CWU leaders and reps are meeting today and tomorrow at Logan Hall, London for a policy forum to discuss the CWU’s response to the government’s attack on pensions, and the threat to privatise Royal Mail.
It is an understatement to say that this is a vitally important meeting.
At stake is the whole future of the Royal Mail and with it the livelihoods of thousands of our members’ jobs, pensions and terms and conditions of service.
We must be perfectly clear what privatisation will bring; Mail Centre closures, Delivery Office closures, losing thousands of jobs, as well as an increase in workload.
What we have seen under the Business Transformation deal will be nothing compared to what will happen if Royal Mail is taken over by a private company.
It is the acceptance of Royal Mail’s concept of ‘modernisation’ and the Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond, that has led us to this situation.
In the last three years, since the agreement has been in force, we have seen a massive rationalisation for postal workers.
Many Mail Centres and Delivery Offices have been closed and our members forced to travel many miles to keep their jobs.
Delivery staff have had their rounds increased in size and are under an intolerable burden to do even more, under pressure from their managers to squeeze every last ounce of labour out of them.
The result of the Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond, has been to fatten up Royal Mail in preparation for privatisation.
The only ones who will gain from the privatisation of Royal Mail are big business and the upper echelons of management who will receive huge windfall bonuses.
The losers will be postal workers and the general public as services are run down and more Delivery Offices are shut, forcing customers to travel miles to collect any mail they need.
From this Tory/LibDem government’s point of view, anything is fair game to be privatised.
Schools, hospitals and, anything that does not move, is to be parcelled up and flogged to the highest bidder.
The crisis in the National Health Service is a direct result of governments, Labour and Tory, allowing the so-called free market to decide who gets healthcare.
So desperate is this government for money that they will consider selling Royal Mail at below its real value, in order to help pay off the National Debt.
But, any company that buys Royal Mail is going to want its pound of flesh.
That is why we must act now.
Trying to get promises out of any future Labour Government that it will renationalise Royal Mail are a waste of time.
Miliband and Balls agree with the privatisation.
To try to get a promise of renationalisation would require at least 75% of the current Labour MPs to be deselected, and this is before Miliband reduces even further the influence of the trade unions in the Labour Party.
We cannot afford to wait.
Part-time and casual working and cuts in pay will become the norm, alongside redundancies, and with a management reign of terror against those that are fortunate enough to still have a job, to force them to work harder and harder, threatening that if they cannot do the job, they will be forced out.
Indeed, the very existence of the CWU in Royal Mail will be called into question as the present management have only promised to abide by any national agreement for three years.
After that, it will be union-busting and a completely casualised workforce.
The present leadership of the Labour Party agrees whole-heartedly with the privatisation of Royal Mail.
Indeed, Blair and Mandelson are the architects of its privatisation.
Not one of the present leadership of the Labour Party has said that they are opposed to Royal Mail’s privatisation, and neither has any said that they will renationalise Royal Mail.
No, if we are to defeat the attempt to privatise Royal Mail, we must rely on our own strength and that of the wider trade union movement.
If we are serious about defending Royal Mail from the speculators and asset-strippers, the only way it can be defeated is by calling an indefinite national strike.
Alongside this, we must call on all trade unions to support us in a general strike to bring this government down.
Every worker in the public sector lives in fear of losing their job, and therefore their livelihood.
A call by the CWU for a general strike to defend jobs and public services will fall on fertile ground.
This is the only way forward.
The Tories have declared war on every trade union and every worker in Britain.
Our problem is that we have leaders in the trade unions who don’t believe either that war has been declared, or hope that somehow, with negotiation, common sense will prevail.
The decisions reached at the CWU policy forum will have far-reaching implications.
We must stop all negotiations about Royal Mail post-privatisation now.
We must explain to our members that the only way to defend your jobs and conditions of service, and your union, is by fighting to defend them.
We must elect leaders who are prepared to fight for this strategy.
Our jobs are at stake!
Rob Bolton, CWU South Central No1.