The Interim Agreement (I.A.), brokered by Brendan Barber of the TUC, between Royal Mail and the CWU, has allowed Royal Mail to press ahead with its attacks on CWU members.
Nowhere has Royal Mail been forced to roll back any of the draconian measures implemented by executive action that were the spark for the recent strikes, involving up to 120,000 postal workers.
The ink was not even dry on the I.A. when senior managers within Royal Mail let it be known that nothing had changed, and that they would be drawing up plans for further cuts in duties and jobs in the New Year.
It is becoming clear to all CWU members that the I.A. benefits nobody but Royal Mail.
As it is now becoming obvious to CWU members that they will again be forced to take industrial action to defend their jobs and conditions of service, they will have to reflect on their recent struggle and the role that their elected leadership have played hithertoo.
Right from the very beginning of the recent strikes, the Hayes/Ward leadership let it be known that they were reluctantly calling strikes.
Their main efforts were not to force Royal Mail to stop their attacks on the CWU and its members, by means of mobilising the membership for a determined struggle.
Instead, they were using the strikes as a way of pressurising Royal Mail and the Mandelson/Brown government to allow them to become part of the implementation process of Royal Mail’s agenda on so-called modernisation.
They pleaded to all that would listen that they wanted a junior role in forcing CWU members to accept the fate that awaits them, in the name of modernisation.
If they were serious about winning the war that had been declared on them, they would have called for support from their fellow trade unionists.
When Royal Mail announced that it was going to recruit 30,000 casuals, to be used as strikebreakers, the gauntlet had been thrown down to the whole trade union movement.
Here was a situation where the TUC was duty bound to help one of the founding members of the TUC that was coming under the most ferocious attack in order to break the CWU or force it to accept what was coming to it in the form of modernisation, wholesale job cuts, speed-up and the casualisation of the industry.
What is happening to postal workers under the name of ‘modernisation’ is what George Orwell called doublespeak.
On the one hand, postal workers are to lose thousands of jobs and their working lives are being made a living hell, whilst upper management award themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonuses and pay awards.
All this under the innocuous name of ‘modernisation’.
For the second time in two years, postal workers have risen to the fight that has been forced on them, only to be let down by their leadership.
The vote to suspend the strikes and accept the I.A. was carried unanimously by the seventeen-strong CWU executive.
Amongst those voting to end the strikes are a handful of members of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).
Jane Loftus, one of their leading members, is currently the CWU President.
The SWP’s mantra is rank and fileism.
More militancy, according to the SWP, is all that is needed.
The question of leadership is never raised.
This is summed up in their inane slogan ‘The workers united will never be defeated’.
They masquerade under the false label of ‘Trotskyist’. Yet they never call for the replacement of the current leaderships of the trade unions with leaders who will not betray their members.
Instead, when trade union leaders sell out their members it is called a ‘mistake’ or a ‘tactical error’.
They have now become a junior section of the trade union bureaucracy, providing left cover when needed for the bureaucracy as it increasingly finds it difficult to control their own members.
CWU members have returned to work angry at the outcome of their latest strikes, but also determined that their jobs and conditions of service will not be negotiated away.
The urgent task facing CWU members is to replace the current leadership of the union, fake Trotskyist and all, with a leadership that will not buckle at the slightest pressure and is prepared to do all that is necessary to achieve victory.
Bob Bolton, Chair CWU South Central No1 branch.
These are not necessarily the views of my whole branch.