A section of the audience at Tuesday’s ‘Public Services Not Private Profit’ rally in Westminster on Tuesday
A section of the audience at Tuesday’s ‘Public Services Not Private Profit’ rally in Westminster on Tuesday

Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) South Eastern Divisional Committee is calling on all CWU members to ‘Vote yes and vote for negotiation’ in the union’s forthcoming ballot for national industrial action.

In a statement titled Royal Mail’s New Way Forward, the committee says: ‘In our view, Royal Mail’s recent actions towards your Union, in particular implementing the pay deal without your agreement, is tantamount to derecognition.’

It adds that ‘the only way you can ensure that Royal Mail’s plans are stopped and that they are forced to the negotiating table is if you vote Yes in the forthcoming industrial action ballot’.

The CWU committee stresses that among Royal Mail’s plans are 40,000 sackings and that ‘this is probably the most important ballot the Union has ever launched.

‘The issues involved will determine the future of the industry.’

These ‘issues’ are a massive jobs slaughter and attack on pay, conditions and pensions, in preparation for privatisation.

To carry these attacks through Royal Mail plans to ‘derecognise the union’, the committee warns.

One of the methods planned to destroy jobs is the use of new technology.

CWU SE Divisional Committee explains on Future of Deliveries: ‘Royal Mail’s plans to purchase 1,000 walk sequencing machines pose a massive threat to full time jobs.

‘Walk sequencing machines are currently in operation in most European countries and are very effective.

‘They are designed to remove the majority of Inward Primary Sorting and Preparation time and they can sort and prep 50 walks in an hour.

‘Royal Mail have made no secret of the fact that they wish to impose the “Dutch Delivery Model” which basically means that for every one full time job there are 10 part time jobs.

‘Faced with such a threat the Union is insisting that Royal Mail protect full time jobs and are forced to negotiate on these changes including ensuring members are rewarded for any changes which occur.

‘It is worth pointing out at this point that four areas of the country are due to trial walk sequencing from August this year including East London.

‘Royal Mail has so far refused to negotiate an agreement for the trial offices instead they have produced a revision process for walk sequencing which is a recipe for a part time industry.’

On the Future of Mail Centres and RDCs: ‘Royal Mail’s plans include closing a number of RDCs and Mail Centres which they claim is because of downstream access.

‘However, Royal Mail’s true aims are to have Mail Centres competing against other Mail Centres and RDCs based on whoever is the cheapest.’

The committee adds: ‘Furthermore, Royal Mail’s plans for further new machinery, including further Flat Sorting machines, will mean more deconcentrations threatening further jobs.

‘Their ultimate aim is to have 80 per cent of all work in mails processed by automation.’

On Job Security, the committee says that ‘Royal Mail plans include up to 40,000 job cuts’. . .

‘There is a real threat with that number of job losses that there will be compulsory redundancies.

‘In addition, there is a genuine concern that Royal Mail will force individuals to move from full time to part time as walk sequencing and more automation Mail Centres kick in.

‘Your Union will be insisting that Royal Mail gives a guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of their proposals.

‘Just as importantly the Union will be ensuring that no one who wishes to remain in full time employment will be forced into a part time job.’

The union committee points out that ‘Royal Mail has continued to discriminate against part timers by only paying shift allowance on a pro rata basis rather than the full shift allowance.

‘The Union is demanding that all part timers are paid the full shift allowance and will pursue this in the ballot.’

On the Royal Mail Pensions deficit, they add: ‘Royal Mail plans to make you pay for their mistakes by a combination of insisting you pay more pension contributions, and that you take your pension later rather than at 60 and ultimately closing the pension scheme for new entrants.

‘Your Union is insisting that Royal Mail and the government plug any deficit as they both caused it and benefited from it.

‘The Union is committed to protecting your pension benefits by whatever means is at our disposal.’

On the Privatisation-/Share Offer, the committee warns: ‘Allan Leighton has made it clear that he wants to obtain a 20 per cent share of the industry and then give a share of the industry to all employees.

‘He claims that this will motivate staff.

‘In our opinion it will not motivate one individual as shares will be used to keep wages and conditions down.’

They stress: ‘The CWU is totally opposed to the share offer as it would inevitably lead to full scale privatisation which will be a disaster for all members.’

On New Ways of Working Including Teamworking, the committee states: ‘Royal Mail plans include introducing all the following into all work places.

‘a) Monthly pay, b) Abolish Seniority, c), Abolish 318s and walk schedules in order to increase flexibility, d) Introduce Personnel ‘Development plans which will mean individuals are judged on these plans including sick absences and conduct issues.

‘In addition, Royal Mail have made it perfectly clear they want to introduce teamworking into all work units.

‘This is against the background that in 1996 the membership went out on strike for 8 days and were successful in defeating teamworking.’

On the Future Role of the Union, the committee warns: ‘Royal Mail by their action have demonstrated that they want to marginalise the Union’s role and its effectiveness in protecting your terms and conditions.

‘In fact, under Allan Leighton and Adam Crozier, Royal Mail’s attitude has bordered on derecognition.

‘This ballot, if you vote Yes, will send a powerful message to Royal Mail that you back your Union to protect your terms and conditions in the future.

‘However, it is not only at National level that Royal Mail wants to sideline the Union.

‘If they introduce Team Working then the role of your Unit Representative will dramatically change.

‘Your local rep would no longer negotiate on revisions, overtime, working practices, Christmas and annual leave spreads.

‘Instead teams will be responsible for changing work practices in their own areas including implementing revisions.

‘It is hard to contemplate how a Union could operate effectively under Team Working.

‘Indeed, it is far more likely that once Team Working has been implemented and the competition amongst teams has been established then the reality will be that the collective strength of the Union will be lost forever.

‘That would be a disaster for everyone’s terms and conditions!’

The statement reveals the savage nature of the attacks and that the issues are vital to every postal worker.

However this is a battle that has to be won and just balloting will not be sufficient, action will have to be taken.

The present union leaders see the ballot as a solution and hope against hope that it will be sufficient to intimidate Royal Mail bosses to drop their attacks.

However, the crisis of British capitalism is forcing Royal Mail to go to war on the union and this attack must be answered with decisive action.

To win, and they must win, workers need to build the leadership of the Workers Revolutionary Party in the union to take on and defeat Royal Mail and the Blair government that lies behind it and go forward to a workers government that will carry out socialist policies.