CALL A GENERAL STRIKE! – as Royal Mail gets injunction declaring CWU strikes illegal

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Royal Mail CWU pickets out in force at the South London Mail Centre, Nine Elms, South West London yesterday morning
Royal Mail CWU pickets out in force at the South London Mail Centre, Nine Elms, South West London yesterday morning

POSTAL workers yesterday reacted furiously to news that Royal Mail had won an injunction at the High Court banning the next official strikes by their union, the CWU, due to start next Monday.

A London Area CWU spokesman said: ‘It’s predictable. At a time when the union as we speak are in negotiations, it’s not a particularly apt time for that to happen.’

He said of Royal Mail: ‘I don’t think they’ve ever been serious in the negotiations. I think their agenda is to crush the union and always has been. They want to remove the union from the workplace.

‘There is already unofficial action taking place in London.’

He stressed: ‘It’s what you expect from these people, no more no less.’

Rob Bolton, chairman, HP Section, CWU South Central No.1 branch, said: ‘This isn’t just an attack on the CWU, it’s an attack on the whole trade union movement, and it gives the lie to the fact that Royal Mail are saying the strikes aren’t working.

‘Because if they weren’t working, why would they get an injunction?

‘We have to do exactly what the prison officers did when they were threatened with an injunction – carry forward with our strikes.

‘The TUC now have to give us full support, calling out every section of the trade union movement to fight this attack on the fundamental democratic right of trade unionists to take strike action.

‘The CWU leaders must call for support from the rest of the trade unions in this fight because we don’t just fight for ourselves, it’s clear that we fight for the whole working class.

‘The TUC must now call a general strike to defend the CWU.’

Billy Colvill, Peckham CWU rep, said: ‘The CWU leadership must call for the membership to defy the injunction.

‘We’d also say that on this complete attack on our democratic rights every trade unionist in the country should join us on strike until the courts and government and Royal Mail are beaten.

‘We demand that the TUC calls a general strike.’

A spokesman for the PCS civil service trade union told News Line when the Royal Mail was seeking an injunction: ‘As far as we’re concerned we stand shoulder to shoulder with the CWU and fully appreciate their struggle, as our members are also experiencing low pay and jobs cuts.

‘People’s right to strike is a freedom and it’s a right of any democracy,’ the PCS spokesman added.

Earlier yesterday the unofficial strike actions were spreading.

At the East London Mail Centre and E16 Delivery Office at Bromley-by-Bow more than 50 postal workers on unofficial strike manned the picket line yesterday morning.

Mark Saxon, the CWU E16 Unit Rep said: ‘The strike is stronger and it is escalating.

‘We believe that there was a meeting last night where there was an ultimatum that if we do not go back to work by Monday they would sack us all.

‘We understand that north London is out at 11 offices in support and Greenford is out. It is escalating.

‘What has infuriated people is that Royal Mail has taken all four days’ pay for the official strike in one go.

‘The public seem to be supporting us at the moment. Everyone can see what the fight is about.’

There was also a strong picket line at the Bow Delivery Office in east London.

Vince Micallef, the CWU E3 Unit Rep said: ‘The strike is spreading throughout London.

‘We have asked our people to return to work, but they are adamant they will not return to work on the terms and conditions the Royal Mail want them to.

‘What we are finding is that people are more angry and resolute than ever.

‘If this does not prove that “executive action” does not work, nothing will.

‘The members feel this is a vindictive attack on our union and we will do what it takes to make Royal Mail back down.

‘Morale is high, very high.’

Pickets were also out in force at the Poplar and Isle of Dogs Delivery Office.

Mick Rowell, the CWU E14 Unit Rep said: ‘This proves, with the escalation around London today and threats that area reps have come under, we are not going to let Royal Mail push their stuff through.’

In SE London, 150 angry and determined postal workers swarmed across the gates at Mandela Way Depot after management tried to impose unacceptable conditions without union agreement.

One picket who was threatened with disciplinary action by managers while he spoke to News line, and who wished to be known as Postie-based-at-SE1 said: ‘The pussy-footing around by the union leadership has got to stop and this action is going to stop it.

‘This fresh wave of walkouts is probably in response to what Prime Minister Brown said which has got everyone’s back up. He does not listen to the 40 MPs who are opposed to his stand, but tells us to shut up and get back to work, while ex-postman Alan Johnson is sitting there on the front bench not saying a word.’

Another postman, Charlie Adams, said: ‘Personally we need to change the CWU leadership at the very top because of the complete lack of leadership.’

Staff at Stoke Newington, north London, walked out yesterday.

Joe Donnellan, CWU Rep for N16 (Stoke Newington), said: ‘We’ve all come out. We knew it was coming.

‘Royal Mail’s decision to start with their executive action, suspension of reps across London, has brought us to this situation.

‘The whole office is united and we’re staying out until we get a resolution.’

At Wimbledon delivery office in south-west London, over 100 postal workers were on the picket line.

Steve Carpenter, CWU Rep, told News Line: ‘At Streatham and Tooting staff are being intimidated and bullied by management, so we’re out in support of those offices.’

Staff at the SE15 (Peckham) delivery office, in south-east London, also walked out yesterday morning.

Royal Mail had docked four days’ pay in one week from staff, leaving them with virtually no wages.

Managers brought over blacked work from Nine Elms Mail Centre in Vauxhall – mail taken through picket lines to be transferred to Peckham.

The local CWU Rep was suspended from duties and threatened with disciplinary action which could lead to dismissal.

Offices covering SE1 and SE16 walked out on Thursday.

At the South London Mail Centre (Nine Elms), CWU members were on the picket line.

CWU member Sonia Simpson said: ‘What management are doing is unacceptable.’