DEFEND JOBS AND WAGES – Smash Blair’s privatisation drive says CWU rally

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UNISON General Secretary DAVE PRENTIS (centre) with Ambulance workers PHIL BELL, mark belkin, paramedic ANDREA SHIELDS and duty station officer MOHAMMED HALAWI
UNISON General Secretary DAVE PRENTIS (centre) with Ambulance workers PHIL BELL, mark belkin, paramedic ANDREA SHIELDS and duty station officer MOHAMMED HALAWI

‘I BELIEVE we can win this,’ Communication Workers Union General Secretary Bill Hayes told a mass rally against privatisation by over 600 postal workers in London yesterday.

Speaking about the government’s plans to privatise the postal service, he said: ‘Share ownership is creeping privatisation.’

He warned: ‘Once we take shares for our own members we are knackered in stopping privatisation.’

He concluded: ‘We are the strongest union and when we defeat privatisation, when we defeat competition, every other union will take part. We will win this dispute.’

Dave Ward, CWU deputy-general secretary (postal), told the rally at Friends Meeting House: ‘Alan Johnson says “we are not going to privatise the post office”.

‘When you say “what are you going to do?’’, the story unravels a little different.’

He added: ‘We have to make a stand now.’

Ward warned if the government can succeed in privatising the post office, ‘it will be the end of the relationship’ between the unions and Labour.

Earlier, FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack told the rally: ‘We will give you our full support, whatever form your campaign takes.’

He said the fire service also faced ‘creeping privatisation’, that in London the fire engines and kits are privately owned.

He added: ‘We have to fight. If you don’t fight you’re bound to lose, if you fight you stand a chance of winning.’

Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said: ‘Privatisation has never been a people’s interest.

‘The Gate Gourmet dispute, where I was this morning, would never have happened if it had been under British Airways.’

He said the action by the Heathrow baggage handlers ‘was solidarity action. It was effective.

‘Why should bosses be given eight days’ notice (of a strike).

‘That’s why we have to get rid of these anti-union laws.’

He said that the unions couldn’t continue ‘with the unity of the graveyard’ in the event of a Brown government.

Speakers from the floor, however, demanded concrete action.

Billy Colvill, a south-west London CWU rep., said: ‘All the attacks come from the Labour government to privatise.

‘This government has to go.

‘This government has to be brought down to stop privatisation, liberalisation and defend our jobs.

‘How else are we going to do it without a general strike? We have to take this government on. It’s coming for all of us – the CWU, FBU, UNISON, PCS, NUT and all of us.

‘Let’s take this campaign forward.

‘We are a big union and a strong union and we can win.’

Angie Mulchachy, east London CWU member, said: ‘You’ve just taken the ground from under my feet. We should lobby the TUC to call a general strike to win this fight for our jobs.’