Hundreds of angry postal workers are lobbying the Labour Party conference in Brighton today against government plans to privatise Royal Mail.
Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) members will muster outside the conference at noon.
A spokesman said the planned protest is part of the CWU campaign to draw attention to ‘the damage being done to Royal Mail by the threat of privatisation and liberalisation’.
Trade unions yesterday reacted to Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Brown’s statements insisting they are both determined to press ahead with privatisation of all public services, particularly the NHS.
Assuming Brown will take over from Blair as Labour Party leader, Amicus General Secretary Derek Simpson told reporters in Brighton: ‘If Brown decides to continue with blair’s “modernising” agenda, he will lead the party to defeat at the next general election.
‘We want to see Warwick part two – a reform of employment legislation so British workers have the same rights as workers in Europe.
‘That also means compulsory pensions contributions and a repeal of the Thatcher anti-union laws.’
A TGWU spokesman told News Line: ‘These policies are a recipe for disaster.
‘And if they are not changed, Labour will be defeated at the next election.’
Rail union RMT was expelled from the Labour Party in August 2004.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow told News Line yesterday: ‘Our union does not want to be a member of the Labour Party.
‘These policies are to be expected. Blair and Brown support private enterprise. They’ve been doing it for the past eight years.’
News Line asked Crow what the unions should do in the light of Blair’s insistence there will be no concession over secondary picketing.
Should the unions defy the anti-union laws over secondary action?
Crow said: ‘It’s a matter for every individual union according to the circumstances they are in.’
Angry pensioners are also lobbying the conference today.
Organisers ‘Pensions Theft’ say: ‘85,000 people have been robbed of their occupational pension they worked and saved for, most of their lives.
‘Governments told us our pensions were safe, secure, guaranteed and protected in Law.
‘We now face old age in penury. Some have already died without justice.
‘Gordon Brown said, “It is simply wrong,” yet still we’re stripped of our pensions.
‘We need action! Not words Mr Brown; now!’
Jacquie Humphrey, whose husband Peter is chairman of Dexion Pension Action Group, told News Line yesterday: ‘We did everything society asked of us, played by the rules, saved for our future and we’re now left with nothing.
‘How can this be right?
‘We are demonstrating on Monday because Gordon Brown will be speaking to the conference and it is he who has refused to make enough money available to sort this issue out.
‘It is not a lot of money, but the Treasury has simply failed to see that it is Government that is responsible for what has happened to us.’
She added: ‘My husband worked and contributed for 40 years and should have received his stolen pension two years ago. . . to date he has been robbed of approximately £80,000 (this sounds a lot but included a lump sum).’
•Second news story
SHARON ORDERS FRESH GAZA ONSLAUGHT
ISRAELI Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered the Israeli army to strike at the Palestinian resistance with ‘no restrictions’ in the Gaza Strip.
This follows up to 12 missile strikes by Israeli warplanes against the inhabitants of Gaza at the weekend, which left at least two Palestinians dead and up to 25 others wounded, many of them children.
In one attack, Israeli warplanes struck a school in crowded Gaza City early on Sunday. A 40-day-old baby was among the injured in the attack.
The blast struck the al-Arkam school, established by the late founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, in a densely populated area.
‘I have issued orders that there be no restrictions,’ said Sharon, including attacks on individual members of Palestinian resistance movements and ‘their hideouts’.
‘We don’t intend here to stage a one-time action, but intend to carry out a continued action, whose aim is . . . not to let up,’ he said.
‘We should use every means at our disposal,’ he added.
Sharon gave his orders after Palestinian groups had fired rockets at Israel, lightly wounding six people, in retaliation for a deadly explosion in Gaza last Friday which killed at least 17 people and wounded many, many more.