STOP THE CUTS! – Postal workers tell Labour Party Conference

Postal workers lobbying the Labour Party Conference in Brighton yesterday demanding no privatisation of Royal Mail
Postal workers lobbying the Labour Party Conference in Brighton yesterday demanding no privatisation of Royal Mail

over 200 postal workers lobbied the heavily-fortified Labour Party Conference in Brighton yesterday, to demand the Labour government keeps the Royal Mail public and restores their pensions.

Martin Walsh, Communication Workers Union London Divisional Representative, told News Line before the lobby: ‘We’ve come here to demonstrate and show that postal workers throughout the country all need to be treated fairly by the only shareholder, the government.

‘We are sending a firm signal to the Labour government that they need to instruct Royal Mail management to stop the bullying and harassment and the cuts which are destroying the service.

‘We wanted to call on Royal Mail to make a new national agreement on the future of the industry.’

Asked what he thought about Business Secretary Mandelson’s willingness to serve a Tory government, Walsh responded: ‘I thought he was a Tory anyway.’

Walsh concluded: ‘We will continue taking strike action and deliver a big “yes’’ vote in the national ballot.

‘We are going to win this dispute.’

Tony Conway, a retired CWU member, from south-east London, said: ‘We filled our coach from London Bridge with 61 of us.

‘I am proud of the commitment of the membership in south-east London, they’ve been absolutely magnificent on the picket lines and at mass meetings and especially today.’

Before handing in a giant postcard to the Labour conference centre, addressed to Prime Minister Brown, Jane Loftus, CWU president, led a lively lobby, shouting ‘Royal Mail not for sale!’ and ‘Mandy, Mandy, Mandy – out, out, out!’

As postal workers blew whistles, she said over the megaphone, ‘It is we, the postal workers, who fight for public services, who fight for jobs and services.

‘Let’s go on strike. Let’s defend every job.

‘We will win this dispute. We will keep our jobs.’

Billy Colvill, London SE15 CWU rep, told News Line: ‘The lobby was well represented from all over the south of England.

‘This firmly nails the lie that this is a London dispute.

‘We lobbied the Labour Party conference because our employer is this government and we are a public service.

‘The divisions that are occurring in the labour and trade union movement are between those who want to smash up public services and introduce cuts, and those who want to defend the living standards and rights of the working class.

‘For instance, the CWU has a situation where members of the Unite union are crossing picket lines and scabbing on our strike, ie Royal Mail managers.

‘How the CWU leadership can tolerate this ordinary members don’t understand.

‘It’s the same with their support for this Labour government.

‘We will carry on our strikes and we’re asking that on the result of the national ballot the union calls national action.’

During a reception after the lobby, Dave Ward, CWU deputy-general secretary, saluted the gathering.

He said: ‘We can’t believe how strong and resilient you are.

‘This is a bitter dispute, but you are making sacrifices now that will see a future in this industry.

‘The message is getting through.We are the people that are defending public services.

‘What we need is to modernise the management of Royal Mail, some of the things they have done to you are below the belt.

‘I have never seen such bullying.’

He pledged: ‘There will be no resolution that is not satisfactory to you.’

He attacked the government over its refusal to sort out the Royal Mail pension fund after it lost the Postal Services Bill to part-privatise Royal Mail.

He announced: ‘Your strike action has forced Royal Mail back to the table.

‘From tomorrow we have three days of talks.

‘We hope to find a resolution to end this dispute.’