‘THE STRIKES MUST GO AHEAD’ – CWU members tell News Line

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Communication Workers Union (CWU) branch officials yesterday warned CWU general secretary Billy Hayes and deputy general secretary Dave Ward against selling out postal workers at talks at the TUC today.

They were responding to TUC general secretary Brendan Barber’s invitation to the CWU and Royal Mail for talks at Congress House.

A TUC statement on Saturday said: ‘Royal Mail and the CWU have in recent days been in contact with the TUC over the current dispute and have sought the TUC’s assistance in resolving any outstanding issues around the draft document discussed last Tuesday to avoid further industrial action and provide the basis for productive talks on the future of Royal Mail.

‘As a result, both Royal Mail and the CWU have accepted an invitation from the TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber to talks on Monday.

‘The TUC had previously assisted Royal Mail and the CWU to reach the 2007 Pay and Modernisation Agreement, which included talks on the longer term Royal Mail transformation agenda.’

Watford CWU branch secretary Alan Walsh told News Line: ‘I had very little faith in the 2007 agreement.

‘Our branch voted against it because it left us open to the current attack on jobs and conditions.

‘I have no problem with the TUC getting involved but I am sceptical of the outcome.

‘What we don’t want, after leading the troops up the hill, is to let them down again.

‘The strikes are well supported. Members see this dispute as a watershed – we have to win or we’ll be finished.

‘This week’s strikes must go ahead. We must be prepared to escalate the action for a long-term struggle.

‘Mandelson is behind this because he was unable to get privatisation through.

‘The only way he can see of getting privatisation in, is to break the union first.’

Rob Bolton, Chairman South Central No 1 CWU branch added: ‘CWU members will be extremely angry if they are again to be let down by their leaders.

‘It was the intervention of Brendan Barber and the TUC that led to our strikes being called off in 2007.

‘The deal that was put to the members was not in their best interests and has led to the situation we are now in.

‘The leadership of the CWU must understand that our jobs, pay and terms and conditions must not be allowed to be negotiated away, whatever the TUC say.

‘We want an end to attacks on our jobs and an end to bullying and harrassment of our members by management trying to force them to work harder and harder.

‘We want the removal of all unagreed revisions that have been forced upon our members.

‘And, we want an end to attacks upon our union, its members and its representatives.

‘These demands are not going to be agreed by Royal Mail and the Mandelson/Brown government.

‘They are intent on destroying the CWU as an effective union defending its members in the workplace.

‘Far from calling the strikes off, we must step up the strikes until we win all of our demands.

‘The TUC should be supporting the CWU in its fight against Royal Mail and this anti-working class government, not trying to help negotiate a rotten deal that will see thousands of postal workers lose their jobs.’

Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier told the Andrew Marr Show yesterday that he hopes ‘common sense prevails’ and this week’s nationwide strikes are called off, adding that it would take ‘a couple of months’ to agree any final deal.

This will see the Royal Mail over the Xmas period when it is at its most vulnerable.