CWU: Resist Rico! Don’t let the bosses smash the union!

Below is a leaflet text produced by Socialist Alternative (ISA in England, Wales & Scotland). Socialist Alternative is the sister organisation of the Socialist Party.

Stand together & fight! Save four pillars, save our Royal Mail!

Royal Mail workers are in for the fight of their lives. Management are riding high on confidence after industrial action was blocked in courts at the end of 2019. However, the resolve to fight among CWU members has not gone away. Battle is set to recommence.

Bosses on the offensive

Instead of beginning grown up and rational discussions with the union Rico and Royal Mail, management have escalated their attacks on the CWU and its members’ jobs, terms and conditions.

Bosses have taken executive action by moving machinery out of the smaller offices into larger mail centres and forcing workers to carry out later deliveries of parcels – adding extra work to their day. This has meant placing mail office workers back out on deliveries. These measures have been taken unilaterally without any consultation with workers through their union.

Alongside this, Royal Mail management have been scuttling around the country holding meetings with workers at Mail Centres to sell a recent pay deal. The offer on the table is a 6% increase over the next 3 years. While this is not part of the current dispute over the 4 pillars agreement, bosses think they can use it to effectively buy off workers. These meetings have not taken place through the union.

This is a clear two-pronged strategy to undermine and destroy the union. First by imposing changes to the job without any representation from the union. And then attempting to placate workers ahead of strike action.

Workers fighting to win

This really is a life-and-death battle for the union and for the future of Royal Mail as a whole. The 4 pillars must be defended, or management will seek to ride roughshod over the terms and conditions of Royal Mail workers.

In spite of management’s confrontational approach, the CWU is currently re-balloting its members for strike action. The ballot papers will begin hitting doormats on the 3 March. They are likely to be returned with a mandate for strike action once again. The union must now pull out all the stops to ensure that the turnout on the ballot as a high as possible.

The action before Christmas was blocked in the courts by management’s use of undemocratic anti-trade union laws. It is vital that the new ballot once again beats the thresholds laid out in those laws. Not only should this enable workers to take the action needed but it would also send a resounding message to the bosses that they have a huge fight on their hands.

The executive action taken by the bosses must also be fought. A campaign of local strike action should run alongside the national dispute to fight changes being imposed on workers in mail offices and centres. This would open up a second front against the Royal Mail bosses and add to the effectiveness of the national action being taken. The national leadership should work with local reps and stewards to co-ordinate such a programme of local action in order to maximise its impact.

Anti-union laws

Another reason Royal Mail bosses might be riding high is the huge majority achieved by Boris Johnson at the general election. One of the first policies he announced following his victory was a planned rampage against trade unions. This is chiefly aimed at the RMT transport union, which has been extremely effective in fighting back against employers attempting to implement driver-only operation. Johnson plans to add to the existing anti-union laws, already some of the most restrictive in the Western world, by imposing ‘minimum service requirements’ when action strike action is taking place in key services like rail. This would make it impossible for workers to take effective action and shut down the service.
Royal Mail workers were victims of anti-union laws when bosses took the union to court at the end of last year. The fact that the injunction served by bosses was upheld in the courts tell us all we need to know about the purpose of those laws and the intentions of governments that implement them. These are laws designed to stop workers taking the action needed to fight attacks on their livelihoods and place all the power in the hands of the employer.

The University and Colleges Union (UCU) have shown that workers can organise to overcome those thresholds. They have now embarked on a programme of 14 days of strike action shutting down universities across the country. This action have put university management and the government on notice that workers will not accept continued austerity laying down.

Unite and fight for the right to strike

Unfortunately, the TUC so far failed to mobilise the campaign needed to defend the CWU and fight the anti-union laws. This must not be allowed to continue. The CWU’s fight is the union movement’s fight. It is vital that solidarity is built locally and nationally with Royal Mail workers. Socialist Alternative members will be raising resolutions in trade union branches and trades councils calling for meetings across the length and breadth of the country in support of the CWU and all workers taking on the bosses.
If the TUC won’t call the action needed to fight then the unions currently engaged in struggle could get the ball rolling. A coordinated campaign between the CWU, UCU and RMT against anti-worker, anti-union laws would be very powerful. Local coordination between these unions movement currently in the midst of struggle could form the basis for conferences of resistance in towns and cities which could begin to discuss how we smash the anti-union laws and resist Boris Johnson’s Tory government. In every area, a demonstration in defence of Rail, Mail and education workers could take place. Not only could we build effective solidarity with workers in dispute. But this could also serve as a launchpad for the mass movement needed against the anti-union laws and defence of our services. If we fight together, we can win.

Socialist Alternative calls for:
● Strike until we win – Defend the 4 pillars agreement
● Renationalise Royal Mail and all postal and courier services under democratic workers control – kick out the greedy bosses to ensure that workers jobs, terms and conditions is put before their profits
● Solidarity with CWU Royal Mail workers – Trade unions branches and trades councils should organise local meetings to discuss how we build practical support for the strike
● For a mass struggle against anti- union laws – for local, regional and national demonstrations as a launchpad for a mass campaign in defence of the right to strike

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