Socialist Party leaflet text that was distributed on postal workers’ picket lines
The idea that there is no money to provide real pay increases for postal workers is laughable. Recently millions have been paid out to private shareholders and £758 million in profits were posted by the Group. Venture capitalist, Daniel Křetínský is the biggest shareholder in Royal Mail now. Named in the Panama Papers leak of 2016 he is known for significant investment across the world in energy, media and football clubs. He seems to now be expanding into the luxury hotel market with a fund he owns having just purchased a castle outside Paris for £37million.
Your union under attack
These strikes are of course not just about the cost of living. What is at stake is the future of Royal Mail as a service and the rights of posties to be organised and represented by their union. The decision of Royal Mail management to withdraw from legally binding agreements is an all-out declaration of war on postal workers and the CWU. The withdrawal from these agreements could mean changes to start and finish time with a push towards ‘flexible working,’ the unilateral introduction of new technology and the replacement of current attendance procedures. They also announced they will tear up the current industrial framework, including the removal of shopfloor level Industrial Relations reps and imposing new working conditions without trials – a defacto derecognition of the CWU on the shop floor. All this comes after recent allegations against the Royal Mail senior management engaging in secret talks with Křetínský’s VESA. In other words: they plan to divide up and sell off Royal Mail, turning it into a parcel company similar to Amazon or DPD, with “gig economy” style working conditions.
Build a plan of action!
The CWU is correct to respond in kind to management’s escalation by announcing a plan of industrial action including more national action and a rolling campaign of selective action in the run-up to Christmas including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In order for this to be as effective as possible, it is necessary that all aspects of the dispute are democratically discussed by postal workers at all levels including specific action are organised and where to go next. It is also necessary to have the campaign to organise agency workers.
Coordinate with other workers striking back!
Of course, Royal Mail workers are not the only ones striking. BT and Openreach workers, also part of the CWU, are also engaged in an industrial battle around similar issues. Railway workers in Britain will also be striking on 1st October and many other workers in manufacturing, education and in our NHS are balloting for strike action. As well as postal workers doing all they can to take on Royal Mail management, it is necessary to recognise backing them to the hilt is an anti-worker Tory government and we need to strike together against this government if we are to deal with the cost of living crisis including winning measures such as price controls. It is in this context that calls for a general strike has come up in order to link different disputes and strengthen them because we are stronger when we stand united. This cannot be at the expense of individual disputes but would have to be linked to a campaign by the union movement to build support, broaden out and strengthen actions because the issues we are fighting against are the same: spiralling costs and therefore massive cuts to real wages; attacks on terms & conditions of workers and huge economic uncertainty for workers.
Build an alternative for workers!
Be it the Tories’ declaration of war on working-class people with their mini-budget or the inaction and lack of radical policies by Starmer’s Labour and the main parties in Stormont – we know none of them will stand up for workers. In Northern Ireland, the sectarian stalemate and whipping up of division is completely at odds with the experience of workers on picket lines, who know we must strike together. The Socialist Party believes workers need to fight both industrially and politically in order to win victories for working people. We want to see a party built that will seek to unite workers across the sectarian line and fight for socialist policies including the renationalisation of Royal Mail and measures to deal with the cost of living crisis by taking on the profiteers including nationalising the energy companies and linking workers wages to rate of inflation.
- Make planned action as effective as possible through members’ democratic control over industrial disputes;
- Renationalise Royal Mail, BT and Post Office with compensation to shareholders only on basis of proven need
- Link with other striking workers to build a movement of workers against the attacks of bosses & the government;
- Your fight is our fight: organise solidarity across the union movement to strengthen key disputes and fight the attacks on unions including the CWU;
- For real action to tackle the cost of living crisis including real pay rises & the nationalisation under democratic workers’s control of energy and other key sectors.