Royal Mail: Solid strike action forces concessions

 CWU must prepare for fresh attacks after electionBy a Socialist Party postal worker The conditions in Belfast would appear to be no different from anywhere else in the UK. 61,623 (76.24%) of Royal Mail employees are all in agreement that things need to change. The promise of a ‘Great Place To Work’ made by former Chairman Allan Leighton may well be true if you’re a manager with top directors receiving millions of pounds in pay and bonus.

Local managers receive thousands in bonus whilst the rest of us get no pay increase and in some cases zero bonus. Not to mention, the ever growing number of postal workers sacked on trumped up charges which, a few years ago would be laughed at and dismissed out of hand. Unfortunately, today, it’s no laughing matter. The fear factor of management bullying and sacking is so real that I wish to remain anonymous for fear of management reprisals. ‘Great Place To Work’, don’t make me laugh!

It’s time Royal Mail listened to its employees instead of forging ahead, implementing changes to working practices by executive action, targeting union officials and in some cases those who participated in previous unofficial industrial action.

The support for the industrial action in Belfast was strong with a small minority of strike breakers, who probably would never lose a day’s pay for any reason. Good job the rest of us didn’t take that stand especially with further redundancies and changes to performance coming round the corner.

Royal Mail has underplayed the effect of the back log of mail. Past experiences have demonstrated to us that they simply cannot cope with industrial action. For example; eighteen days of local industrial action in Feb 2006 resulted in a backlog of four weeks. Whilst Royal Mail is keeping the true size of the backlog close to it’s chest, for each day of industrial action we can assume, based on 2006 experience that there was two days work to hand for each day we took to the streets. There is no need to ask if the strike was successful as Royal Mail were forced back to the negotiating table. The interim agreement contains some concessions which commit Royal Mail to negotiate changes with the CWU. But it is clear Royal Mail cannot be trusted. It is also likely that after the general election, whoever wins, Royal Mail will be given the green light to go back on the offensive.

Prior to the recent bout of industrial action it was reported that CWU General Secretary, Billy Hayes has admitted that the majority of postal workers do not support the Labour Party. Since the start of the national industrial action Lord Mandelson has been securely battening down the Labour coffin lid with his support for Royal Mail management. I for one thought I’d never see the day when the Labour Party attacks the very people who have supported them, not just financially but also at the ballot box. If the current mood continues to the upcoming general election many postal workers, their family and friends may be looking to strike back and give New Labour a message they’ll never forget. I believe New Labour’s position with workers in general is irreparable and it has become abundantly clear to all that the Labour Party is no longer an option for workers. The time has come to look for a viable alternative, there’s no better party to move the plight of the working class forward than the Socialist Party.

What’s in the Interim Agreement?
Changes to workloads & conditions subject to negotiation, not imposed
Reinstatement of facility time to union reps
Re-opens overtime options
‘No victimisation’ clause
Review and re-negotiation of some changes at local level
Review of progress every two weeks
National and local strike ballots remain active

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