Posties walkout again

[Thursday]

For a second time, postal workers across the UK are staging a 24-hour walkout in the dispute with the management of Royal Mail, who are offering a below-inflation pay offer – a cut, in effect – and seeking to run the business into the ground.

This is the text of a flyer from the Communication Workers Union:

DEFENDING POSTAL SERVICES – A MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC
Britain’s postal workers – members of the Communication Workers Union – are asking you to support our campaign to stop Royal Mail’s cost-cutting business plan which will mean cuts in your postal service (with hikes in stamp prices, fewer collections and deliveries and more post office closures) and cuts to our members’ pay and pensions.

CWU members want to do our job serving the public. We have tried every measure possible to seek a fair resolution to this dispute. Over 70% of our members voted for strike action to force Royal Mail to think again but they are simply refusing our offer of meaningful talks. Starved of investment for decades Royal Mail now faces unfair competition from private operators who, for a discounted price, collect and sort profitable bulk business mail before passing it on to Royal Mail to deliver over the ‘final mile’. The result is Royal Mail has lost millions in revenue while the profits of private competitors has soared.

In 2006 Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union agreed that we would work together to tackle the impact of competition in the mail market, use government investment to introduce automation, improve efficiency, introduce innovative products that we know customers want and raise the value and status of postal workers’ jobs. Instead, Royal Mail has ditched the agreement, refused to negotiate a pay settlement and insisted on unilateral imposition of its cost-cutting business plan with mass job losses and cuts to members’ pay and pensions. Royal Mail has been deliberately misleading the public by saying the CWU wants a 27% pay rise. The CWU has never asked for a 27% pay rise.

That’s why the CWU are asking for your support in our campaign to stop Royal Mail’s cuts, end unfair competition and preserve a vital public service.

A combination of Royal Mail’s ‘slash and burn’ strategy and rigged competition rules now threaten the future of Britain’s universal postal service. As competitors queue up to cream off the most lucrative work, Royal Mail is facing a financial black hole and proposing a swingeing round of cuts both to postal services and to our members’ terms and conditions. That’s why the CWU is asking you to support our calls for:

• Royal Mail to enter meaningful talks with the CWU on resolving pay and major change and to honour the 2006 agreement which committed both parties to agree a joint approach on pay and modernisation.

• A Government review of the damaging impact of competition on Royal Mail to date, in line with Labour’s manifesto commitment.

• An immediate change to Postcomm’s competition rules and a fairer pricing and access regime that gives Royal Mail the revenues it needs to support the universal postal service and post office network.

NO TO POST OFFICE CLOSURES!

END UNFAIR COMPETITION!

A DECENT LIVING WAGE FOR POSTAL WORKERS!

DEFEND POSTAL SERVICES!

In this week’s Socialist Worker, Jane Loftus, CWU President, writes:

If we win then it will be a boost for everybody. It would breach Gordon Brown’s public sector pay limit and show that there is no need to keep accepting job cuts, worse conditions and privatisation.

If we were to lose – and there is no reason why we should do – it would encourage the government to unleash further attacks on the public sector and to hold down the wages of the people who work in it.

Alistair Darling, the new chancellor, told the Guardian newspaper this week that he was pushing on with Brown’s policy and pay deals in the public sector would have to be kept to 2 percent.

“All pay has to be pegged to performance at work,” he said. “We can’t have inflationary pay deals.”

But our claim is not “inflationary”, and what we’ve been offered is a big pay cut – on top of job cuts and harsh new conditions.

It is no exaggeration to say that our battle is a matter for millions. We are in the frontline – but we know that health workers, teachers, civil service workers, lecturers and local government workers are in a similar position and are looking to us.

Now we need wider support, and we need it at all levels.

I hope that every union leader, every union executive member and every union branch secretary is thinking of the ways they can support us.

And we can build unity from the base. On the picket lines we have been lifted by delegations from other unions. Let’s build on that.

We can beat the government. But we will be much more certain to win, and we will win much more quickly, if other unions continue to work with us and support future action.

I am determined to do everything in my power to bring this about.

The government cannot avoid its direct responsibility for this dispute. Ministers could end it today. They should tell Allan Leighton to stop attacking the workforce and postal services.

As a union we have tried to persuade MPs to get behind us. Now I’d like to go deeper and get into the constituencies, putting pressure on MPs to come in behind us.

This week’s strike will be combined with an extra focus on reaching out to the public. There should be a petition in defence of the postal service – we could get tens of thousands of signatures on it. And we want our members to leaflet so that everyone knows what this dispute is really about.

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