Union bureaucracy colludes with management to sell out postal workers

[Tuesday again]

So, it’s probable that Labour won’t be getting any more cash from the postal workers – not after the government sat back and watched the management of a company it owns use the courts to stop a strike. But will Billy Hayes and those on the EC who backed his sell-out deal be dumped along with affiliation to the Labour Party?

Here’s a report from The News Line on the sell-out:

THE CWU (Communications Workers Union) yesterday accepted the Royal Mail offer on pay along with plans to modernise the company and reform the pension scheme.

This came after the CWU Postal Executive Committee ratified by nine votes to five the deal agreed by the CWU general secretary Billy Hayes and deputy general secretary (postal) Dave Ward on 13 October.

Royal Mail said yesterday: ‘The CWU’s acceptance of the proposal means that Royal Mail can now go ahead with essential plans to modernise the business and make it more flexible, efficient and able to compete properly in the marketplace.

Royal Mail Chief Executive Adam Crozier acknowledged ‘the role played by Brendan Barber and the TUC and to thank them for helping to bring these talks to a sensible conclusion’.

[…]

The CWU will shortly ballot its members on the agreement.

‘Postal workers must throw out this sell-out deal’, Rob Bolton, Chairman HP Section, CWU South Central No 1 branch said yesterday.

He said: ‘In my opinion the CWU leadership caved in before the fight had really began.

‘We must reject the deal and replace this leadership of Hayes and Ward, with a leadership that will carry the struggle forward.

‘This leadership has negotiated away our hard won terms and conditions, it is time for it to go.’

CWU Eastern No 6 branch secretary Paul Olden added: ‘Our HQ is in for a rude awakening.

‘If the deal is no better than what we came on strike against, I won’t be recommending it to our branch.

‘We will need a new leadership within the union.

‘Under such a deal HQ might as well pack up and go home, Royal Mail will just push things through by executive action.’

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Unfair trade and the EU

[Tuesday, again]

Because I think it’s worth reading, here’s David Cronin’s article, Europe’s hidden trade war:

Peter Mandelson has a good reason to oppose holding a referendum on the European Union’s new “reform treaty”. But it is not the reason he has stated: a desire to avoid the “poisonous debates over Europe” that Britain has had in the past.

Instead, Mandelson is doubtlessly aware that any truly democratic scrutiny of the treaty risks exposing the damage wrought by the aggressive free market policies he has been championing as Europe’s commissioner for trade.

Buried on page 101 of the treaty is a clause committing the EU to seek “the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade and on foreign direct investment and the lowering of customs and other barriers”.

To discover the kind of “barriers” of concern to Mandelson, one should consult the “market access strategy” that officials working for him issued in April. It underscored that Brussels will oppose any environmental or consumer protection rules in foreign countries that it views as standing in the way of unfettered capitalism. Governments naughty enough to introduce measures perceived as hostile to western business will face proceedings initiated by the EU at the World Trade Organisation, the paper suggested.

A largely unnoticed memo prepared by the European commission to explain the strategy’s ramifications boasted that EU efforts to strip away these prickly obstacles are already paying dividends. Among the victories chalked up by the free trade zealots advising Mandelson in recent years, the memo pointed out, was a successful challenge to a Mexican law on diesel emissions that would have prevented European vehicles being sold in Mexico.

Since that memo appeared, the commission has sunk even lower by pursuing a case against Brazil. This relates to the seemingly unsexy dossier of retreaded tyres (tyres which have been used and then reprocessed) yet it could have far-reaching repercussions.

In June, the WTO ruled that Brazil was “provisionally justified” to curb imports of retreaded tyres from the EU in order to protect human and animal life. While Brazil contends that the accumulation of tyre waste presents huge ecological problems by creating a risk of soil, air and groundwater contamination, Mandelson’s minions have decided to appeal against the WTO’s verdict. These EU officials, incidentally, work for an institution that has been eager to assert its green credentials by lecturing the world about climate change.

Yet the most troubling manifestation of Mandelson’s vision for world trade has come in the hectoring he has engaged in with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The EU has used every weapon in its arsenal to try to browbeat almost 80 ACP governments into signing free trade deals – or Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), as they are known – by the end of this year. This has included threats to withhold aid.

Once again, these agreements are all about removing barriers – by, for example, making sure that Africa won’t be able to cushion small-scale farmers by taxing imports of heavily-subsidised food from Europe.

During 2005, Mandelson was often photographed sporting the white wristband of the Make Poverty History campaign. Now that he trumpets an EU treaty diametrically opposed to that campaign’s goals, he should chose a fashion accessory that is not so easily stained by hypocrisy.

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No nukes or prescription charges for Scotland, free school meals and social housing instead!

[Tuesday]

If the British ruling class have any plans to back the US in bombing Iran over its nuclear energy programme, they should think again. It could cost the Union…

The SNP/Green Scottish government is keen to push for nuclear disarmament, which is actually a stated aim of the UK Labour government.

First Minister Alex Salmond is seeking support from the international community in his campaign to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons.

He has written to representatives of 189 countries signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mr Salmond is asking them to back his bid for Scotland to have observer status at future treaty talks.

Labour MP Eric Joyce said the letter could “potentially damage our national security interests”.

[…]

Mr Joyce, the MP for Falkirk, said that the UK had very complex relationships with some countries such as Iran and Zimbabwe.

Ah yes, complex relations. In the case of Iran, the British government has in the past intervened with the US to depose a democratically-elected government; as for Zimbabwe, it is a former colony to which the UK government did not meet its commitments and has helped cripple its economy with sanctions.

But neither state threatens the interests of any of the nations in the “United Kingdom”…

What are the other objections?

David Cairns, the Scotland Office minister, says that Alex Salmond should be sorting out the free personal care instead of “cavorting across the world stage with his discredited loony-left policies” and giving comfort to our enemies. Well, they are also his loony policies, since Labour is still formally committed to pursuing “multilateral nuclear disarmament” under a defence policy which dates from the late 1980s.

Well, it looks like the matter of freebies hasn’t escpaed the Scottish Health Secretary:

Charges for prescriptions are to be abolished within four years, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has pledged.

The deputy first minister said some people were being forced to go without vital medication because they could not afford to pay.

And there’s more:

Primary pupils are starting to receive free school meals as part of a pilot project in five parts of Scotland.
The scheme for all children in the first three years of school is under way in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.

They will be followed in the coming days and weeks by schools in East Ayrshire, Fife and the Borders.

The Scottish Government has invested £5m in the pilot scheme, with about 8,500 additional pupils expected to take up the offer in Glasgow alone.

The city already has free fruit, milk and mains-fed water coolers in its schools.

The six-month pilot has been set up to see if providing a nutritious lunch for all children could help improve their diets.

It all sounds very “Old Labour”, doesn’t it? Okay, the SNP are objectively a party of big business, but they are committed to winning independence for Scotland, and to this end will push the limits of devolution and provide reforms for working people to win them over to independence…

With measures like this:

The SNP government will consider a ban on the sale of new council and housing association homes.

A Scottish Government source said it would consult on the option, which would only affect those tenants moving to new-build homes.

The option will be contained in the government’s housing green paper, which should be published in coming weeks.

Now, this shows two things:

1. Socialists north of the border need to work together to ensure that these progressive reforms are implemented. This means some kind of conciliation between Solidarity and the Scottish Socialist Party.

2. Devolution can stall the neo-liberal agenda and allow a return to social democratic politics and reforms to benefit working people, which is why socialists should back a parliament for England.

Here endeth the lecture.