If your post hasn’t been arriving as regularly recently, it’s because UK postal workers are desperately trying to save their pensions, their jobs, and the future of the service you rely on. In doing so, they are confronting Royal Mail, the government, and the leaders of ‘their own’ Communication Workers’ Union.
Posties are currently deciding whether to hold a national strike, having forced the union bureaucracy’s hand with a series of local stoppages – both official and unofficial. If – as expected – they decide to take the action, it will be against attacks on working conditions agreed by CWU general secretary Billy Hayes and his team at the end of 2007. The deal was aimed at making Royal Mail attractive to buyers, and though Business Secretary Peter Mandelson can’t find one in the current market, he’s determined that the company should press on with plans to cut the payroll by 40%.
Although the corporate media has started stoking fears that the Christmas post could be delayed, for example, it has been silent on the chaos that would follow if so many posties were forced out of work. Neither is it examining the potential impact on the remaining 60%. As industrial commentator Gregor Gall suggested in an article on The Commune website:
“Ironically, the only serious hope for a stable and lasting resolution to the current dispute is the prospect of a national all-out postal strike. This would use the autumn return to official parliamentary politics to put pressure on the government to tell Royal Mail management to negotiate an acceptable outcome. It looks like it’s going to be a case of going to war to bring about peace.”
The ‘I Support the Postal Workers!’ Facebook group is here.
In a historic development, plantation workers in Sri Lanka have openly declared that they oppose ‘their own’ unions, who have clearly stabbed members in the back one too many times. In their statement, the newly formed Balmoral Estate Action Committee announced that:
“We, the workers of the Balmoral Estate in Agarapathana, have formed our own Action Committee to fight for our rights and call on workers throughout the plantations and other sections of industry to do the same.
“We have taken this step because we have no faith in any of the trade unions that have sold us out time and time again. All the plantation unions are working with the employers and the government to force us to accept another two years of poverty-level wages.”
“Workers cannot put any trust in the unions, which operate as industrial policemen for the government and employers. We say workers everywhere must rely on their own independent strength. That is why we are calling for workers in other estates as well as in factories, schools, hospitals and other workplaces to form their own action committees independent of the unions. We are all finding it impossible to make ends meet.”
As the economic crisis facing working class people intensifies, it is becoming increasingly apparent that trade union bureaucrats act as “industrial policemen for the government and employers”. In the UK and around the world, the same lessons must be learned, and acted upon.