first class solidarity

17 06 2011

A letter to The Commune

A brief report: around one hundred postal workers walked out of the Almeida St (Islington N1) delivery office on Wednesday 8th June. The walkout was sparked by the suspension of a postal worker on a trumped-up charge. The background context was an increasing pressure on all workers over ‘absorption': that is, taking on extra work over and above each worker’s own round, often to cover absences or staff shortages.

The worker in question was well known in the office to be of good character, and scrupulous in following procedures. Absorption often leads to work going over proper hours, and the main means management have to enforce this is bullying and disciplinary action.

Workers held a canteen meeting, and then walked out for three hours, waiting at the gates until CWU negotiators reported that management had climbed down. Workers seemed confident that management would have to cave, resisting a compromise proposal that the worker would not be suspended, but would have a manager follow them around on their walk.

Workers also held out for a guarantee that there would be no reprisals against individual workers. Perhaps this will give postal workers more confidence that they can resist bullying and threats related to absorption, not only in Islington but around the country. Immediate direct action, based on a mass meeting, meant that management couldn’t get around the action by hiring scab labour, or bringing in managers from elsewhere – a very different dynamic to the 2009 official action.

Tom, London





royal mail deal: a post mortem

16 04 2010

After 18 days’ strike action in London in 2009 the Communication Workers’ Union leadership voted for a return to work. As one reader of The Commune explains, the subsequent outcome has demoralised many:

by ‘Postman Pat’

I work at the West End Delivery Office in west London. After all the voluntary early retirements there’s along the lines of 300 workers on the floor, of those just 40-50 on nights.

The nightshift is sorting-only but because of the cuts in recent years they hardly ever manage to finish the sorting of letters so that’s usually left for the dayshift: so day staff do sorting and delivery. Some days my district doesn’t manage to finish delivery on time because of a cut from 5 to 2 men on sorting, so we don’t leave the office til 1pm. Read the rest of this entry »





union sell-outs – disbelief and dialectics

27 11 2009

by Adam Ford

Many postal workers and their supporters were left disgusted and disbelieving on Bonfire Night. Billy Hayes and his Communication Workers Union executive had unanimously voted to sabotage a series of strikes which enjoyed widespread support, and guaranteed there would be no strikes until after Christmas. What’s more, they had gained nothing concrete in return. When the new year comes around, Royal Mail will still be looking to make thousands of workers redundant, and attack the conditions of those that remain. In the meantime, posties are already facing a meagre festive period, having lost hundreds and even thousands of pounds in wages on the picket lines.

A message on the ‘I Support the Postal Workers!’ Facebook group summed up the thoughts and feelings of many:
“All the postal workers in Stevenage are furious at the strike being called off. They feel that Royal Mail have got what they wanted eg mail being delivered for Xmas. As soon as Xmas is out of the way Royal Mail will be pushing the changes through and not giving a stuff about the workers. Some feel that they have lost wages for nothing.” Read the rest of this entry »





mixed reactions to cwu-royal mail deal

13 11 2009

Interview with a communist post worker

postvan

How strong was the national post strike?

At a national level I would say the strike was very strong. It is hard to say the whole picture from the one location where I work, but judging by Royal Mail Chat [a web forum] — even if the people on there are more militant than average — there were no signs that it was losing momentum. In London there was perhaps a certain tiredness after eighteen weeks of strike action but not such that it was close to exhaustion. At no time did the union claim that they were calling off the action because they were losing people – Royal Mail management claimed that 25% of people were not on strike, but those were fiddled figures given that in that number they included managers and people on holiday, rest day or sick… Read the rest of this entry »





post strikes suspended: this deal is no deal! resume action!

7 11 2009

by Joe Thorne

CWU Letter to Branches including text of final agreement with Royal Mail (large PDF)

At the top of the CWU-Royal Mail agreement is a header. “Final Draft – 5 November 2009 —- 1.10AM”.  This innocuous line is emblematic of the CWU negotiating team’s strategy: it indicates that the text was agreed more than 7 hours after the strikes were called off.  What sort of negotiation strategy is this – to abandon the bargaining power represented in industrial action, on the promise of a deal yet to be finalised?

INDUSTRY Post 075952

Read the rest of this entry »





post strike: solidarity strong amongst manchester students

5 11 2009

by Mark Harrison

Manchester students are running a solidarity campaign to support the city’s postal workers. The campaign involves members of The Commune, Anarchist Federation, Communist Students, the SWP, AWL and individual leftist students.

PostalPicket

Members of the ‘Manchester Students Support the Postal Strike’ group stood alongside workers on pickets this week and shall be returning for the next round of strikes. For many this has been their first time on a picket line and it has been a good opportunity to learn from the Royal Mail workers about the bullying practices of their management. Despite the right wing press demonising the CWU a ComRes survey for the BBC found that 50% of people sympathise most with the postal workers and only 25 per cent with the management. This was demonstrated by those passing by on their way to work, and even Tony Lloyd, the Labour MP for Manchester Central, came down to show his support (ironically he has been a supporter of plans for postal service privatisation). Read the rest of this entry »





let’s form postcode gangs!

4 11 2009

By Joe Thorne

No, not the postcode gangs that generate periodic moral panics in the mainstream media.  We need a new sort of postcode gang: made up of workers and activists who visit the picket lines set up by postal workers as part of their ongoing strikes against cuts in Royal Mail.  The next strikes are on Friday 6th and Monday 9th November. Why not take half an hour to go down your local picket line (there is a delivery office for each postcode), find a little out about the dispute and show some solidarity?

To find out where to go, check out the Next Strikes page on www.supporttheposties.net

PostStrikeCovPA_468x319 Read the rest of this entry »





bulletin for post strike: no deal, crozier

29 10 2009

A bulletin for postal workers: click here for PDF. Print some off and take them down to your local picket line (or if not, visit your local picket line and show your solidarity anyway…).  If you live in Stoke, Stockport or Plymouth, you might want to go down to the picket line at one of the three MDEC centres that are on strike tomorrow (Friday).  On Saturday, from between 6am and 10.30am, visit the picket line at your local delivery office.   That’s the place you might have been to pick up a parcel if it couldn’t be delivered.  If you aren’t sure where it is, call 08457 740740 (a Royal Mail helpline) and say you’d like to know where your delivery office is (perhaps you need to pick up a parcel, but lost the calling card).

nodealcrozier

- Management are feeling the heat

- Public support is on our side

- Step up the strikes: don’t break action for talks Read the rest of this entry »





royal mail management strategy for defeating strike

24 10 2009

Below appear a series of slides from a Royal Mail management strategy document for dealing with the national strike. These amply display the bosses’ craven lack of ‘good faith’ and feckless disdain their employees and the postal service itself. These slides first appeared in Socialist Worker.

royalmaildoc1

If you cannot read the text of the images properly, download the PDF here. Read the rest of this entry »





a letter from a postman

24 10 2009

A Royal Mail worker describes the background to the 2009 national strike vote, including details of how managers have been manipulating the figures to justify cuts.

pat

Old people still write letters the old-fashioned way: by hand, with a biro, folding up the letter into an envelope, writing the address on the front before adding the stamp. Mostly they don’t have email, and while they often have a mobile phone – bought by the family ‘just in case’ – they usually have no idea how to send a text. So Peter Mandelson wasn’t referring to them when he went on TV in May to press for the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail, saying that figures were down due to competition from emails and texts. Read the rest of this entry »





support the postal strikes!

21 10 2009

Tens of thousands of Royal Mail workers will be staging 24 hour strikes over the next two days.  We would encourage anyone who is able to visit picket lines, and talk to workers, as well as looking to set up local strike support groups.

First, from midnight tonight, workers will begin strikes in Mail Centres – the fifty or so large sorting and distribution depots around the country.  Then, from early Friday morning workers in Delivery Offices will be on strike (except where Delivery Offices are based in Mail Centres, in which case they will be out at the same time as Mail Centre staff).  Your local delivery office is where you may have been to pick up a parcel if it could not be delivered.  If you do not know where it is, Royal Mail provides a service you can use to find out: call 08457 740 740.

post-strike1

Read the rest of this entry »





what is the london postal strike really about?

8 10 2009

Sheila Cohen (NUJ) interviews a London Divisional Rep and a workplace rep from North London to find out. Overall, the situation appears to be that top Royal Mail management are determined to follow a “New Labour” agenda of targets and savings on the backs of postal workers – however little sense that makes.

poststrikepostbox

Workplace activists are equally determined to resist the intolerable impact on their members’ incomes and working lives. In some ways, it’s an irreconcilable impasse between the logic of neo-liberal capitalism and the reality of an industry which can only rationally be run as a public service. As our Divisional Rep puts it, “There’s a War Going On” – and as the workplace rep comments ruefully on the 2007 strike, “We had Royal Mail, and we let it go”.

(Download PDF of this interview in pamphlet form: To order online for 50p + 50p postage,  ‘donate’ the money here, making sure to specify in the text box what you are ordering) Read the rest of this entry »





no postal peace without an all-out strike

22 09 2009

by Gregor Gall

Have you noticed your post isn’t arriving as regularly as it usually does? Have you noticed there are many days when you expected to get post but didn’t get a thing?

poststrikepostbox

For a strike involving tens of thousands of workers and affecting millions of householders and businesses, debate about the current postal dispute is worryingly absent from the political arena. Neither Royal Mail nor the government is keen to say anything, whether good, bad or indifferent, about it. There is a wall of almost impenetrable silence. Indeed, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has accused the government of “going on strike” by refusing to do or say anything. The reason, the CWU alleges, is that the government is still smarting from having lost its battle to partially privatise Royal Mail earlier this year after a union-led rebellion. Read the rest of this entry »





london cwu members to vote on labour party affiliation

15 09 2009

by Jack Staunton

Thousands of members of the London region of the Communications Workers’ Union are to vote in an ‘indicative ballot’ over affiliation to the Labour Party. The vote comes not only during a round of post strikes as the government makes sharp cuts in Royal Mail, but also at a time when Gordon Brown’s party are increasingly dependent on union funding.

The CWU has furthermore tabled a motion on political representation at this week’s Trades Union Congress in Liverpool; however, such resolutions, and indeed the current ‘indicative ballot’ are non-binding and most of the union leadership have only demanded a few crumbs from Labour in exchange for their millions of pounds of backing. Previous threats against the Labour leadership have rarely been backed up. Read the rest of this entry »








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