CWU postal workers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action. Since privatisation, Royal Mail has looked to increase profits through attacks on workers conditions. The fight back begins now! We offer our full solidarity!
The fight is on. Postal workers organised by the CWU have sent a resounding message to Royal Mail management. These determined workers are not going to stand by and see their jobs and conditions – and indeed the mail service itself – destroyed by bosses who are only in it for the profit.
After seven weeks of campaigning, the CWU has won massive majorities for strike action. The result has smashed through the Tory anti-trade union turnout thresholds, as if they didn’t exist.
Technically, three ballots were called, covering three groups of Royal Mail employees. The votes for strike action were respectively 94%, 95% and – in the case of the main ballot covering around 110,000 workers – 97% for action on a 76% turnout.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward, in the ballot announcement briefing, told activists that: “we have been on a journey for 20 years to protect members jobs and defend and enhance terms and conditions. Today is an important day in this fight.”
This assertion could be seen from the jubilant mood of union members when the votes were announced.
Assistant general secretary Terry Pullinger told CWU members that the time had come for someone to stand up against the creeping threat of the gig economy, low pay and zero rights. That someone is the CWU.
WE DID IT!!!
We have absolutely smashed the threshold and YES vote in Royal Mail Group Ballot
— The CWU (@CWUnews) October 15, 2019
Messages on the CWU Facebook page, explaining why union members voted for action, all told the same story.
“I voted yes to defend my rights my colleagues rights and my family’s future.”
“I have worked for Royal Mail for 17 years. I strongly believe we should be treated with respect and not treated as a replaceable number.”
“I voted yes because I’m sick to the back teeth of the greed of the few, who think it’s ok to impoverish the many…And I’m sick of the lack of respect for the job that we do, the service we provide and the hard work we put in.”
One member, Jackie, summed it up in her post:
“I voted yes because to not do so would be an insult to all former workers, going back to the Tolpuddle martyrs who fought to get union and workers rights…We need to stand together so we will be heard, so that younger workers will have a secure future.”
As another member, John, put it: “I voted yes for the future…And to stop Royal Mail becoming another gig economy company.”
Speaking to Socialist Appeal, Lee Waker from the East London branch pointed out that the 97% vote for action was much better even than the 90% vote in the previous campaign.
The new management is led by Rico Back – a man who himself admitted that he knew nothing about Royal Mail before taking the CEO job. He has led the charge on ripping up agreements, presenting plans that will cost jobs and leave those in work facing what the union calls “modern-day slavery”.
No wonder a mood has built up on the shop floor in favour of action to defend the hard-earned gains that have been won by the union over the years.
This militant mood has also been reflected in a series of recent local disputes and walk-outs. This includes a strike in Bootle over management racism, where the workers were eventually forced back to work by a legal threat to the union.
This is a warning of the tactics that the bosses will use against workers in the upcoming strike battle. And it shows the need to stand up and be firm in the face of any intimidation.
Now, as Dave Ward put it, the union must “use the strength” that these ballot results have provided. Strike action must be targeted on ‘Black Friday’ and the pre-Christmas shopping period, in order to have the maximum impact.
In reality, the posties will be fighting for all workers. The conditions that Royal Mail management want to impose are what all bosses would like to impose on their workers.
The Labour and trade union movement must be ready to offer full solidarity to CWU members when the time comes, backing them on the picket lines.
Socialist Appeal supporters will be there also, and we will be reporting on every stage of the struggle.
Solidarity is strength! Your fight is our fight!