Postal workers have given a resounding ‘NO’ vote to the government’s threats of Royal Mail privatisation. The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) released the results of the consultative ballot on Wednesday 19th June, which also supported a pay claim, and the possibility of a boycott of competitors’ mail. Socialist Appeal supporters in the CWU report on this latest act of defiance and militancy by postal workers against attacks on their livelihoods and on the Royal Mail.
Postal workers have given a resounding ‘NO’ vote to the government’s threats of Royal Mail privatisation. The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) released the results of the consultative ballot on Wednesday 19th June, which also supported a pay claim, and the possibility of a boycott of competitors’ mail.
On a 74 per cent turnout the vote was near unanimous, and led to Royal Mail seeking a high court injunction against the union’s proposed mail boycott. This boycott would affect Downstream Access (DSA) mail which is partially sorted by private companies such as TNT, UK Mail and CitiPost, before being delivered by Royal Mail staff. When these private companies are able to set up on their own, they employ their own staff on low wage zero-hour contracts to deliver the mail. As profitable bulk mail (e.g. a contract with a bank or utility provider) is taken away from Royal Mail, the ability for the business to deliver to unprofitable rural – or other areas that receive a lower volume of mail – will be negatively affected.
The DSA fiasco is a clear case of ‘publicly subsidised, privately profitable’, as Royal Mail staff are being forced to run the national post service – and their own livelihoods – into the ground in order to prepare the ground for privatisation.
If privatisation goes ahead terms and conditions will be slashed across the industry, stamp prices will rise even further, the six-day USO (Universal Service Obligation) will be under threat, and the delivery of post will become a chaotic free-for-all.
Privatisation is not a foregone conclusion, however. Successive governments have tried to take on postal workers and failed. But we are operating in a different dynamic to the boom years of the Blair-Brown New Labour government. In the wake of the financial crash, capitalism is experiencing low growth and is simply limping on to its next crisis. Under these circumstances it is no surprise that the capitalist’s loyal lieutenants in the Tory government are quite willing to cannibalise a part of the state – even a profitable and self-sustaining business – in the interests of capital.
Even if the battle is won by the CWU this time, the threat of privatisation – and the concomitant attack on workers’ pay and conditions – will not go away. It is only by a trade union and Labour-led movement along the path to socialism that decent jobs and full employment for all can be guaranteed.
The leadership of the Labour Party needs to come out in firm support of posties, the CWU, and members of the public across the nation who are opposed to privatisation.
Privatisation is an attack on the working class and is the logical conclusion of a sick and decrepit system that is incapable of advancing the cause of humanity. Only socialism represents that hope.