Postal workers' national strikes, 2007

359 posts / 0 new
Last post
Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jun 23 2007 17:01

If you fancy writing a rebuttal, letters page limit is 800 words* wink.

*Well, actually, it's more like 1,000 but that's only cos people send in 2,000 word diatribes and expect me to cut them down and still have them make sense, bastards....

Forty Twenty's picture
Forty Twenty
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Jun 23 2007 19:36

Just reading that article, I don't see where it says everything was ok with the UPW/UCW, but it was certainly better than it was once Johnson and Hayes turned up. We thought Jackson and Tuffin were bad, but they were nothing on Johnson and Hayes. I remember very well the UCW defending me when I was set up by a couple of bosses for Wilful Delay and looking at the sack. I also remember walking out in support of NHS workers and spending the day on the picket line of the local hospital in 1982. That was supported by the UCW as it was called by the TUC. I can't imagine the TUC or the CWU called for anything like that now.

tony
Offline
Joined: 23-08-06
Jun 24 2007 17:34
Devrim wrote:
]Actually on a factual point, I have just remember that they called 24 hour strikes at two offices in 1987 over the 43 hour week, no strikes for 16 years.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The CWU Executive did call a series of one day national strikes during the summer of 1996 against the 'Employee Agenda' proposals - the main plank of which was 'teamworking'. Our National Secretary at the time was Alan Johnson who would have accepted the proposals, and looked really unhappy everytime he appeared on TV in connection with the dispute. The Postal Executive called the Industrial Action after the membership, mobilised by local Reps, committees and activists, voted overwhelmingly to reject the 'Employee Agenda'. After seven or eight weeks of weekly one day strikes, Tony Blair (then Leader of the Opposition) urged the membership to accept a slightly amended version. Another ballot was held, with Alan Johnson and Tony Blair hoping that the membership would be fed up with losing wages and would accept the proposals, but they again voted overwhelmingly to reject and continue Industrial Action. Royal Mail then dropped the proposals, though they have introduced bits of it in a piecemeal fashion since then, mainly through the 'Way Forward' Agreement which was narrowly accepted in a ballot in 2002.
The National strike action on Friday will be the first for 11 years, and the first under the 'New Labour' Goverment.

Beltov
Offline
Joined: 10-05-05
Jun 24 2007 19:47

Are the high street Post Offices coming out too, or just the sorting and delivery side of things?

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
Jun 24 2007 20:12
tony wrote:
The CWU Executive did call a series of one day national strikes during the summer of 1996 against the 'Employee Agenda' proposals - the main plank of which was 'teamworking'

Tony, my point was about somebody looking back to Tuffin's period as a sort of golden age. I left in 1989, so I have very little idea about what you are talking about from '96. The union, though, was always a part of the problem.
Devrim

tony
Offline
Joined: 23-08-06
Jun 25 2007 20:30

Yes members in Crown Offices (main post offices still run by Post Office Ltd) have been called to strike on Friday. The sub offices and franchised offices are non-unionised.

Beltov
Offline
Joined: 10-05-05
Jun 26 2007 20:52

Thanks for clearing that up.

Also, the ICC leaflet has been updated in the light of the ballot decision. Here is the final version...

============

Postal dispute: Workers need control of the struggle

The result of the ballot held by the Communication Workers Union – over 77% in favour of industrial action in a two-thirds turn-out – is an indication that there is a great deal of anger amongst postal workers about the latest attack on their pay and conditions: a 2.5% pay offer which is well under the rate of inflation, and plans for ‘modernising’ Royal Mail which will mean job cuts and deteriorating conditions at work.

Despite top level negotiations, the first one-day national strike has now been called.

Many militant workers feel that a series of one-day strikes is a not going to be very effective and that the best alternative is to demand an all-out, indefinite strike. But the tactics and methods of the struggle is something that workers themselves need to debate. The ballot system, in fact the whole hierarchical union structure, does not allow such a debate to take place, still less does it enable the workers to make and carry out their own decisions. In virtually every struggle in the post office in recent years, workers have ignored the official union procedures and voted in mass meetings to come out on strike. Such mass meetings need to be held again now, to discuss the best means for waging this struggle, and to coordinate directly with other workplaces.

Obviously any action in the Royal Mail needs to involve as many postal workers as possible, regardless of workplace or category. But the strength of any movement of the working class does not reside in its ability to hold out for as long as possible against the bosses, who will always have the support of the rest of the ruling class, their media and their state. It resides above all in the ability of the struggle to spread, to become a mass struggle that builds a balance of forces against the bosses and the state.

It is not only postal workers who face attacks on their pay and conditions. There is growing discontent in the NHS, in the civil service, in education, in the Airbus factories, in transport and many other sectors. Postal workers discussing industrial action should also discuss how to make links with other sectors, how to win their solidarity, how to act together. And here again they cannot rely on the unions. They need to go directly to other workplaces and sectors, sending delegations to the nearest factory, hospital or school, holding joint meetings, raising common demands. These are the methods of struggle that alone can make our exploiters think twice about exploiting us even harder than they are already. And they are also the methods that allow us to seriously pose the question of how we can do away with exploitation altogether, and reorganise society in the interests of the vast majority of humanity.

World Revolution 24/6/7

Available as a lealet to download and distribute here:
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/305/postal-dispute

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Jun 27 2007 19:23

Just found this, appears to be mainly anti-strike. Has some postal workers on it as well though, and like all pro-business websites, up-to-date news.

http://www.hellmail .co.uk/

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jun 27 2007 19:46

yeah interesting discussion here:
http://www. hellmail.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=894

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Jun 29 2007 12:17

Any feedback from the strike yet? We've been to various sorting offices and depots this week with the leaflet. I get the impression that the union is very much in control. Workers who are used to taking wildcat action on local issues are very much aware of the problem of organising at national level and see the union as the only way of coordinating action; and because of that they are much more easily persuaded by arguments along the lines of 'we have to stick to the trade union laws otherwise they will sequestrate the union'. One of our comrades is a postie up in Liverpool and I am hoping to hear something from him soon.

On the more general level, this is more than a dispute between the postal workers and the Royal Mail. The bourgeoisie will certainly use it as a 'test case' for pushing through the current round of wage-cuts (ie below inflation wage rises) throughout the public sector, given that the postal workers are probably the most militant sector of the working class in the UK at the moment.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jun 29 2007 13:37

Yeah, that's true. This national strike will be bigger considerably bigger than the wildcats in 2003, which had what 30-50,000 strikers?

If the posties lose we (local govt) haven't got much chance, ditto nurses, civil servants, etc. What we should really do is all strike together, but being divided up into different unions is a killer.

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Jun 29 2007 15:12

went down to the brighton picket earlier, will hopefully write something up for the newswire asap

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jun 29 2007 15:23

DOit!

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Jun 29 2007 15:27

working on it. John., check internal

streathamite
Offline
Joined: 8-05-07
Jun 29 2007 16:16
john wrote:
What we should really do is all strike together, but being divided up into different unions is a killer.

won't you also get done for illegal 'sympathy striking'?

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Jun 29 2007 16:47

http://libcom.org/news/postal-strike-picket-line-interview-29062007

gav's picture
gav
Offline
Joined: 22-09-03
Jun 29 2007 17:17

Here is my interview with two postal workers emptying a central London post box.

gav: what are you doing? there is a strike on.
postal worker: i know.
gav: scab.
postal worker: i'm not a scab, i'm a manager.
gav: you're still a prick.

Lurch
Offline
Joined: 15-10-05
Jun 29 2007 17:17

Interesting stuff Joseph K. Any more from any more?

John wrote:

Quote:
What we should really do is all strike together, but being divided up into different unions is a killer.

streathamite wrote:

Quote:
won't you also get done for illegal 'sympathy striking'?

S'pose it depends on how many do it, what the strength of the movement is. Aint happening yet but agree with John's sentiments.

Forty Twenty's picture
Forty Twenty
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Jun 29 2007 20:54
gav wrote:
Here is my interview with two postal workers emptying a central London post box.

gav: what are you doing? there is a strike on.
postal worker: i know.
gav: scab.
postal worker: i'm not a scab, i'm a manager.
gav: you're still a prick.

It must be an attitude which is drummed into them. But they are members of Amicus and as they are performing our work during a strike, they are scabs. They see the opportunity of strike breaking as a great adventure and look very disappointed whenever there is a strike on somewhere and they aren't called to break it. Only last week parasites like this were at Kirkby, Liverpool scabbing.
Today, our office was solid. 100% non turnout. Local press arrived and took some photographs of our picket line holding a IWW flag and CWU placard. Great support from the public despite the Royal Mail propaganda campaign. It's a pity the momentum might be lost by waiting for negotiations with that pair of turds.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jun 30 2007 12:04
streathamite wrote:
john wrote:
What we should really do is all strike together, but being divided up into different unions is a killer.

won't you also get done for illegal 'sympathy striking'?

Well unions are allowed to strike if they have their own claims for their own members. At the moment we all do, because we've all been offered basically the same cut as the posties. In local govt we've been offered 2%. We're "consulting" over strike action, a pre-ballot activity. RCN are balloting, PCS struck on Mayday. It's frustrating we're divided. We're letting the postal workers fight first, there are only 130,000 of them, there are over a million of us.

Joseph K interviewed som Brighton strikers:
http://libcom.org/news/postal-strike-picket-line-interview-29062007

Forty Twenty - cheers for the update, that's good news about your place.

And gav - ha ha ha grin

ernie
Offline
Joined: 19-04-06
Jun 30 2007 22:38

John you right being divided up by the unions is shit and very frustrating. Thus, the most important question is how to overcome this, how do we begin to breakdown through these prison walls the unions have constructed? At one level, as we say in our leaflet this means struggling workers organising mass assemblies and deciding upon what actions to take. At another level, there is also a need for militant workers to make contact with each across the unions and sectoral diivide out side of the struggle. There must be a feeling for this within the most militant workers because next weekend there is a meeting to form some form of national network of rank-and-file shop stewards,this probably is the unions seeking to contain such sentiments within the union framework. In the 1980's there we efforts to set up struggle committees in France and the UK, they were embryonic and the situation is not the same today, but there is a need for militant workers to meet together and discuss.

streathamite
Offline
Joined: 8-05-07
Jul 2 2007 10:58
John wrote:
Well unions are allowed to strike if they have their own claims for their own members. At the moment we all do, because we've all been offered basically the same cut as the posties. In local govt we've been offered 2%. We're "consulting" over strike action, a pre-ballot activity. RCN are balloting, PCS struck on Mayday. It's frustrating we're divided. We're letting the postal workers fight first, there are only 130,000 of them, there are over a million of us.

let me know how it goes - I'll willingly run a strike support group, rattle buckets, organise benefits etc.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Jul 2 2007 11:34

Did everyone know there was another strike today? I didn't:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6751353,00.html

Quote:
ome main post offices could be closed on Monday as the Royal Mail is hit by a fresh strike in a row over transferring services to WH Smith stores.

Hundreds of members of the Communication Workers Union will take industrial action from 6am to midday in protest at plans to close 85 so-called Crown post offices and move their services to the high street retailer.

Workers at the UK's 465 Crown Offices staged a similar walkout on Friday as part of the national postal strike, which crippled deliveries.

also: http://www.hemscott.com/news/latest-news/item.do?newsId=46059229391495

also some nice photos on indymedia from Friday's: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/07/374790.html

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jul 2 2007 11:50

http://libcom.org/news catch!!

Forty Twenty's picture
Forty Twenty
Offline
Joined: 11-02-07
Jul 3 2007 17:19

Latest from HQ.

TO: ALL BRANCHES WITH POSTAL MEMBERS

Dear Colleague

ROYAL MAIL DISPUTE

The Postal Executive met today and agreed that further announcements on strike action will be communicated following Thursday’s Joint Consultative meeting.

We will also be writing to Allan Leighton insisting on fresh negotiations to resolve the dispute.

Further information will be sent out in due course.

Yours sincerely

Dave Ward
Deputy General Secretary (P)

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Jul 3 2007 22:02

I got this from our comrade up on Merseyside:

I'm writing a small account of the first one day strike on Merseyside where I was one of the pickets. Also, contained in this report are some of the discussions I had with perhaps only 4 pickets. Also contained are some of my comments which are obviously coloured by my political involvement with the ICC. Naturally, comrades can accept or reject these comments but I hope I have conveyed an idea of where this strike is currently at. This strike is only in its first days but there needs to be a deepening of its demands and methods of striking

The one day posties strike in Royal Mail was solid in Merseyside. I was told that only 6 workers actually crossed picket lines that day throughout Merseyside. The pickets ( 6 to a picket being a 'legal' requirement) was hugely bolstered by the majority of my office's 40 posties at 5.30 am. Right away this turnout was of immense moral advantage, all posties in our office are incredibly angry at the Royal Mail offer and want to show this. This of course is only part of the story. There was a marked reluctance to travel to other pickets (in my office even the suggestion made by myself that we go to the picket at the Crown Post Office in the centre of town was meet by a "Yeah but maybe later!" ) and the essential feeling engendered was that each office should keep to their own 'turf'.
There is a huge danger in this, because if it is allowed to stand it will mean that nationally the CWU union machine can keep control of the struggle through localising the movement Our CWU rep talked to us and asked that the picket be 'low key' he also volunteered other information which turned out to be incorrect ( that there was another strike planned for the following Tuesday) an hour later we had a visit from the police, twice once from the uniforms and another from the jacks. The Sergent saluted us on showing our solidarity but having shown it said that maybe we should go to the pub a little later at 9.00 when the earliest of the local alehouses open up.This was ignored not for the whole day but thankfully at least for the life of the picket. Later, we had a rare occasion to socialise together.The posties understanding the 'legal situation' went and had a game of football at the riverpoint until the police hopped it and as one postie put it.... "Can they really arrest 40 posties?" - a moot point ! they really can make that many arrests but only when the struggle gets more serious and at this point the CWU and the police want it 'low key'.

I intervened with the ICC leaflet and this took most of my fellow workers by suprise. " We had an idea that you was a 'red' but not this organised!" To be honest I didn't have a great deal of discussion but the discussions that I had were important.
1st. discussion: The unions (CWU) want to 'sell us out'
There was a deal of cynicism particularly from the posties who were involved in the '96 strike but this only regarding the 'leadership' there still is a lot of faith in the union machine at the local branch level but particularly in the office 'reps' whom it must be said are sincere in their support for this strike.
2nd discussion: Taking the fight to other workers: Any attempt to move the fight forward even slightly out of the union framework at this point in time (for example going to other sectors such as hospital workers as pointed out in the ICC leaflet) was considered to be the domain of the CWU and other unions.This being said there was an agreement that other public sector workers were under the cosh and that there is a need for support. How, this will take place? again the union will decide. Here, all of the pickets I discussed with supported this framework.
Above all, and taking into account the fact that this strike is in its earliest days the lack of
information from the CWU executive was not considered to be worrying. I have no doubt that this will change as the strike continues.
3rd discussion: Royal Mail will capitulate to negotiation with the CWU when they see the strength of the movement.
This was a line that was pushed particularly by the CWU, and it is a line which is being torn to shreds today. Royal Mail are taking an intransigent line and want to implement its 'plan'. Also, this labour government needs to attack and keep down wages in the public sector. In all likelihood this is going to be a long drawn-out rolling strike.At this moment in time this fact is beginning to sink in
The strike is going forward! postal workers need to draw out lessons of past strikes (Belfast and Exeter) This being said it would seem that whilst we have seen many militant struggles at the local level at this point in time the CWU have a control of the strike.

In the immediate future a rally is being planned for Merseyside we need to organise for this. Above all, postal workers need to extend their struggle.

Melmoth

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Jul 11 2007 08:35

Another 24 hour strike Thursday. No time to write up for news atm.

Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
Offline
Joined: 7-05-06
Jul 11 2007 21:04
Mike Harman wrote:
Another 24 hour strike Thursday.

Regarding the Thurs/Fri strike beginning tomorrow;

I'm informed that a demo has been called at short notice (I believe by the London District Committee of the union) to coincide with the strike.

Its at 11.30 on Friday outside Royal Mail Headquarters at 148 Old Street, London EC1V 9HQ.

ernie
Offline
Joined: 19-04-06
Jul 12 2007 20:59

Ret Thanks for the news, we may be able to get to that.
We have produced our most recent article on the postal strike as a leaflet for distribution tomorrow, it is not on the website at the moment but anyone wants a copy I can send them a copy -can i send document via PM?- if they let me know.

Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
Offline
Joined: 7-05-06
Jul 12 2007 21:10

My postie informant black bloc writes;
The leaflet I saw was signed by the London Division Committee but I wrongly took that as a sign of them doing it on their own initative when it seems the national union is fully involved. While realistically it will be largely London posties who attend, the national secretary will be there and it is conceived essentially as a media event. Still, it will be interesting to feel the mood. .... My main feeling is that this may be a long and important strike. Leighton and Crozier - the top management - seem to be playing it hard determined to win the strike and get the unspecified 'modernisation' that they want.

Topic locked