by Paddy Meehan, CWU Member

CWU members in Royal Mail and Parcelforce across Britain and Northern Ireland were balloted for industrial action in response to a new management’s sledgehammer approach to the union’s Four Pillars agreement. Today the results are in with and incredible 97.1% voted YES on a 75.9% turnout in the Royal Mail group. Similarly Parcelforce workers vote by over 90% for action. There was a high-energy union campaign with huge membership participation to overcome the anti-trade union laws on strikes in Britain, which require a 50%+ participation in the ballot. In the Royal Mail group Royal Mail had head-hunted Rico (with a £5.8million welcome), an anti-union asset stripper, to break the 2018 Four Pillars agreement, reached after the disastrous flotation of the company by the Con-Dem government in 2013.

This agreement ensured pension protection, no two-tiered workforce, a staged reduction in the working week without loss of pay and agreed working practices. Rico’s task is to tear up these guarantees and pave the way for the dismemberment of the company by separating and selling off Parcelforce (parcels being more profitable than letters to deliver). With all this at risk, it’s little wonder that postal workers responded in such a vibrant campaign, both at gate meetings and on social media, to push through a substantial turnout and vote for industrial action. With this resolve and the earliest strike date coming in the face of Black Friday and Christmas online shopping, the CWU is well placed to bring massive pressure to bear on the company. Undoubtedly, strike action at this time will put major pressure on Rico. More may be needed, though. A campaign involving appealing to lower levels of management can further increase this pressure – these workers, organised in Unite, have already expressed their support. Lower level managers are also facing pay and bonus cuts and will be the key to trying to cover the work. Likewise, many agency workers, both seasonal and permanent, could be drawn into the struggle with a further targeted campaign for conversions onto the full contract.

Ultimately, Rico and co may be defeated but how many times do management and shareholders need to be told workers won’t accept the running down of the service? The service shouldn’t have been privatised in the first place. Corbyn has pledged a future Labour government will renationalise it but, for postal workers, this will be too little, too late. Like much of Corbyn’s ‘For the many, not the few’ programme, it will require active workplace and community struggles to im

Over 100,000 Communication Workers’ Union members in Royal Mail and Parcelforce across Britain and Northern Ireland were balloted for industrial action in response to a new management’s sledgehammer approach to the union’s Four Pillars agreement. Today, the results are in, with an incredible 97.1% voting YES on a 75.9% turnout in the Royal Mail group. Similarly, Parcelforce workers voted by over 90% for action. This result was delivered by a high-energy union campaign with huge membership participation to overcome the anti-trade union laws on strikes in Britain, which require a 50%+ participation in the ballot.

Royal Mail had head-hunted Rico (with a £5.8 million welcome), an anti-union asset stripper, to break the 2018 Four Pillars agreement, reached after the disastrous flotation of the company by the Con-Dem government in 2013. This agreement ensured pension protection, no two-tiered workforce, a staged reduction in the working week without loss of pay and agreed working practices. Rico’s task is to tear up these guarantees and pave the way for the dismemberment of the company by separating and selling off Parcelforce (parcels being more profitable than letters to deliver).

With all this at risk, it’s little wonder that postal workers responded in such a vibrant campaign, both at gate meetings and on social media, to push through a substantial turnout and vote for industrial action. With this resolve and the earliest strike date coming in the face of Black Friday and Christmas online shopping, the CWU is well placed to bring massive pressure to bear on the company.

Undoubtedly, strike action at this time will put major pressure on Rico. More may be needed, though. A campaign involving appealing to lower levels of management can further increase this pressure – these workers, organised in Unite, have already expressed their support. Lower level managers are also facing pay and bonus cuts and will be the key to trying to cover the work. Likewise, many agency workers, both seasonal and permanent, could be drawn into the struggle with a further targeted campaign for conversions onto the full contract.

Ultimately, Rico and co may be defeated but how many times do management and shareholders need to be told workers won’t accept the running down of the service? The service shouldn’t have been privatised in the first place. Corbyn has pledged a future Labour government will renationalise it but, for postal workers, this will be too little, too late. Like much of Corbyn’s ‘For the many, not the few’ programme, it will require active workplace and community struggles to implement.