Postal workers strike in Peckham, south London last year (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Postal workers are ­awaiting news on the future of their fight to defend their pay and jobs. CWU union leaders had said ­earlier this month that they hoped to sign off on a final deal with bosses by last Sunday.

The workers have been ­fighting to stop Royal Mail bosses ­transforming the service into a gig economy style parcels courier, with pay and conditions to match. The plans involve sweeping attacks on working conditions, and threaten thousands of jobs. 

Bosses have already begun ­bringing in new starters on worse pay and conditions, and are forcing through cuts to make delivery and collection routes much longer and harder. But the CWU union leaders haven’t called any strikes since December.

And earlier this month, union leaders signed a statement with Royal Mail bosses agreeing to ­cooperate with local changes. CWU general secretary Dave Ward pessimistically said a pay agreement was “not going to be easy because of the company’s finances.”

Meanwhile, suspended union reps and members—some 200—are left at the mercy of an ­“independent review.” One collections worker at Bristol’s mail centre told Socialist Worker that local changes had left most workers feeling very angry. 

“As soon as you mention it, they just go off on one,” he said. “The company are only doing this for the money, not to provide a service. 

“But that’s what people signed up for. I’ve stayed in this job for this long because it’s a good job, and you’re doing a service—and I’ve heard other people say the same thing more than once.”

He said that collections are ­“failing”—not being completed—“all over the place” because they are now too long. He added, “At delivery offices it’s just impossible as they’re ­cutting routes and compressing them into each other.

“The managers are banking on not every address having to be delivered to every day. But if a charity does a mail out, then every address will have to be seen, and the workload will be massive.”

Surjit, another collections worker in Coventry, said that after so long without action, and after the statement with bosses, “The mood is sombre. People are tired. Some are still up for a fight. “We’ve had a long break without action, haven’t we? “That seems to be a pattern in every industry—the RMT union called off Network Rail strikes for talks.

“We could have carried on ­striking—you’ve got to keep the ball rolling, keep the fire burning.” But, he added, workers will still have to vote on any deal that union leaders and bosses reach. 

“It’s got to be put to us—it won’t be a cast-iron thing,” he said. Workers can and should reject any deal that doesn’t protect their pay, jobs and service, and demand a schedule of more strikes—coordinated with other workers when possible—to win.

Civil Service workers ready for largest strikes 

Government workers have struck in different government departments over a period of several months, running up to striking together on Wednesday of this week. The workers, members of the PCS union, are fighting after rejecting a pay increase of just 2 percent last year. 

Union leaders have sought to hit the government with “targeted” action that they say will cause maximum disruption. A section of workers at the  schools’ inspector Ofsted were among those striking last week. 

One striker, Caitlyn, said, “We’re going through a really difficult time at the moment. We’re all working very hard, and we would all just like to get paid to be able to live a reasonable life, rather than feeling like you’re struggling at the end of every month.”

Support has been strong for every strike union leaders have called over the past several months. But the targeted action hasn’t been enough to force the government to budge, or even to talk.

Mike Clancy of the civil service union Prospect, whose members were also set to strike on Wednesday, said bosses at the Cabinet Office had ignored requests for talks. And PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said last week, “Rishi Sunak can resolve our dispute by putting some money on the table… Until he does, our strike action will continue to escalate.”

Some 100,000 civil service workers struck together last month, in their largest strike in over a decade. Their strike on Wednesday was set to be even larger. They show the potential for much harder hitting action, with civil service workers striking together, for longer.

Strikes to shut universities for six days 

University workers in the UCU union are set to strike for six days— from this Wednesday to Friday and from Monday to Wednesday next week. Pressure from union activists forced union leaders to call the strikes after UCU general secretary Jo Grady undemocratically called a two-week “pause” last month for negotiations.

The talks with employers’ organisation Ucea failed to produce a deal on key issues of equality and working conditions. UCU branches have forced the leadership to call a Special Higher Education Sector Conference on 19 April.

It’s an opportunity for members to confront the undemocratic actions of union officials. Grady should be held accountable and face a vote of no confidence. 

The workers are also voting in a fresh ballot for strikes, as the union’s current mandate will run out soon. Big picket lines can demonstrate to union leaders that members will keep fighting. And workers have to push for strike committees that can seize control of the dispute.

Sophie Squire

Original post


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