Postal Workers

The postal services trade union, the CWU, has balloted it’s members on strike action in the face of pay cuts and job losses. After the massive cash bail out of the Banks with our money, they are intent on the destruction on one of the last public owned services. Management have forwarded these cuts to the Workers as part of a modernisation programme, which in turn will lead to the selling of our Post Offices. Already thousands of jobs have been lost, as deliveries have been cut, and Post Offices shut. Fight back and help defend your Post service, or will we see the privatisation of it. Have we had better services after the selling of gas, electricity, water and transport? No prices have gone up, and the service is worse, whilst the few get the wealth. It will be the £1 stamp by next Christmas.

Despite intense pressure and intimidation by Royal Mail bosses, the entire Government, all 3 main political parties, the CBI and every boss keen to exploit their workers for profit. On the sidelines, historic strikebreakers like TNT (remember the printers Wapping strike?), Manpower and other private companies hoping to benefit from the break-up of Royal Mail are licking their lips in anticipation. Much is being made of the need for postal workers (both CWU members and the ununionised) to accept ‘modernisation’ in the interests of the Royal Mail business. CWU members have already seen at least 50,000 jobs go in recent years, whilst last year Royal Mail made an operating profit of some £321million, with top bosses raking in huge bonuses. Every worker, be they in the private or public sectors, knows that ‘modernisation’ means

On Tuesday 13th October, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) tabled a proposal to resolve the current postal strike. That offer has been published openly and is available on the website.

If Royal Mail were really sincere about reaching an agreement with the Union that aligned the interests of customers, employees and the company as a whole, then they would pick up this offer, but Royal Mail managing director Mark Higson rejected it and, despite last minute talks as well, the union has announced a strike (76% of workers voted in favour of strike action). Mark Higson is on a salary of £848,000 (plus a bonus of £313,000 last year). Adam Crozier, Chief Executive, ‘earned’ a salary of £3,612,000 with a bonus of £2,467,000! Together that’s about 180 times what the average Postie earns.

Royal Mail justify this by saying that in the year ended 31 March 2009, ”Royal Mail more than doubled its profits in spite of the sharp drop in the market and tough economic conditions.” So why are they penny-pinching by closing post offices and squeezing workers?

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, has said:

“Royal Mail has never really been engaged in modernisation. They’ve been running down the business, running down services & cutting costs & it’s that business plan that postal workers have overwhelmingly rejected”

“We need a national agreement which secures a fair deal on modernisation & reward for the efforts of postal workers in transforming the business. We want reassurances on job security, covering both redundancies & full-time part-time ratios. Crucial to an agreement is fair workloads with agreed standards of measurement. Constantly disciplining postal workers will not improve efficiencies but will drive an ever bigger wedge between workers and what they are told is modernisation. “

92% of Leeds’ Bin Workers have voted to reject:

The Leeds City councils ‘best and final’ deal and continue their strike. It now looks as if the strikers will be out until Christmas.

The deal offered reduced pay-cuts, but asked workers to work harder for their money. Leeds residents say that the bin workers already work at full pace and are often seen running down the street. Union officials said that these ‘productivity clauses’ were “impossible to carry out”.

Leeds’ joint Liberal Democrat and Conservative leaders said that they were “puzzled, disappointed and dismayed” that the offer had been voted down, but then this bunch of bureaucratic parasites  haven’t done an honest days work in their lives!

The strikers retain widespread public sympathy. A benefit concert for them at the weekend, led by actor and musician Keith Allen, featured a “Binmen’s Ballet” song and dance routine by crews, featuring mobile phone rings all taken from the Strawbs’ 1973 hit Part of the Union and choreographed as Refuse to be Beat.

Bus Strikes in Sheffield:

TALKS was held 21 Oct against a background of four threatened one-day bus strikes in Sheffield. Representatives of the First bus group and the union, Unite, were discussing two separate disputes involving drivers. Walkouts affecting all of South Yorkshire – over a pay freeze in the current financial year – are scheduled for Friday and Monday. Meanwhile, a dispute about disciplinary procedures at the Olive Grove Depot has escalated to the threat of strikes in Sheffield only on Sunday, when Fright Night, which is being sponsored by First, is being held in the city centre, and on Saturday, October 31, which is Halloween. Those Talks between South Yorkshire’s largest bus operator and its drivers have broken down – meaning threatened strikes are definitely going ahead.

First drivers initially voted to strike when they turned down a two-year pay deal put forward by bosses, but postponed the plan when their union, Unite, entered into new talks with the bus company. As an incentive to accept the pay deal, which sees no extra cash this year but a 2.5 per cent increase next year, bosses also offered drivers one free pass for a child and a £100 shopping voucher.

Meanwhile The Firefighters

Have been urged to call off their second 24-hour strike planned for tomorrow as last ditch talks to avert action got underway today. Firefighters say they are opposed to the plan because the proposed longer day shifts will cause problems for childcare arrangements and they fear that eventually bosses want to reduce the number of firefighters working nights.

South Yorkshire’s chief fire officer Mark Smitherman said was disappointed at the industrial action taken at the start of the week and hoped the second proposed strike – over new shift patterns – would be called off.

Managers and the Fire Brigades Union were due to meet at 9am today (22nd Oct) to discuss the dispute. Firefighters are also angry at bosses for planning to terminate contracts on New Year’s Day and to issue them with new terms and conditions.

Along with postal workers set to stage a 24hr walk-out on Friday (which means that Yorkshire may see Postal Workers, Bin Workers Fire Fighters Bus Drivers all on strike this Friday) the media are predicting another ‘Winter of Discontent’, BUT WE HAVE EVERY REASON TO BE F***ING DISCONTENT!

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