By Richie Venton SSP national workplace organiser
Royal Mail workers have voted by a record-breaking majority to take national strike action against the concerted assault on their jobs, pay, workloads, the service they deliver to the public – and the attempts to smash the Communication Workers’ Union as a national union.
They voted by over 3:1 for national strikes – a 76.24 per cent YES vote in an extremely high turnout of 67 per cent. 61,623 voted YES, 19,207 NO.
This is a mass rejection of the bully-boy rule of Royal Mail bosses – egged on in their reign of terror by the job-cutting, privatising New Labour government, headed up in their crusade against CWU members by Lord Mandelson.
It is a mass mandate for effective, united and immediate strike action, at a time of year when the volume of mail rockets, workloads rise, and the value of our posties is even more recognised by the public.
Royal Mail spin-doctors are trying to whip up public fury at these workers daring to ‘disrupt Christmas’ – the same bosses who have ‘disrupted’ the lives of 60,000 workers (and their families) who have lost their jobs with Royal Mail in the last 5 years.
Willie Marshall, secretary of the Scotland no2 branch of the CWU, told me what he thinks of the vote.
“This is a bigger majority even than the 74 per cent YES vote in 2007, the last time we had a national strike. I wasn’t surprised at the massive turnout, when you look at the level of anger amongst members.
It proves members are ready for the fight. And this is not about pay; it’s about the survival of Royal Mail.
Members want the strike action within 7 days after the national meeting of regional secretaries and divisional reps on 12th October. We want the action as soon as possible, and for at least the first strikes to involve the entire workforce, all out together, to show our unity and solidarity.”
Members of the Scottish Socialist Party inside the CWU played their full part in winning this landslide for unified national strike action. The SSP does not hesitate in giving full-blooded support to CWU members forced to strike against the decimation of jobs, public services, pay, pensions and union rights. We will do all we can to build public support for their strike action, until they win a decent deal that defends jobs, services, conditions and workplace rights.
And we will do what we can to press the leadership of UNITE to call on their members not to be used as organised scabs during strikes.
Royal Mail managers used to be in a union called CMA, which has now merged into UNITE. Top dogs in Royal Mail have prayed in vain for a NO vote, or at least a poor turnout in the strike ballot, but lost no time in organising for managers to be deployed as scabs to sustain the pretence of a postal service just in case CWU members had the audacity to vote YES!
They have regularly jetted managers into local offices on strike, usually taking care to deploy them from far-flung places, to reduce the likelihood of them taking sympathy action with CWU members they already know.
Willie Marshall commented to me, “The excuse they used for doing striking CWU members’ work during local strikes is that nobody informed them! That is nonsense, but they can’t use that excuse this time.”
Leaders of UNITE should instruct their members to do their normal duties, not other people’s jobs, and start a campaign for a strike ballot of their own members in Royal Mail – many of whose jobs are also on an extremely shaky nail.
The national CWU leadership have been handed a massive mandate to forge ahead with national strikes, to keep up the momentum, and they should immediately approach UNITE to organise solidarity with their battle for the survival of Royal Mail as a public service – rather than stand silent as UNITE members are organised by top management as a battalion of scabs.
Stand by your posties – victory to the CWU!