CWU Royal Mail agreement: Defend our right to strike!

CWU Royal Mail agreement: Defend our right to strike!

By a Coventry Postal Worker

Postal strike in Coventry

Postal strike in Coventry

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) announced before Christmas that it has reached a “landmark agreement with Royal Mail that gives workers legal protections on their terms and conditions, increases pay over three years by 9.06%, sets out improved industrial stability and safeguards pensions”.

But once the dust settles workers may be in for a bit of a shock. Tucked away under all the gloss we find the brutal reality of what the pay talks really means for Royal Mail workers – a no strike deal.

On the surface the pay increase seems generous, with a 3% pay rise in the first year, although employees will only be 0.1% better off once RPI is taken into consideration.

Royal Mail reported £233 million in half-yearly pre-tax profits recently (or £1.58 billion if you include the one-off windfall resulting from a pension reform), so it can well afford a pay increase for workers.

Other aspects of the proposed deal should be welcomed, such as “no employee will be engaged on a zero-hours contract” and “the employer will not outsource, sell or transfer any part of its business”.

Yet the sticking point for CWU members is a clause in the legally binding protections where the agreement can be torn up by Royal Mail if: “there is national-scale industrial action (in the form of a strike or action short of a strike) which has been authorised at national level by the CWU, namely industrial action which either (i) involves employees in the majority of operational workplaces across Royal Mail Group Limited; or (ii) involves employees in an integral part of the operation whereby taking action will have, or is reasonably likely to have, a similarly disruptive effect.”

Once you take away the strongest weapon, our ability to withdraw our labour, then you are left with just a talking shop of constant compromise that inevitably favours the employer and erodes pay and conditions for workers.

Royal Mail plan to introduce new ways of working over the coming years, buzz words like “efficiency” and “incentive arrangements” are littered throughout the proposed agreement and once those details finally emerge, workers will be squeezed even tighter to produce more profit for shareholders.

There is a ballot on the deal this month but postal workers need to look beyond the cash incentives and think long and hard before they cast their vote.

For me, I would never approve of a ballot that takes away my basic human right to strike.

Coventry Firefighters stage strikes over Xmas and New Year

Coventry Firefighters stage strikes over Xmas and New Year

Over the course of the Xmas break, members of the FBU took 3 sets of strike action in the ongoing dispute over pensions, on Xmas eve and New years eve and early in the morning on the 3rd of January. The strikes took place only weeks after it was announced that MP’s would receive a 11 per cent increase in their pay which will also increase their pension entitlement!

Members of the Socialist Party visited the picket line at Radford to show support on each occasion. We urge the maximum support and solidarity for those taking action.

Picket line on Xmas Eve

Picket line on Xmas Eve

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Picket line on New Years Eve

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Picket line on the early hours of 3rd January