Communication Workers Union backs Jeremy Corbyn

Communication Workers Union backs Jeremy Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn with CWU general secretary Dave Ward – pic from BBC

The below article by Coventry Socialist Party and CWU member Lenny Shail was carried in this weeks issue of The Socialist newspaper. The trade unions have a key role in building support for Jeremy. 

A special press conference organised by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) alongside Jeremy Corbyn himself, saw the union announce its official support for Corbyn in the Labour leadership election.

Before the press conference, a special political briefing by CWU general secretary Dave Ward on behalf of the union’s executive committee was given to branch representatives, explaining the unanimous decision of the executive committee to continue support for Corbyn.

Dave highlighted the significance of motion 47 from CWU conference that was passed, which “predicted the attacks” and the need for the union to do everything it could to organise to defend Corbyn against the right-wing Blairites. Motion 47 was moved and seconded by Socialist Party members at the conference in May.

A small number of CWU branch officers in attendance, who were often the main speakers in opposition to any motions calling for an end to the union’s blind support for New Labour before Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, were the only opposition to the decision.

Brian Kenny from Merseyside branch, before Dave Ward had even spoken, demanded to know why Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith hadn’t been invited. Another branch officer simply reminded the meeting and Brian that the CWU is independent of the Labour Party and can do what it wants in the interests of its members!

It will be of no surprise to many to hear that Brian Kenny also happens to be a Labour councillor in Wirral.

Mobilise for Jeremy Corbyn

Socialist Party members and others at the meeting raised that the immediate task is to mobilise in support of Corbyn’s re-election – pointing to the many #keepcorbyn rallies and meetings that have taken place across the country. But to also consolidate the mass support for Corbyn by organising and preparing to remake Labour as a socialist, working class party that really can be a voice for the 99%.

The scaremongering threats of a Labour split that were raised by the tiny number of Smith supporters were answered simply by one Socialist Party member: ”Let the Blairites go and if they don’t, mandatory re-selection is needed to kick them all out and the same with the cuts-making councillors”.

The need for an overhaul in the democratic structures of the Labour Party and opening up to the workers’ and socialist movement, and a return to a federal structure, was raised and received support.

Socialist Party members speaking at the meeting finished by making the case for a fighting socialist programme of renationalisation of key industries including the whole of the communications industry, workers’ rights, better pay, more affordable housing and defence of the NHS, etc, to inspire and win over the mass of working class to the battle against the Blairites, Tories and austerity itself.

Jeremy Corbyn gave a passionate speech to end the meeting with a call to arms for CWU members to get involved in the fight for his re-election and change the course of the Labour Party.

We very much welcome and support Jeremy’s clear call for Royal Mail to be taken back into public ownership, however it was unfortunate that when asked by the press whether he would support the renationalisation of British Telecom he said that wasn’t being considered.

The Socialist Party supports the complete renationalisation of Royal Mail and BT but we would go further and call for all the main postal and telecommunications industries to be brought under genuine democratic workers’ control and public ownership – to be run in the interests of society as a whole and not the profits of major private communications companies.

Our best pictures of today’s protest

Our best pictures of today’s protest

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Off to London – Tories out!

Over 50 people from Coventry and Leamington joined the anti-austerity protest in London today, including a number of members of Coventry Socialist Party. Below are some of the best pictures we took today!

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Time for Cameron to go – and take the rest of the Tories with him!

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The FBU fire engine!

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Teachers say no to forced academisation

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Tories out – time for a general strike!

Live: Over 50 protestors from Coventry and Leamington on anti-austerity protest

Live: Over 50 protestors from Coventry and Leamington on anti-austerity protest

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Protesters from Coventry and Northamptonshire

Over 50 protesters from Coventry and Leamington have joined thousands on the anti-austerity march in London today. Many have placards raising what have been termed the “#4Demands” – health, homes, jobs and education. It is right to raise these demands – and we need to build a movement that will fight for them.

Live: Coventry Socialists join London protest against austerity

Live: Coventry Socialists join London protest against austerity

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On the bus to London – Tories out!

Coventry Socialist Party members are joining a march against austerity in London today. Trade unionists on the Coventry bus represented a number of unions including Unite, UNISON, Coventry TUC, NUT, CWU and PCS.

Jane Nellist from Coventry NUT said “We are joining the march today because we have to ensure that we build a fightback against Tory plans to destroy our public services.”

Socialists will be building the fight against austerity and arguing for a socialist alternative to capitalism. The Tories are split, the trade union movement needs to organise a 24 hour general strike to co-ordinate the fightback!

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NUT and CWU members from Coventry

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Socialist election campaign launched in Coventry

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

Dave Nellist addresses the meeting

77 people attended the launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election campaign in Coventry on February 25th. The Socialist Party, which organised the meeting, is standing as part of TUSC alongside the RMT trade union and many leading trade unionists.

Judy Griffiths, Coventry CWU branch secretary and prospective TUSC candidate, chaired the meeting, at which speakers from the FBU, PCS, Unison, Unite, RMT, NUT and NUS spoke (all speaking in a personal capacity), reflecting the base of TUSC and the Socialist Party in the unions across the city.

Jordan Jefferies, a sixth-form student in Coventry and a Socialist Party member, spoke about the anger felt by many young people against austerity, and said that TUSC has been amazing in attempting to engage the people who are disillusioned and disinterested in politics. People are disillusioned and angry with establishment politics and rightly so. The Socialist Party and TUSC are out to build the opposition to “business as usual”.

Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT President and prospective TUSC candidate, spoke about the effects she sees of austerity on children in her job as a teacher.

Nick Harrison, Coventry Fire Brigades Union borough rep had been on strike with his union the same day – supported on the picket lines by Socialist Party and TUSC activists – and spoke about their dispute, and the need for a viable political alternative to Labour.

Lee Cooper, RMT Coventry No.1 branch secretary, spoke about the City Link scandal, the effect it had on workers and the need for a working class political voice.

Former Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist spoke about the TUSC project more widely, and why it is significant in the development of a new party for ordinary people.

This meeting showed some of the appetite in Coventry for a political party that sticks up for ordinary people. Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain show the potential for building an anti-austerity alternative. The Socialist Party will build TUSC and fight for bold socialist policies to combat not just austerity, but the cause of austerity – the capitalist system.

Sign up here to get involved in the Socialist Campaign Team for the election!

“Either We Fight, Or We Lay Down And Die” – Protest At Coventry City Link

“Either We Fight, Or We Lay Down And Die” – Protest At Coventry City Link

City Link workers and RMT activists on the protest

City Link workers and RMT activists on the protest

Dozens of people protested outside City Link’s Coventry office on New Years Eve against the company’s disgraceful sacking of almost 3000 workers, and to call for nationalisation of the firm.

The mood of the protesters was defiant and angry, and the most popular chant summed up many people’s thoughts – “Nationalise City Link, put the bosses in the clink!”

RMT, Socialist Party activists, TUSC supporters and City Link workers from Coventry and across the country joined the demonstration, including a group from Scotland. One of them, Mick, worked at City Link with his son and daughter – all 3 now face being made redundant.

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TUSC supporting City Link workers

“Management spoke to us two weeks before Christmas and said everything was fine and the rumours about the business were untrue.” he said. “Then they wished us a happy Christmas and New Year. They just kept lying to us.”

When asked what he thought City Link workers should do now, his answer was clear; “Fight. What else can we do? Either we fight, or we lay down and die.”

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Nuneaton RMT Branch Secretary and Socialist Party member Paul Reilly

Many workers are being told they won’t be paid for any of the overtime they worked in the weeks before Christmas – some were working 12-hour days, 7 days a week! Not only are these workers threatened with redundancy, their bosses are refusing to pay them!

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Coventry No 1. RMT Branch Secretary and Socialist Party member Lee Cooper

City Link should be nationalised immediately, and run under democratic workers control and management – with compensation only paid on the basis of proven need. The books should be opened and investigated by City Link workers and trade unions, to see where the money has gone.

The RMT has organised protests like this across the country – this is the start, not the end, of the fightback.

ROTHERHAM CITY LINK DEMO

Friday Jan 2nd, 3pm

Bradmarsh Way, Bradmarsh Business Park

Rotherham

S60 1BW

Firefighters take action in Coventry – pictures and report from Radford and Foleshill

Firefighters take action in Coventry – pictures and report from Radford and Foleshill

Picket line in Foleshill

Picket line in Foleshill

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) started industrial action at 6pm this evening, the beginning of 4 days of national  industrial action against attacks on their pensions, privatisation and in defence of one of the most vital of public services. Firefighters mounted strong and visible pickets with members of the Socialist Party and Socialist Students attending pickets at Radford and Foleshill fire stations to show our support. There is much public support for the FBU, as could be witnessed by the constant tooting of horns as cars passed the pickets.

Socialist Party and Communication Workers Union member Glen visited the Foleshill picket he said

Spent some time with the firefighters at Foleshill, as they continue strike action to save the service we take for granted. I thought I was up to speed on the issues of the dispute. I thought I had a good idea of how the cuts are affecting them and their ability to do their job safely. Which is to save our lives, while protecting their own. Well I had another think coming. It’s one thing reading about inadequate equipment, lack of breathing apps, privatisation, cuts to the pension etc. But to hear stories of people being saved in fires and accidents, only through the goodwill of the people in the service… While paying more in pension contributions, to work longer and get less. Well. All I’ll say is pop down to your local station. Have a chat and show that we support them. Because you never know when you’ll need them. Solidarity.

Here is a selection of pictures from the picket lines at Radford and Foleshill.

Radford picket

Radford picket

FBU flags in Foleshill

FBU flags in Foleshill

 

Members of Socialist Students from Coventry University show support

Members of Socialist Students from Coventry University show support

 

 

 

Privatisation threatens postal service

Privatisation threatens postal service

TUSC campaigner Rob McArdle

TUSC campaigner Rob McArdle

The following article was written by Rob McArdle who is a campaigner for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and the Socialist Party. He is also a member of the Communication Workers Union and stood for TUSC in Lower Stoke ward in the recent local elections. The article was published in the current issue of ‘The Socialist’ newspaper.

Privatisation threatens postal service

By Robert McArdle, CWU member, South Mids Postal (Coventry, in a personal capacity)

On the very week Royal Mail reported a 12% rise in operating profits to £671 million, the newly privatised company was complaining about ‘market competition’ from the likes of TNT.

It’s ironic that directors at Royal Mail recently toured the country seeking to convince workers that ‘external investment’ was the only way forward for Britain’s postal service.

As we have highlighted in the Socialist, privatising Royal Mail would be a big mistake for the public. And now, within months of its undervalued sell-off, the threat to the universal postal service is again on the agenda.

The daily delivery service to the 29 million homes and businesses is threatened because competitor companies like TNT cherry-pick end to end delivery in places like London and Liverpool.

The industry regulator Ofcom responded by saying: “We would expect Royal Mail to take appropriate steps to respond to the challenge posed by competition, including improving efficiency.” In reality this means increasing workloads and pressure on postal workers.

Jobs

The threat of reducing the six-day delivery service would have a significant impact on jobs and services within Royal Mail.

It could also be used by management as a weapon to try and force through inferior working conditions and also have an impact on future pay deals.

Over the next few years we will see the battle lines being drawn between a management driven by market profits and the CWU union, who will need to defend their members against vicious cost-cutting attacks.

The historic deal that has just been signed by the CWU and Royal Mail protecting jobs and conditions, will be tested over the next two years. Postal workers are right to be concerned about their future once the agreed pay deal comes to an end. Thousands of jobs were lost at BT after privatisation of the telecoms company and those remaining workers have seen their terms and conditions weaken due to the ‘partnership’ between management and the CWU.

The lesson for postal workers is clear – they need the union to fight to protect the gains made over the years. Royal Mail bosses will continue their race to the bottom as they seek to increase profits for shareholders but the CWU will need to stay alert to the dangers of ‘partnerships’. Workers’ ultimate power lies in the ability to withdraw their labour as a last resort.

The solution for Royal Mail’s difficulties is simple; take it back into public ownership. Then the postal service could be delivering a service based on public need not on private greed.

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.

Postal strike – no retreat from defending jobs and working conditions!

Postal strike called off for now

No retreat from defending jobs and working conditions!

Postal strike in Coventry

Postal strike in Coventry

The following article written by a CWU member in Coventry was carried in ‘The Socialist’ newspaper earlier this month in the aftermath of the postponement of the CWU strike. 

By a Coventry postal worker

Communication Workers Union (CWU) members are worried that their union was the first to blink as they stared into the eyes of the privatised Royal Mail bosses.

Having gained a resounding 78% ‘Yes’ vote for industrial action, members may have felt that they were being led up the garden path as the CWU ‘stood down’ from the planned 24-hour strike on 4 November.

While talks are complicated and on-going – calling off strike action could well play into the hands of the employer who will continue to drag out talks in the hope support for action will drop.

A ground-breaking deal that protects workers’ terms and conditions is worth fighting for but we know that goes against the ethos of a privatised Royal Mail, particularly in the worst capitalist crisis for 70 years.

An improved pay offer is likely to be offered and an agreement is expected before 13 November, as both the CWU and management clear their diaries for talks.

But workers are right to be concerned about their future terms and conditions. The big Royal Mail shareholders will try to call the shots in the years to come – with a race to the bottom.

Bosses want the CWU to sign up to a three-year no-strike agreement. This would be a serious mistake for the CWU even to contemplate this.

It would give management a free rein to pursue its agenda of increased workloads and savage budget cuts.

Instead of taking strike action on 4 November, CWU reps across Royal Mail and the Post Office attended a national briefing in London.

While this was an opportunity to fire up union reps, it was not as effective as the collective workforce taking industrial action.

Pulling back from strike action while a deal is not yet on the table presents a real danger that Royal Mail could undermine the strength of feeling within the union by delaying tactics.

The CWU has a strong mandate for taking strike action. To ensure that no further momentum is lost in this dispute there has to be a strict timetable for the talks with the threat of strike action if nothing productive has been gained.

CWU should meet all other unions currently in dispute to discuss mass coordinated strike action as a step towards a 24-hour general strike to stop the Tory-led austerity offensive.

In any case, if Labour had given a commitment to re-nationalise Royal Mail, the plug would have been pulled on the sell-off.

That inaction should prompt a debate within our union about our continued affiliation to Labour and the need for a new mass workers’ party based on the unions