Coventry postal worker responds to closure of Royal Mail pension scheme

Coventry postal worker responds to closure of Royal Mail pension scheme

Striking postal workers in Coventry

Royal Mail have announced plans to close the current Defined Benefit pension scheme in March 2018. The following response was written by a postal worker and Communication Workers Union (CWU) member in Coventry.

Their plan is to put members into an inferior alternative, with no certainty of what members would earn – workers could lose up to a third of their future pensions.
The consultation with the CWU and postal workers have been swept aside as Royal Mail seems determined to undermine terms and conditions, pay and pensions since privatisation in October 2013.

The CWU have rightly spoken out condemning the possible imposition of these pension changes without agreement, but words need to be turned into action very quickly or postal workers like me will stand to face a future of poverty in retirement.

Royal Mail claim they cannot afford to keep paying the current pension, even though it has found £650m to pay shareholders dividends over the last three years.

For workers like me, retirement is fast becoming an elusive dream as the Tory government move the retirement age higher and higher. What chance have I got to live out the rest of my years with some kind of comfort if the government and my employer ‘robs’ the very pension I have worked for?

Royal Mail have not listened to the thousands who voiced their concerns during the consultation and so the CWU need to gather the workforce behind an all-out battle to defend our rights for a decent pension.

It is pretty clear that Royal Mail have no intention of changing their objective of rewarding shareholders while punishing the workforce, so only a clear call to strike action is the only course of action that will get Royal Mail to change course.

Working class families have been paying the price since the banking crisis of 2007/08 and we are all living with the effects of cuts to services every day.

The need for co-ordinated action across all unions against the attack on our pensions and pay is stronger than ever – we have had enough of seeing the top 1% getting richer from hammering us into the ground.

Fire-fighters rally in Birmingham

Fire-fighters rally in Birmingham

Dave Nellist addresses the FBU rally

Dave Nellist addresses the FBU rally

With just 5 days work, about 150 fire-fighters and their families attended a lunchtime rally on Saturday, June 21 in Victoria Square, Birmingham as part of their campaign against government imposed changes to pensions. Firefighters from Coventry travelled to Birmingham to join their colleagues.

The Tory led coalition is seeking to take the best part of £4000 a year from the wages of fire-fighters in compulsory increases to pension contributions, whilst at the same time raising their retirement age from 55 to 60. If you were at the top of a burning building who would you prefer coming up the ladder to rescue you – a 30-year-old or a 60-year-old?

Many fire-fighters in the audience supported the need for escalation of their action, and in particular welcomed the idea of the FBU joining the action on July 10th currently being balloted for by NUT, Unison, Unite, GMB and PCS.

Pictured is Dave Nellist, national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition who was invited by the regional FBU to be one of the main speakers at the rally.  The solidarity leaflet that Socialist Party members delivered to fire station picket lines around the country on Saturday can be viewed by visiting this link

 

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

 

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

Report and pictures from university strike action at Coventry and Warwick

Report and pictures from university strike action at Coventry and Warwick 

Picket at University of Warwick

Picket at University of Warwick

Today industrial took place at Higher Education institutions across the country involving members of UCU, Unison and Unite. There were pickets at both Coventry University and the University of Warwick. Members of the Socialist Party visited the picket lines to show support, whilst Socialist Student groups at both universities, together with Socialist Party youth members worked hard to build links between students and university workers on the day and beforehand.

Report from University of Warwick

By M Best

Socialist Students at Warwick build support

Socialist Students at Warwick build support

The mood was clear at the picket at Warwick today, there is a drastic need to take action to defend peoples jobs. The issue of a pay cut was just as important for lecturers and staff becoming increasingly unsure of whether they will get enough work during the quiet periods such as the summer. The issue of people on zero hour contracts and increased casualisation were also mentioned. The idea of a general strike, getting everyone out together, to face the attacks which are the same in every industry struck a chord with the workers.

One picketer told me
“It’s sad that the university can’t support its staff the way the staff supports it. People say if you can’t pay for the best then you won’t get the best, so we can’t be the best. If an employer said to you would you take a job that in 4 years we’ll pay you 14% less you wouldn’t take it. A lot of people can’t afford these cuts. There are people having to choose between heating and eating. And we’re having staff at a top university have to make that decision. Its those lowest paid workers at the bottom who can’t afford the pay cuts.”

Report from Coventry University

Picket near the Alan Berry Building at Coventry University

Picket near the Alan Berry Building at Coventry University

There were a number of pickets across the campus of Coventry University, as union members gave out leaflets to students explaining why there were going on strike. Members of Unison from the Coventry District (council) branch attended to show support. Socialist Students members joined the picket to bring solidarity from students.

Members of Socialist Students / SP youth members

Members of Socialist Students / SP youth members

The question of unions from different sectors co-ordinating their many disputes came up time and time again. The need for co-ordination action is not just a good idea, it is a burning necessity which would raise the collective confidence of all workers in the fight against capitalist austerity measures.

One of the leaflets that was distributed

One of the leaflets that was distributed

Socialist Party members in the education unions, together with Socialist Students across the campuses, will continue to argue for worker – student solidarity. This is not just a fight for terms and conditions, but a battle to defend education.

If you want to help us, or to join / get more info about the fight for socialism, fill in the form below and we will contact you

 

 

Firefighters take strike action – report from Coventry picket line

Firefighters take strike action – report from Coventry picket line

On the picket line at Radford

On the picket line at Radford

FBU members took strike action today against attacks on their pensions. Across the country firefighters walked out between 12-4pm, including here in Coventry.

Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party reported from the picket line

‘There was a very determined mood amongst FBU members today. They’re been told to pay even higher pension contributions and to work longer. The Tories have told younger firefighters I met on the picket line that they have to work 40 years now for a full pension compared to existing staff’s 30 years. Firefighters will now have to work to 60 (would you want a 60 year old having to climb up a burning building to rescue you?).

Oh, and the head of the West Midlands Fire Service retires (from a desk job!) in November. He’s 53 years old!’

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