Striking postal workers in London and Edinburgh have delivered a blow to bullying Royal Mail managers and their attempts to undermine the union by ramming through cost saving measures.
As well as shaking the bosses, the strength of the action will have sent a shiver down the spines of government ministers who are intent on handing a chunk of this vital public service to a private equity firm.
In London, where over 10,000 members of the CWU union were on strike, good sized pickets formed at even the smallest of delivery offices – including some of those where a significant number of workers had ignored previous strike calls. At larger offices and mail centres dozens of strikers gathered from 5am onwards.
Dave Morrison, a union rep at the Islington sorting office in north London, told Socialist Worker that the 40-strong picket there was the biggest he could remember and that the action should now be spread.
Royal Mail bosses are not just attacking us here in London, they are after every postal worker in Britain, he said. This fight needs to go national – and quickly.
Weve got to use the momentum weve gained to up the pressure on Royal Mail and Lord Mandelson, the man behind privatisation of the post.
Katie Dunnin, a union safety rep in west London, agreed. She told Socialist Worker that in her area – which includes 800 union members in post codes from W2 to W14 – only eight non-managers are working, and none are union members.
People realise what the Ôcost savings really mean. Its going to be job cuts, followed by pay cuts, and then heavier workloads for those that are left. Were not having it. Thats why weve got to spread the action by balloting other areas.
The strike was also strong in south London, where Royal Mail bosses have run a two-year long offensive against union reps. Mark Palfrey, a union divisional rep from south east London, told Socialist Worker that managements attempts at intimidation had backfired.
All the aggro weve had from the employers has come to nothing, he told Socialist Worker. By threatening legal action, theyve kept the Nine Elms mail centre out of the fight this time around.
But the re-ballot of members there starts next week and were going to win it by a big margin.
Reps and activists from across London told Socialist Worker that there is a real thirst for more action. Martin Walsh, one of the leaders of the unions London division, told Socialist Worker that new strike dates will be announced shortly.
He also said, unless privatisation plans are scrapped and the government forces Royal Mail to agree to further talks, there will be a ballot of CWU members in London on whether they wish to continue funding the Labour Party.
With scores of CWU branches across Britain – from Scotland to the south west of England – having either already balloted for strikes, or planning to do so in the near future, the likelihood of a national action is growing.
The combined power of postal workers has the power to deliver a knock out blow to bully-boy managers, their job-slashing savings programme and the weak but nasty government that stands behind them.