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Will the CWU deliver?

In spite of the withdrawal of the Labour government’s plans to privatise the Royal Mail, postal workers’ campaign of strike action continues. In truth, postal workers consider privatisation has already happened, when the profitable parts of the business were hived off in the 2006 “liberalisation” exacerbating the problems the Royal Mail faces. The dispute is about “modernisation” – job cuts, attacks on pay, conditions and pensions – and the bullying which has passed for management in the Post for many years. CWU members believe that management are seeking to break the union.

Workers in London and Edinburgh struck on Friday 19th June, and elsewhere in Scotland on Saturday 20th. Management are not honouring the 2007 agreement on modernisation, in spite of record profits delivered by postal workers. Another rolling programme of strikes hit London on 8th-10th July, with delivery offices, distribution and logistics workers, and mail centres striking on consecutive days, as part of a longer programme. A national day of action was planned for Friday 17th July and other areas of Britain were seeking ballots on industrial action.

It is likely that the dispute will become national, with a real possibility that if the union leadership continue to avoid a confrontation with the government that unofficial national strike action will break out. There is also a feeling among the union’s members that its leadership has kept silent on MPs’ expenses and failed to support its members against the Labour government. However, the rank and file of the CWU has been far more militant than its leadership for decades now – Alan Johnson is a former General Secretary of the union – so we will watch developments with interest rather than expectation.

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