By A CWU Rep
ROYAL MAIL bosses using the courts to get our strike declared “unlawful” and force us into “mediation” is a dishonest delaying tactic designed to break the momentum of our massive 89 per cent vote for strike action.
Their cheek is unbelievable. They blanked the union through 18 months of talks, forcing us to ballot. Then they called for a no vote to “get the union back to negotiations”! Now they have turned around and claimed the 2014 Agenda For Growth agreement, struck at the time of privatisation, legally binds the union to weeks of external mediation. It’s no surprise that an unelected, anti-trade union judge took the side of a handful of millionaire shareholders over 130,000 postal workers.
This is a delaying tactic, pure and simple, tying our union up in negotiations, which, to quote Royal Mail, “we expect will take close to Christmas to be completed, and maybe longer”.
It was clear from the outset of the dispute that Royal Mail would use the Agreement to stall and undermine our momentum.
Terry Pullinger and Dave Ward say the pressure of the live ballot and possible Christmas strikes means that Royal Mail is still “staring down the barrel of a gun” and that “We can still take strike action if we need to.”
This should be the case unless the bosses cave in.
But there are worrying hints of further delays ahead. Outside the court Terry Pullinger tried to deflect attention from Royal Mail’s weakest point. “This strike was never just about Christmas, never just about the desire to take strike action, it’s about getting agreement, the right agreement… and whether that takes three months, six months or a year, this union will keep going…”
Fine. But fighting talk has to be backed up by action, including the threat of illegal action, if necessary or Royal Mail will continue stringing us along. We can’t let them use the courts to move the goalposts again and again, so the strike gets ever further away and our energy dissipates.
Maximum pressure comes from striking and escalating quickly, not dragging it out for months. We must make sure further injunctions don’t stop us. Royal Mail bosses have had 18 months to talk. Now it’s time to force concessions out of them by hitting them where it hurts – the shareholders who’ve been looting the company and lining their pockets with £500k a day.
Organise the rank and file
The cwu 13 October ‘Four Pillars’ bulletin rightly urges workers to “hold on to the anger and energy because industrial action could very well happen again”.
We had Royal Mail on the back foot before the injunction. Let’s use the next five weeks to ensure our hard work beating the anti-union laws’ strike threshold and building support for action is not wasted.
We don’t have to sit on our hands and see what comes out of secret mediation.
It’s time to put our campaign on a footing that can deliver the action we need to win:
- Regular meetings of local reps and members to build links across the different sections – delivery, distribution, processing, etc.
- Solidarity meetings, high street stalls and a big demonstration involving other unions and the Labour Party
- A national rank and file meeting could set out our red lines in the negotiations, debate the best strategy to win our demands, and organise a grassroots network to sustain the momentum and escalate the struggle if necessary.
Let’s face facts. Royal Mail, the Tories and the courts are determined to beat us.
Our union has run a good campaign to get the ballot out, but the only way we can be certain of winning our demands is to be willing – and organised – to act even if our leaders don’t.