CWU strike ballot runs 3-17 March

The CWU strike ballot has landed, and Royal Mail bosses are blitzing us with propaganda about how they want to reach agreement with the union.  Their latest mailing – coming on top of a slew of slick social media videos, Colleague updates and Courier – has taken the spin to new laughable heights: “We value our relationship with the CWU” and want to reach an agreement, and how they “understand our colleagues’ loyalty to the CWU, and respect it.”

Some highly paid consultant has been hired to write all this and confuse people, but most posties will know this propaganda doesn’t contain a shred of truth. 

No Respect

If they respect us as CWU members, why was their response to an historic 97% vote in favour of strike action – a massive rejection of their plans – to go to court and get it blocked last November? They have told CWU negotiators that it doesn’t matter what the result is this time, they will find a reason to go to the courts to seek an injunction regardless, to try to stop us exercising our democratic right to withdraw our labour. So much for respect.

If they value their relationship to our union, why did they hire union-busting CEO Rico Back in 2018, and rip up the Four Pillars Agreement in 2019 – the CWU didn’t even hear about their alternative Journey 2024 five year plan until it was announced in the media last May!  

Then when the long-promised negotiations came in January this year, the first thing Royal Mail managers did was to announce executive action in scores of offices and that they would be proceeding with their plan, with or without the union. And they say they want an agreement…

Now the pressure of the ballot has forced them to make a pay offer. Typically, this was leaked in a video on a Friday night after “forgetting” to mention it in a meeting with the union! Few posties will be fooled by this desperate tactic, and even fewer after they read the small print: first we have to sign up to their plans, achieve massive cuts and jobs losses – and we might get a below-inflation pay rise.

Rico & Co. don’t want an agreement, they aim to impose their plans, and bust our union so they can sweep away agreements that protect our terms and conditions, as well as tens of thousands of jobs.

That’s why we need a massive yes vote, as the start of a determined battle to force them to retreat from their plans.  

And that’s why rank and file reps and activists in the delivery offices, mail centres, RDCs and Parcelforce depots are working all out to get a massive yes vote once again, with the gate meeting on Thursday 5 March as a start.

It’s important to do that – we can’t be complacent and need to make sure people don’t take a yes vote for granted, and that we achieve the 50% voting threshold that the Tory anti-union laws require. Royal Mail is calculating that by spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on propaganda it will make a few waver.  

But even with a 100% yes vote, there is almost zero chance that Rico’s hatchet men will negotiate –  it will take determined strike action to force them to drop these plans.

Looking ahead, mass meetings of postal workers can be organised during the ballot period, to discuss what form any action should take, how to build the strongest picket lines possible, how to buddy up strong offices with those less organised, and what the response should be in case another injunction succeeds. These meetings should elect strike committees of the best activists and reps from the offices to carry forward the action.

The CWU has run a strong campaign that has exposed Royal Mail bosses, fired up the members and made an irrefutable case for why this is “the fight of our lives”, and why we need to stand up and fight. But now the dynamo of the dispute needs to shift downwards to the grassroots of the union. We need to get organised from below, at the shopfloor and the local level, to keep the campaign solid and take any action necessary to win. It will be the rank and file who drive this strike to victory.

What we do now will determine whether we have jobs and a postal service in the future – vote yes and prepare for the fight of our lives.