Tuesday, June 27, 2006

CWU: postal workers to vote on strike

The industrial relations picture at privatisation-threatened Royal Mail has been fraught for some time, and now matters have come to a head:

‘Up to 136,000 postal workers are to be balloted on strike action after pay negotiations broke down.

‘The Communication Workers Union made the decision after it failed to reach an agreement with the Royal Mail. 'The union said the move followed the imposition of a 2.9% pay rise and the failure to reach a deal on plans to axe thousands of jobs.

‘The Royal Mail has controversial modernisation plans that include issuing workers with a 20% share in the company.

‘But unions fear that this could mean 40,000 of the organisation's 165,000 workers losing their jobs, with many other workers forced to work part-time.’

A long time ago I spent a few weeks working as a postie over Christmas. It’s hard work, especially when it’s raining, and pretty badly paid.

Small wonder that strikes - including unofficial local walkouts - are commonplace. But this fight will be on a much broader scale than that. It will be difficult to win, too, giving the rise of email and private sector postal services.

At the political level, it is likely to bring the issue of the CWU’s Labour Party affiliation to the forefront once more, especially given that Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton is a paid up Labour Party member and essentially a Blair appointee. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

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