02/11/2009 - Towards a national all-out postal workers strike?

altPOSTAL WORKERS are to walk out again this coming week.  Friday 6 and Monday 9 November will see workers on the picket line after negotiations between the Communication Workers Union and Royal Mail chiefs failed to reach a deal.

This third wave of strikes will be the latest in a increasingly bitter fight.  The strikes represent a desperate attempt to defend the future of the postal service.  They are also being held in protest at Royal Mail bosses trying to implement modernisation without agreement and worries over pensions.

Late last month, on Thursday 22 all mail centre staff and network drivers - around 42,000 postal workers – went out for 24 hours.  And on Friday 23 October, delivery and collection staff - around 78,000 postal workers – went on strike.

This first national postal workers strike prevented 135 million letters and parcels from being delivered.  This was despite the attempts of management who brought in scab labour in a futile attempt to break the strike.

Postal workers then went out for a second time late last week - from Thursday 29  to Saturday 31 October.  Again, this three day rolling strike was solid.  Thousands of workers across Britain took to the picket line.  This time, the industrial action delayed 35 million items of mail.

At first it looked like the strikes were having an impact.  The first strike was such a resounding success, that Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier had called for direct talks with the unions.  However, these talks have failed. 

Solidarity understands that Royal Mail bosses are frustrating the workers by ‘walking away’ when a deal is nearly reached.  Therefore, three days of very intense negotiations have failed to produce a breakthrough.  Trade Unionists claim that the talks were ‘useful and productive’ but no agreement has been reached. 

Solidarity General Secretary, Patrick Harrington, has again come out in support of the workers.  Indeed, he believes that it might take more strikes to bring management to their senses:

“The workers seem determined enough to go all the way.  They should not back down until the future of the service is assured.  Issues like pay, conditions, moderisation and pensions should also be sorted out”.

Mr. Harrington also confirmed that Solidarity members and supporters – who also hold joint-membership of the CWU – have been keeping him updated with events.

“Many have been buoyed by the impact of the strikes.  They are very confident given the strength of the last two waves of strikes.  However, many workers are telling me that this whole thing should be brought to a head now.  They want to sort things out around the negotiating table”.

Mr. Harrington agreed with their views.  In fact he went a step further when he said that things might have to escalate even more to budge the government and the likes of Adam Crozier.
"Maybe the only way to bring the bosses to their senses would be a national all-out postal workers strike”.