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The Vote

Is the Communication Workers Union to blame for the postal strike?

Published on October 29th 2009.

The Vote
Yes: - 47%
No: - 53%

The damned postal strike.

But who is to blame?

THE Communication Workers Union's (CWU) who’ve called the two-day strike starting today can sniff a conspiracy.

The union's deputy general secretary, Dave Ward, said the Government and senior Royal Mail management were working together to stop an agreement being reached. "The real truth behind this dispute is that Lord Mandelson in cahoots with people running the company clearly feel it is payback time because we defeated them on their proposals on privatisation."

Meanwhile Billy Hayes, the union's general secretary, is reported as calling Mandelson "the minister without responsibility" who "wants to wash his hands of this dispute".

Most people will probably have forgotten what the strike is about. So here it is. It’s about new working practices, about new sorting machines, about possible redundancies, about ‘modernisation’. For the union and its 130,000 members it’s about not being consulted on these issues.

According to a press release from 50 prominent socialist thinkers, which included Labour MPs, the Government has been "sulking on the sidelines because they couldn't get their part-privatisation through and have now washed their hands of the whole thing. The Post Office is an essential, publicly owned utility and it is the Government's duty to ensure it is run well."

Back to Ward who maintains the union is prepared to compromise over new sorting machines. "We know we can't stop the machines coming," he said. But his union feels it has a right to be consulted over changes of work practice and modernisation.

Meanwhile the Royal Mail management, led by chief executive Adam Crozier, seeks to run the business as it sees fit. It sees the modernisation of practices and procedures as inevitable, even crucial to the survival of the service. An attempt to privatise the service this time around has been denied. Some would argue that, as management, can we really fault them for wanting to run the service their way?

But many post workers feel they have little to lose by striking strikes as many feel they may well be about to lose their jobs anyway. Or that the new conditions will be so poor on their relatively poor wages as to make them leave Royal Mail.

At the same time, contracts are bleeding away from the service as it gains a reputation for unreliability. The Scottish Government awarded a £17m contract for second class mail to TNT on Wednesday; one of many big customers to have recently deserted the service.

What is certain is that people and businesses who depend on the post are in for a bleak episode as the backlog builds and delays in delivery become longer.

So what do you think? Is this the last manoeuvring of a dinosaur union? Are the CWU fighting to prevent the untimely death of Royal Mail? Is the management right to seek to run the service as they see fit? And why haven't the posties got a right to be consulted on their future? Vote on the homepage.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Ronnie de RamperOctober 22nd 2009.

Try asking the right question, not this loaded one. Ask instead: "Do we wish to retain a trusted and reliable public postal service?" That's all the postie's want to provide. That's what their strike is all about. We should support them without a second thought.

ADOctober 22nd 2009.

The CWU are more than a little out of touch, with so many private sector employees finding themselves out of work over the last year why should the general public have sympathy for a bunch of people looking to preserve their pay, pensions and comfortable conditions at everyone elses expense.

SeanOctober 22nd 2009.

It's a hard world out there and postal workers NEVER do anything to help themselves with this sort of action. The postal service is NOT trusted and reliable when its workers let their customers down like this!!

Postie HastieOctober 22nd 2009.

AD, the postal workers have no pensions, or rather owing to Management mismanagement there is a £10 billion shortfall in the pension fund.Yet Crozier the boss is paid £3 million a year. This might be all right in the shambles of the private sector, but this is supposed to be an accountable public body.

G. P. O'NostalgistOctober 22nd 2009.

Also it was the bosses of the Royal Mail who stopped us getting the first delivery of post before we went out to work in the mornings, not the union.It was the bosses, you might remember who wasted millions changing the name of the Royal Mail to 'Consignia' and then back again a month or two later when everyone laughed at them.

Oxton OswaldOctober 22nd 2009.

It was the bosses of the Royal Mail who changed all Wirral postcodes from 'L' to 'CH' so now our post is stolen in Chester rather than sorted reliably in Liverpool.

Royle MaleOctober 22nd 2009.

AD "comfortable conditions"? We are talking about postmen here, hugging heavy bags about in all weathers, being bitten by dogs, made to wear shorts as part of the latest, hideous uniform, starting work in the early hours of the morning when others are still in nightclubs. Postmen aren't estate agents, insurance salesmen or media types. Postmen do REAL work for their pittance.

current postieOctober 22nd 2009.

royal mail is a complete mess. some full time posties work hard & earn the money they get. some just take the piss. part-timers, which is anyone taken on in the last few years, get screwed - the hardest walks, no help getting bags out, etc. the local management either bully you or make promises they have no intention of keeping. the sorting office in the morning is worse than school playground - bullying & bigoted abuse the plat du jour - tous les jours. middle management have no idea, the top brass... crozier - fur fox ache. £2bn from HM for modernisation, £1bn spent - no sign of any changes. Plus mealy mouthed posturing from the minister involved, one of the biggest weasels ever involved in govt. no sign of upholding labour principles or the universal service obligation. letting european post cos into our market & not doing vice versa, downstream access being forced on them at less than cost price & laughingly calling it the "final mile" when its from town to eg burscough. mandelson is a complete no mark clown, who could do pr spin (lying, it used to be called) but no proper job. no wonder - let someone with half a brain sort it out ! (ps off next week, nowt better 2 do)

Kronstadt1921October 22nd 2009.

Just because there's a recession on and people are unemployed doesn't mean that groups of workers shouldn't fight to protect their industries and oppose the greed-driven agendas of the management. That's just a pathetic recipe for letting the bosses walk all over us. Good luck and solidarity to the posties.

Telegram SamOctober 22nd 2009.

When an organisation is in crisis then senior managers have to reapply for their own jobs so the interview panel can sort the wheat from the chaff.Why not at Royal Mail? Get in some people who CAN manage what is an essential public service and run it to the traditional standard to which the British Public were accustomed until overpaid oafs at the top buggered it up a few years ago.

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