Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Support the Post Strikes

We should all do what we can to support the national post strike due to take place later this week.

Just as with the firefighters' dispute seven years ago (yeah I know, doesn't seem that long, does it?), the employers are banging on about the need for "modernisation", a term which sounds like an inarguably good thing, but actually means whatever the people advocating it want it to mean. In this case, it means "attacking jobs and working conditions", just as it did with the firefighters.

The "modernisation" propaganda is supplemented by a dollop of cant about "Spanish practices". I've no idea what the Spanish have done to deserve this particular term, but you will notice that the employer's side has very little to offer up in the way of specific examples of the allegedly bad practices. The only one I have seen specified is that you can go home when you've finished your work. Blimey, what a terrible thing. Obviously, people should sit around the sorting office doing nothing instead. Or perhaps they should just walk more slowly when out delivering.

Neither can we fall for Mandelson's line that the strike is "suicidal" because it will damage the Royal Mail as a business. Follow that argument and pretty much no workers would ever go on strike, and we would all be powerless to defend ourselves against the employers' attacks.

Mind you, threats by clients, especially big ones, to take their business elsewhere are an issue for strike strategy. Those threats would be seriously undermined if workers in the alternative distribution companies refused to handle post which should go out by Royal Mail. There is a tradition of such solidarity, for example when posties refused to handle scab post from Grunwick in one of the most important disputes of the 1970s. I don't know in detail which of these companies are unionised and if so, by which union - but, as one exmaple, Initial CityLink workers are in RMT.

With Royal Mail planning to take on 30,000 casuals to help break the strike, people who support the CWU's fight can help out here too. Student unions should oppose recruitment campaigns around colleges. JobCentre and benefits workers should refuse to promote scab jobs or to coerce unemployed people into taking them under threat of losing benefits.

But first off - everyone to the picket lines on Thursday morning!

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