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'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

22 Apr 2018, 18:13

CHRIS WEBB tells Sam Tobin how the CWU’s member-led Four Pillars and Pay campaign won overwhelming support


https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/art ... ey-are-cwu
THE SUCCESS of the CWU Four Pillars and Pay campaign culminated in overwhelming support for a new deal for Royal Mail workers last month.

But the deal, which covered pay, pensions and working conditions, was built not just on the hard work and dedication of members but on a slick and members-led communications and social media strategy.

CWU head of communications Chris Webb tells the Star that the union’s Four Pillars campaign was “the perfect fusion of the best of the new” with “what we’ve always done well, which is get out and meet our members.”

He emphasised that, like all successful union campaigns, it involved getting into workplaces and empowering union members, saying: “We tried to make every member think that their vote is going to make a massive difference.

“Our members felt that they were the union and ultimately that’s what we want for them. Behind all of that, it’s very old school, it’s hard work. You can’t avoid it.”

But being able to boast of a 15,000-strong WhatsApp group and 25,000 Facebook followers allows it to spread a message quickly and effectively.

“We’ve run a real sort of standard bearer of a campaign with Four Pillars,” says Webb.

“During the campaign, on videos alone we had nine million views on Royal Mail-related videos during the dispute.”

One video in particular, Webb says, was a massive factor in the CWU maintaining momentum despite a setback at the High Court last October.

Royal Mail successfully obtained an injunction against strike action, but the CWU still managed to seize the initiative.

“I think we handled the High Court situation very well. We didn’t win on the day, but what we were able to do was set the narrative immediately after and I think that was vital,” says Webb.

He adds that Royal Mail “would have seen that as their opportunity to go back into the workplaces next day and say: ‘Your union’s lost’.”

But a live interview with general secretary Dave Ward and deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger on the High Court steps kept the CWU on the front foot.

“Both of them were really passionate, really went through how outrageous the decision was but also said to members this is far from over and, with your support, we are going to deliver a good agreement — and that was viewed over a quarter of a million times.”

Webb also points out that, counter-intuitively, unions have something of an advantage over large companies or institutions like Royal Mail.

He spotlights “the new tools that are available to us that perhaps aren’t available to employers” that may have a huge communications team, “but they can’t compete with us on the ground and on social media because they can’t be as edgy. They can’t be as forthright or as humorous.”

Just as importantly, local branches and individual members got heavily involved in the social media campaign, says Webb, adding that “some of the best content during the Royal Mail dispute came from our branches and our members.”

Looking forward, he is confident the strategy will continue to be successful, starting with the TUC New Deal for Workers march on May 12.

“We think it applies well [to other campaigns] because, prior to the Royal Mail ballot, we had the general election and we used the same tactics on a lower scale to engage our members to vote for a Labour government,” says Webb.

“Going forward it’s about the TUC march on May 12, it’s about Labour conference, the TUC conference. It’s about actually playing our role in changing society.

“We’ve been significantly promoting the 12th, so we’re mobilising. All the initiatives have gone through the Royal Mail [Four Pillars model].”

Chris Webb is the CWU head of communications. Sam Tobin is a reporter for the Morning Star.

SAM TOBINMONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 Interview 'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

22 Apr 2018, 19:43

sorry cancelled my union subs

SAM TOBINMONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 Interview 'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 05:37

loverman shabba wrote:sorry cancelled my union subs


Shame on you

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 06:23

What deal?

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 11:28

The members ARE the CWU.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 12:43

I am afraid i have cancelled my union subs as well,never felt so let down by the cwu as i do now,
I think its time to bite the bullet and find another job which is a shame as i have always loved the job.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 15:04

Just announced that the CWU are to affiliate with Momentum.
WTF !!

That's my subs gone now as well.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 15:30

enskied wrote:Just announced that the CWU are to affiliate with Momentum.
WTF !!

That's my subs gone now as well.


Why.

Unless you pay into the Political fund - which is optional - you personally won't be supporting Momentum.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 16:56

Support of Momentum is the only way the privatisation escapades of the last two decades can ever be reversed. They hold a deal of influence now in the Labour Party to get it to do what it should have been doing all along and wasn't, fighting for working people and a fairer society. I don't agree with all the union have done in recent times, but throwing their weight behind this group is a positive step for CWU members.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 17:47

I suppose they have to slap their own backs - no one else is likely to do it. Privatisation as well as PFI are both widely acknowledged as being a complete failure in this country. All the political parties are a complete joke to be brutally honest. The CWU need to concentrate on their own job and attempt to make a decent job of it. At the moment they have us staggering on the edge of a cliff. If the RM can drop our obligation to deliver DSA mail as a result of leaving the EU debackle we will be on a much better footing. It isn't the CWUs job to intervene in party politics and renationalisation might not fix the situation we are in.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 18:03

Celgar wrote:I suppose they have to slap their own backs - no one else is likely to do it. Privatisation as well as PFI are both widely acknowledged as being a complete failure in this country. All the political parties are a complete joke to be brutally honest. The CWU need to concentrate on their own job and attempt to make a decent job of it. At the moment they have us staggering on the edge of a cliff. If the RM can drop our obligation to deliver DSA mail as a result of leaving the EU debackle we will be on a much better footing. It isn't the CWUs job to intervene in party politics and renationalisation might not fix the situation we are in.


If Unions did not "interfere" in Party Politics then the Labour Party wouldn't exist in the form it does now. Unions helped create the Labour Party so, in my opinion, they should take part in political debates on our behalf. Hence why they have a conference to decide democratically, among other things, where the Union should lend support and where they should bring pressure on issues of the day.

In my opinion, Brexit won't have any impact on DSA unless we do renationalise. For Brexit to have any effect they would have to Change the various Postal Acts which allow headroom for our competitors and to do that the would have to abide by various acts on Monopolies. I humbly submit that without renationalisation getting rid of DSA, staying within the current laws and changing/revoking the various Postal acts is a Gordian knot which won't be tackled due to the more pressing problems caused our society currently faces.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 18:30

All the CWU need to concentrate on is what its members want - not what they want.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 18:34

postslippete wrote:All the CWU need to concentrate on is what its members want - not what they want.


That's what conference is for - so the members via their reps can tell the Union what they want.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 19:08

Royal mail, have a Have your say, yearly where you tick boxes and can leave a comment. Maybe an idea for the union to do likewise and that way they can see what we really want and what issues need to be addressed.

'Our members feel that they are the CWU'

23 Apr 2018, 19:24

TrueBlueTerrier wrote:
postslippete wrote:All the CWU need to concentrate on is what its members want - not what they want.


That's what conference is for - so the members via their reps can tell the Union what they want.


You're assuming the reps listen to the members.
I've been to conference, there's a lot of backslapping, a great deal of childish jostling for position, an incredible amount of agenda pushing by branches and divisions and an overall feeling of "we know best" by the great and the good but how much if any is connected to the daily grind of being a postie?

In the words of Paul Daniels....not a lot.

Hanging our hat on a dream of renationalisation is in my opinion counterproductive, the only difference between a private RM and a public RM was the final destination of the profits and since most of it ended up in the hands of the rich either way it's not likely to improve our lot one bit. We would be better off unaffiliated and supporting MPs of any persuasion that will support us back. No single party is ever likely to have a massive majority again and that's what you would need to implement any kind of program of renationalisation.

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