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UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 09:37

By Thomas Scripps

21 March 2020

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) decision to ignore an overwhelming strike vote by its membership and instead offer workers up as “an additional emergency service” during the COVID-19 pandemic has met with widespread opposition.
On Tuesday, the CWU announced a vote of 94.5 percent in favour of strike action, on a turnout of 63.4 percent of their 111,000 members in Royal Mail. This was immediately followed by a statement suspending any industrial action and offering to “set aside our differences” with management in “the interests of the nation.” In return, the union politely asked the employers to end their vicious attacks on the workforce for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

While there is no way to determine the majority position among CWU members, the announcement has received considerable criticism on online forums. There is a widespread recognition that no goodwill will be forthcoming from Royal Mail. The company are engaged in a five-year restructuring plan under new CEO Rico Back to reassure nervous shareholders that profits and dividends, extracted from the workers, will continue to flow. In this context, several CWU members commented that the union’s decision must be a cause for celebration at company headquarters—“I bet they can’t believe their luck,” one said.

“Royal Mail Management will indeed pick up your proposal and be rubbing their hands at the prospect of them having more time unopposed to drive their change through. Coronavirus means nothing to them it’s profit, profit, profit and shareholders first and last.”

Others wrote: “RM [Royal Mail] will not honour a period of calm, they will push on regardless” and “the push for more cost cutting will be relentless.” “Management will use [the CWU proposal] to accelerate Executive Action.”
And more: “There is no way Royal Mail will halt its strategy, they will just plough on as they know f-all will happen.” “Of course they’re going to continue they are all about money and that’s it I can’t believe how naive the union are being by thinking the Royal Mail will give a truce NO CHANCE!”

Given Royal Mail’s ruthless drive for profits, many have argued that the only option was to take industrial action: “If we don’t strike Royal Mail will take full advantage and follow through on their plans to streamline the business and cut thousands of jobs. We must fight.” “Royal Mail will carry on doing the same thing they been doing and so we should carry on and strike.”

“If RM are pressing ahead with Executive Action, then we should press ahead with Industrial Action ... If the company cannot call a truce, then why should we be put at a disadvantage?”
“If we don’t take [industrial action] this time we’re f****d, coronavirus nothing to do with our ballot or actions from it we are still working after all.”

Royal Mail workers have seen national strike action cancelled repeatedly, with no reference to the wishes of the membership. Several comments on online forums pointed to the arbitrary and unaccountable way in which the union’s “emergency service” proposal was made, striking a deal between the union bureaucracy, the employers and the government:

“Why hasn’t the CWU spoken to its members in Royal Mail before offering up the people who work on the frontline as an emergency service, we have family’s and our own health issues as well. Most of us would help as best we can, but it would be nice to actually be asked rather then offered up like some commodity.”

“So do we get a vote or choice in the decision of us the members being put forward as another emergency service?”

Proposals for an emergency service are wholly unrealistic without placing an impossible additional strain on an already overstretched workforce. Workers told the CWU, “You can’t ask us to do any more than what we do already.” One explained, “Most walks in our office are to the max time limits, not much time left for social helping …” Another asked, “How are we meant to provide this when many of our work force would be in the high risk category and will be advised to take 12 weeks off work? A strategy needs to be in place. Will our members in the high risk get their wages for the 12 weeks?”

One worker made the point that the CWU have lined up with the government against their own members: “But you’re not fighting for the customers or politicians, we voted for our terms to be upheld ... We are a postal service not an emergency service ...”

The union’s claim that its pledge to work with the employers is out of concern for the health risks of coronavirus is refuted by the working conditions it has accepted for Royal Mail workers. As one commenter warned: “If PPE [personal protective equipment] and basic hygiene is not taken seriously, the new emergency service will be distributing the virus as well as food bank parcels ...”

Like corporations across the world, Royal Mail is indifferent to the health of its workforce. “They can pay millions to a CEO but can’t provide hand wash and sanitizer,” wrote one worker. “Bexleyheath office have no gloves, no hand sanitizers and two people have the symptoms in our office, yet we are still in and office has not been deep cleaned.” And: “Only water to wash my hands in my office now, if no soap or hand sanitizer tomorrow morning and I’m walking out, will CWU back me?”
Some have drawn important lessons from this episode about the motivations of the union bureaucracy:
“So while Royal Mail continue their executive action in their relentless assault on our terms and conditions, our union leaders in their ivory towers nowhere near the front line put us up to be another emergency service.”
“Shame on the CWU, shame on you, if we contaminate just one person and god help it something happens to them because you want to put us as an emergency service them shame on you ... not that you lot will be bothered because as long as you look good that’s all that matters hey, hope you lot can sleep well with your nice big fat pay cheques.”

Even among Royal Mail workers sympathetic to the idea of suspending industrial action in the face of an unfolding global disaster, there is an insistence that Royal Mail Group must cease its attacks on jobs and conditions.
Two workers commented on social media: “Don’t have a problem in the present climate to hold back on any industrial action as long as the company stops its executive action,” and “If it’s decided that we the union are not striking at this time despite a yes vote for the rights reasons then the business must agree to stop the ongoing stripping of rights and conditions.”

Another said: “If executive action continued, no matter what else is happening, you have to follow through with what we voted for.” The crucial task now for Royal Mail workers is to draw the political conclusions from these events. The CWU are on the side of the employers. If attacks on jobs and conditions are to be fought, then this must be done independently of the bureaucracy through rank-and-file organisations of the workers themselves.

This is also the only basis on which a serious global response can be mounted to the coronavirus pandemic. We urge workers to read and discuss the article “Union calls off UK Royal Mail strike citing national interest during coronavirus pandemic” and to contact the WSWS to begin organising a fight for this perspective.
Last edited by merson01 on 21 Mar 2020, 20:05, edited 1 time in total.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 09:51

This (POSTMAN EDIT) obviously realised that his article a couple of days ago was so full of s**t that he’s had another ago and come up with an equally large dose of crap. Tell you what mate..... give up trying to be a second rate s**t stirring journo and do something worthwhile during these times.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 09:53

Thank you for your wonderful words of wisdom but you don't say what you would do about the serious situation postal workers find themselves in.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 10:10

And this is why you should be careful about what you post on forums.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 10:58

Thomas Scripps is standing in the Holborn & St. Pancras constituency in London. Scripps, 24, is a graduate with a Masters Degree in Modern History. A socialist since the age of 15, he joined the Socialist Equality Party in 2011. He is a leading member of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality and a regular writer for the World Socialist Web Site.


Go easy on the boy.
I had some daft ideas when I was a kid as well.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 11:07

Rather than giving us the old Citizen Smith 'power to the people' nonsense why don't these so called friends of the working class start writing about the genuine abuses of Royal Mail procedure, Health and Safety, NHS and government guidelines that are documented all over these forums.

Do you actually want to help the working classes or just start a revolution in your bedroom?

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 12:23

Nice rant Thomas and true but do You have a solution for us?

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 17:53

Thomas, you need to grow up and realise that is 2020, not 1917. All your up the revolution bxxxxxks might go down well in some Student Union meeting, but in the real world, going out on strike when so many workers face a long period with no pay or losing their jobs because of the virus, would be a huge PR disaster to say the least

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

21 Mar 2020, 18:58

What a load of complete shite! Who is this Thomas scripps? I don't doubt for one second posties are at the moment walking their arses off but think ahead in a few weeks when nobody is posting anything my collections this week was next to nothing so I'm thinking we may need things to keep us working? :hmmmm

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

22 Mar 2020, 21:52

Im a bit pissed that once again the union had not asked first.Have not got a prob with helping out in these times.I can see us being busy especailly with packets.Both RM and union put everything on stop and just get on with things.Maybe put a freezze on any actions until the worst is over.Just do your bit and any managers do the old bully tactics,just get in touch with local paper,im sure theyand public would b intrested on how KEY WORKERS r being treated!

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

23 Mar 2020, 12:39

I would like to comment on some the responses to the last two articles posted on this forum-UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout, and London postal workers take strike action over coronavirus concerns.

1st Comment.

"This bellend obviously realised that his article a couple of days ago was so full of s**t that he's had another ago and come up with an equally large dose of crap. Tell you what mate..... give up trying to be a second rate s**t stirring journo and do something worthwhile during these times".

I have no problem with this person opposing the political content of the articles. I will not tolerate this intimidating personal abuse of the writer. The language used is offensive, and if continued, I will report it.

The comment "second rate s**t stirring journo" .is just as insulting. The journalism from the WSWS.Org is of a very high standard as is the political level of the articles. If this person has a political disagreement, then they should say it. Both articles contain measures that postal workers should take during this difficult time. See also article How to fight the COVID-19 pandemic: A program of action for the working class-17 March 2020- https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/0 ... s-m17.html

2nd Comment

Rather than giving us the old Citizen Smith 'power to the people' nonsense why don't these so-called friends of the working class start writing about the genuine abuses of Royal Mail procedure, Health and Safety, NHS and government guidelines that are documented all over these forums. Do you actually want to help the working classes or just start a revolution in your bedroom?

Does this person not read the articles properly- In one article we say "Strike action would be the basis for demanding safe working conditions and precautions against the spread of the virus, not just in Royal Mail but for the whole working class. Walkouts in recent days by Royal Mail workers in London, outsourced workers in the NHS and other workers in Italy, Canada and the United States demonstrate the desire for a fight over corporations' and governments' refusal to put in place basic safety measures. In contrast, the CWU wants to work as an "emergency service" for a Tory government that has already declared its intention to ban strike action in all essential services.

As for the silly quip "Do you actually want to help the working classes or just start a revolution in your bedroom? Well in order to help the working class, we suggest it gets rid of its bureaucratic leadership the CWU and develop rank and file committees and place the struggle in their own hands.

3rd Comment.

"What a load of complete shite! Who is this Thomas scripps? I don't doubt for one second posties are at the moment walking their arses off but think ahead in a few weeks when nobody is posting anything my collections this week was next to nothing so I'm thinking we may need things to keep us working?"

It is true postal workers are being forced to "work their arse off" because the CWU has offered without consultation to act as the fifth emergency service all done in the national interest. Other workers in the UK and abroad are walking off the job in protection of their jobs and health postal workers should do the same.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

23 Mar 2020, 13:00

Don't post opinion pieces merson if you can't accept opposing opinions.

The problem with the articles in particular and the WSWS in general is that its real target is always the union not the employer.

We get the ideology of The Fourth International and there are very few CWU fan boys on here but let's not pretend that either piece is about helping Royal Mail staff. It's about promoting a much larger Marxist agenda.

Coronavirus and our plight is just another opportunity. Pretending otherwise is dishonest.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

23 Mar 2020, 13:41

In Reply to Woody Guthrie

Who writes "Don't post opinion pieces Merson if you cannot accept opposing opinions. The problem with the articles in particular and the WSWS, in general, is that its real target is always the union, not the employer.
We get the ideology of The Fourth International, and there are very few CWU fanboys on here but let us not pretend that either piece is about helping Royal Mail staff. It is about promoting a much larger Marxist agenda. Coronavirus and our plight is just another opportunity. Pretending otherwise is dishonest.

Your first point is nonsensical. I have made it abundantly clear that people can express an opinion that is opposed to the WSWS. If they want to defend the actions of the union that is up to them. But we have the right to criticise the union and the Royal Mail because they are at the moment indistinguishable.

It is clear from the Royalmailchat website that a growing section of workers are not entirely happy with the CWU the article-UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout is made up almost entirely from quotes from workers on the website. The last 6 articles posted on the site have had over ten thousand views.

As for “ promoting a much larger Marxist agenda. Coronavirus and our plight is just another opportunity. Pretending otherwise is dishonest. The wsws makes no bones about its politics or its agenda unlike a number of people on this website that hide their political persuasion.

As for the charge “Coronavirus and our plight is just another opportunity. Pretending otherwise is dishonest.” This is a disgusting thing to say. The website is made up of journalists who come into contact with people with the virus and have family members with the virus.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

23 Mar 2020, 16:59

Edited the name-calling re bellend.

Debate, don't lower yourselves.

Thanks

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

23 Mar 2020, 17:02

Much appreciated

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

23 Mar 2020, 17:02

So what you’re saying Merson01 is that your opinion is the only one allowed because it’s the correct one. Oh well you go along through life in your own merry way believing that.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

23 Mar 2020, 18:50

You do not seem to be getting what I am saying. Everyone has the right to an opinion including me and the WSWS. You are free to choose whatever opinion suits your politics. I cannot make it any clearer. Lastly, you say nothing on the abuse writers of the wsws.org have received on this site. At no stage have they abused others in the manner of the abuse directed against them.

UK Royal Mail workers oppose union citing coronavirus to justify strike vote sellout

23 Mar 2020, 20:56

merson01 wrote:You do not seem to be getting what I am saying. Everyone has the right to an opinion including me and the WSWS. You are free to choose whatever opinion suits your politics. I cannot make it any clearer. Lastly, you say nothing on the abuse writers of the wsws.org have received on this site. At no stage have they abused others in the manner of the abuse directed against them.

If people wanted to read the nonsense written by that Scripps bloke then I'm sure that they would flock to that wsws site (whatever that is). Anyone older than 15 simply won't bother with this childish nonsense.

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