Around 600 postalworkers and other trade unionists took part in a national demonstration called by the Communication Workers’ Union in Stoke on 19 January. Over a hundred CWU members at the Burslem office have been on strike since 18 December in support of twelve victimised colleagues suspended by Royal Mail management last September.
The background to this action is the CWU postal executive’s vote to call off national action over pay, pensions and jobs and leave discussions over new “flexible conditions” to local negotiations. This has left local managers attempting to push through new working arrangements, knowing they will be backed by national Royal Mail management.
More militant offices who resist will be most likely to be subjected to these attacks. The bosses know the CWU will only fight branch by branch, rather than with national action. This a point was made by the Burslem strikers who lobbied the recent meeting between CWU leaders and national Royal Mail management.
At the rally at the end of the demonstration — addressed by General Secretary Billy Hayes and Postal Deputy General Secretary S Dave Ward — the strikers and their reps made clear their determination to continue the strike until their colleagues are reinstated. They stressed the importance of maintaining the financial support they have received, and winning the planned ballot of the 1,500 postalworkers in other North Staffordshire CWU branches.
As they argue, without extending the action and putting further pressure on Royal Mail, the tremendous solidarity the strikers have shown, may become isolated and those who have been victimised will be forced to rely on lengthy employment tribunals where they can only win compensation, rather than reinstatement.