The postmen & women who are being forced to defend their careers against a dishonest and rapacious management & government are to be applauded. What has become clear is the corporatist Neoliberals of New Labour and the bullying management have conspired to continue a backdoor process of privatisation despite public opposition and official denials. This coming strike will be a watershed moment that either successfully stalls their plans or leads to the destruction of a postal service that serves the British people rather than profits off them. What will be crucial in keeping the postal service in our hands will be the public’s support of the strikers, when the government and management see their ‘customer base’ reject their plans for exploitation it will create greater pressure for them to return and negotiate with the union.
Check out local CWU branches here. Show your support.
As Dave Semple says-
Now it is a fight, alea iacta est. The working class, and all socialists, labourites and everyone on the Left, should stand behind the posties. Turn up to their picket lines and wish them well. As one young pluck did, bring them homebaked goods. Donate some money to the strike fund. Attend solidarity group meetings. The bottom line is this; the posties are the men and women who deliver a service we all take advantage of.
If, in our own jobs, we know about mismanagement or the government neo-liberal ideology getting in the way of efficiency, if we’re sick of being lectured at and told things which are blatantly untrue, of being bullied and cajoled into overtime we’re not getting paid for, and we ever want the support of other workers, now is our time to shine.
PS. I think it is crucial to pass on information that gives the context to the strike action, psychologically there is a tendency for people to assume all is well until something different happens or there is a change, when the event occurs and it has negative effects for the observer they will, in the absence of knowledge and context, make a judgement that the party that is presented as causing the change is to be blamed. So when a strike occurs the corporate media have an easy job making people annoyed at the strikers because people have not had the ongoing situation within the industry reported in as prominent a way, they have not read of bullying management, false statements and fraudulent negotiating stances. This combined with the false notions of balance corporate news uses as a fig leaf excuse for giving undue emphasis to the views of the powerful makes the media aspect of a strike very difficult. Or short version- if someone moans about the strike do make them read this from the London Review of Books then point out people do not like striking, it is anxious and worrying experience that costs them money, they do so because management have committed such serious abuses against them and all other means of redress have failed. The blame lies with management and the government and particularly millionaire Baron Peter Mandelson, the striking posties are the heros coming to the rescue of our postal service.
Like many businesses, the Royal Mail has a pet name for its customers. The name is ‘Granny Smith’. It’s a deeply affectionate term. Granny Smith is everyone, but particularly every old lady who lives alone and for whom the mail service is a lifeline. When an old lady gives me a Christmas card with a fiver slipped in with it and writes, ‘Thank you for thinking of me every day,’ she means it. I might be the only person in the world who thinks about her every day, even if it’s only for long enough to read her name on an envelope and then put it through her letterbox. There is a tension between the Royal Mail as a profit-making business and the Royal Mail as a public service. For most of the Royal Mail management – who rarely, if ever, come across the public – it is the first. To the delivery officer – to me, and people like me, the postmen who bring the mail to your door – it is more than likely the second.
We had a meeting a while back at which all the proposed changes to the business were laid out. Changes in our hours and working practices. Changes to our priorities. Changes that have led to the current chaos. We were told that the emphasis these days should be on the corporate customer. It was what the corporations wanted that mattered. We were effectively being told that quality of service to the average customer was less important than satisfying the requirements of the big businesses.
Someone piped up in the middle of it. ‘What about Granny Smith?’ he said. He’s an old-fashioned sort of postman, the kind who cares about these things.
‘Granny Smith is not important,’ was the reply. ‘Granny Smith doesn’t matter any more.’
So now you know.