John McDonnell’s Letter To The Guardian Re: RMT Ballot

The media treatment of RMT and Bob Crow over the last 48 hours over the Network Rail strike ballot has been the worst example of a concerted campaign of media bias against a trade union that we have seen since the 1980s miners’ strike. John Humphrys’s interview of Bob Crow, with his references to ballot-rigging, and the BBC’s subsequent headline of “RMT’s Bob Crow denies ballot rigging”, was that disgusting classic of the old hack lawyer’s tactic of asking the defendant: “When did you stop beating your wife?”

Even the Guardian’s editorial (2 March) ignorantly weighed in with “No union that conducts its ballots properly according to the reasonable requirements of the law … would be in danger of being injuncted.” This reference to “reasonable requirements of the law” is patent rubbish. To hold a ballot the union must construct and supply the employer with a detailed and complex matrix of information setting out which members it is balloting, their job titles, grades, departments and work locations. The employer is under no obligation to co-operate with the union to ensure this is accurate. If there is the slightest inaccuracy, even where it did not affect the result, the ballot is open to being challenged by the employer and quashed by the courts.

There can be no question of the union ballot-rigging or interfering in the balloting process because it is undertaken by an independent scrutineer, usually the Electoral Reform Society, and all ballot papers are sent by post to the homes of the members being balloted, and returned to the ERS for counting. The union at no time handles the ballot papers.

On at least four occasions in the last three years I have tried in parliament on behalf of RMT and other TUC-affiliated unions to amend employment law to require employers to co-operate with unions in the balloting process so these problems can be overcome. Employers’ organisations, the Conservatives and the government have all opposed this reform.

The result is not fewer strikes but a deteriorating industrial relations climate as people become increasingly angry that their democratic wishes are frustrated by one-sided anti-trade-union laws.

John McDonnell MP

Also see SU

Posted in Human Rights, Labour rights, Media. Tags: , . Comments Off on John McDonnell’s Letter To The Guardian Re: RMT Ballot

Meanwhile, Posties


A second front has been opened in the increasingly bitter industrial dispute between unions and Royal Mail that threatens to bring more chaos for millions of households and businesses.
Leaders of the Unite union, representing Royal Mail’s 12,000 managers, urged them not to cover for postal workers in the next round of national strikes. The move could see even fewer letters and parcels delivered.
The ratcheting up of pressure comes as the national stoppage enters a second day, leaving managers to operate a skeleton postal service. The Communication Workers Union, representing the rest of Royal Mail’s 160,000 staff, also announced another wave of national strike action, starting on Thursday next week.
The beginning of the strike brought disruption to millions, among them small-business owners, people on benefits, hospital patients, parents trying to get their children secondary school places, online shoppers and those racing to meet the 31 October deadline for paper tax returns.
The Guardian, meanwhile, has learned that the CWU will seek an injunction in the high court in the next few days to prevent Royal Mail taking on 30,000 extra temporary staff. Rob McCreath, of Archon solicitors, said the union had a good chance of securing a temporary injunction with immediate effect, particularly now that further strikes have been announced. This would ban Royal Mail from taking on any more extra staff until a formal hearing takes place, probably in a couple of months.
The union claims the recruitment of temporary staff, announced last weekend, breaches employment law and constitutes illegal “strike-breaking”.
A second front has been opened in the increasingly bitter industrial dispute between unions and Royal Mail that threatens to bring more chaos for millions of households and businesses.

Leaders of the Unite union, representing Royal Mail’s 12,000 managers, urged them not to cover for postal workers in the next round of national strikes. The move could see even fewer letters and parcels delivered.

The ratcheting up of pressure comes as the national stoppage enters a second day, leaving managers to operate a skeleton postal service. The Communication Workers Union, representing the rest of Royal Mail’s 160,000 staff, also announced another wave of national strike action, starting on Thursday next week.

The beginning of the strike brought disruption to millions, among them small-business owners, people on benefits, hospital patients, parents trying to get their children secondary school places, online shoppers and those racing to meet the 31 October deadline for paper tax returns.

The Guardian, meanwhile, has learned that the CWU will seek an injunction in the high court in the next few days to prevent Royal Mail taking on 30,000 extra temporary staff. Rob McCreath, of Archon solicitors, said the union had a good chance of securing a temporary injunction with immediate effect, particularly now that further strikes have been announced. This would ban Royal Mail from taking on any more extra staff until a formal hearing takes place, probably in a couple of months.

The union claims the recruitment of temporary staff, announced last weekend, breaches employment law and constitutes illegal “strike-breaking”.

Robin Hood Goes Postal- Support The Posties!

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.

Check out Roy Mayall’s Blog Going Postal (ht2 Soul of a Man Under Capitalism)

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.

Posted in Class War, Shock Doctrine. Tags: , . Comments Off on Robin Hood Goes Postal- Support The Posties!

Royal Mail Is Lying

London Review of Books, Diary by Roy Mayall:- The truth is that the figures aren’t down at all. We have proof of this. The Royal Mail have been fiddling the figures. This is how it is being done.

Mail is delivered to the offices in grey boxes. These are a standard size, big enough to carry a few hundred letters. The mail is sorted from these boxes, put into pigeon-holes representing the separate walks, and from there carried over to the frames. This is what is called ‘internal sorting’ and it is the job of the full-timers, who come into work early to do it. In the past, the volume of mail was estimated by weighing the boxes. These days it is done by averages. There is an estimate for the number of letters that each box contains, decided on by national agreement between the management and the union. That number is 208. This is how the volume of mail passing through each office is worked out: 208 letters per box times the number of boxes. However, within the last year Royal Mail has arbitrarily, and without consultation, reduced the estimate for the number of letters in each box. It was 208: now they say it is 150. This arbitrary reduction more than accounts for the 10 per cent reduction that the Royal Mail claims is happening nationwide.

Doubting the accuracy of these numbers, the union ordered a random manual count to be undertaken over a two-week period in a number of offices across the region. Our office was one of them. On average, those boxes which the Royal Mail claims contain only 150 letters, actually carry 267 items of mail. This, then, explains how the Royal Mail can say that the figures are down, although every postman knows that volume is up. The figures are down all right, but only because they have been manipulated.

MORE

Royal Mail’s Management Strategy- Scabbing

Wankers!

Royal Mail will recruit up to 30,000 temporary staff to deal with upcoming strikes by postal workers and the Christmas rush, the service has said. The Communication Workers Union has called two nationwide strikes next week over pay, conditions and reform. The firm said it would hire twice the usual number of extra pre-Christmas staff to cut the impact of “unjustified and irresponsible” industrial action. But the CWU said managers should be talking, not “planning for failure”. The 24-hour strikes will begin on 22 October. On the first day, mail centre staff and drivers will strike. The next day it will be delivery and collection staff.

And guess what, because of the ‘crisis’ (the creators of which are currently paying themselves multimillion pound bonuses) there are lots of unemployed people and because of welfare privatisation and ‘reform’ they cannot survive for long or take work of their choice, see how that works?

Island March

WHEN: 12pm, Saturday, 19th September 2009
WHERE: Holyhead Town Hall, Newry Street, LL65

Hundreds of Unite members, along with people from across Anglesey will hold a demonstration tomorrow (Saturday, 19th September) against the proposed closure of the Anglesey Aluminium smelting plant by Rio Tinto.

Demonstrators will carry placards demanding Rio Tinto ‘put people before profit’ to show their anger and disappointment over its decision to close Anglesey Aluminium, one of the largest employers in North Wales.

Anglesey Aluminium, jointly owned by Rio Tinto Alcan (51 per cent) and Kaiser Aluminium (49 per cent), was unwilling to commit to the long term future of the plant therefore condemning the 500 highly skilled workers. This decision has deeply affected the lives of families associated to the smelter and will kill-off Holyhead and its surrounding communities.

Unite found it astonishing that Anglesey Aluminium has refused to accept a rescue package of £48 million, given by the national government and the Welsh Assembly government, which would’ve seen the site remain open for at least another two years.

The site is currently continuing its smelting operations and is extremely busy in meeting customer demands. However, Unite believes it is in essence squeezing every last drop of aluminium prior to the closure which will be on the 30th September.

Unite national officer for metals, Terry Pye, said: “This is a disgraceful decision by Rio Tinto. We believe the only reason for the closure is one of greed. We have been angered further by the plant’s refusal to accept a rescue package which would’ve kept the site open for a further two years.”

Unite regional officer, Graham Rogers, said: “This is a clear case of a multinational company putting profit before people. This rally will demonstrate the strength of feeling the community has towards this closure. Hundreds of families’ livelihoods hang in the balance and we will not give up on them without a fight.”

Posted in Recession, Resistance, Shock Doctrine. Tags: . Comments Off on Island March

Vestas Repossessed By Bailiffs

Workers who staged a sit-in protest at a wind turbine blade factory on the Isle of Wight have left the building. Bailiffs entered the offices of Vestas in Newport at 1200 BST after the firm was granted a possession order. One man jumped from a balcony and was taken to hospital as a precaution and two abseiled from a wall.

Workers had occupied an office inside the plant since 20 July in protest at plans to axe 625 jobs, which the firm said was due to a fall in demand. Bailiffs were told they could use “reasonable force” to remove the remaining six workers after a court order was issued on Thursday.

Crowds of supporters lined the site cheering on the men before they were were spoken to by police. They had raised a sign from a balcony outside which said “Vestas, this is only the start, you will lose.” One of the workers told the BBC: “It was all a bit bewildering to get out but a big relief. I hugged my daughter who shed a few tears and saw my family. We feel that we have won a moral victory.”

A rooftop demonstration at a second Vestas site in East Cowes, by climate change protesters, is set to continue for “as long” as the workers want it to, a spokesman said.

The fight goes on savevestas.wordpress.com meanwhile…fucking bailiffs, the thugs of capital, collaborators, cowards and betrayers, as usual.