Royal Mail workers in Merseyside were set to strike for two days from Saturday of this week against a major attack on their CWU union.
Their fight is hugely important to every Royal Mail worker and their right to strike—and to workers everywhere.
Workers at the Bootle and Seaforth delivery office in Merseyside were shocked last week when two of their colleagues were sacked for gross misconduct.
CWU officials called the strike—set for Saturday of this week and Monday of next week—in defence of their members.
CWU union rep Chris Stott and the two sacked workers are three of the 21 union members targeted with disciplinary charges following an unofficial strike last year.
Workers walked out last October after a manager made alleged racist comments towards a Muslim worker.
The unofficial strike also spread to Warrington mail centre after drivers there were suspended for rightly refusing to cross picket lines at Bootle.
The action ended after bosses ran to the courts to get an injunction. Bosses launched a major offensive against the workers.
In a podcast released this week, CWU deputy general secretary (postal) Terry Pullinger said the two workers were sacked over private messages seen by managers.
“An independent private WhatsApp group has been infiltrated,” he said. “It is totally unacceptable.
“Where is privacy here? What’s been said that’s so serious that a person should lose their income and lose their job over it?”
Royal Mail bosses want to make an example of the Bootle strikers. They want to stamp out the culture of solidarity among CWU members of striking unofficially against bullying bosses. It is also likely that they will take further legal action against CWU officials over October’s walkout.
Pullinger said Royal Mail bosses were using the dispute “to try and put this union in its place—and our members are being used as pawns”.The union can’t afford to let the bosses get away with this attack—it affects everyone who works for Royal Mail.
CWU communications officer Chris Webb said some members say the union can’t resolve its national dispute with Royal Mail (see below) until the Bootle dispute is settled.
At the very least, the rest of the Merseyside branch should be balloted. But postal workers should be prepared to take unofficial action to win—and the union at every level should back them.
When workers at Warrington were suspended for not crossing the Bootle picket, the suspensions were lifted quickly following an unofficial strike at Warrington.
And all trade unionists and anti-racists in Merseyside should join the picket line.
Union could launch new national ballot next month after ‘difficult’ talks
A Royal Mail union leader has said postal workers could reballot for national strikes if bosses don’t back down from a major offensive.
Royal Mail bosses want to attack workers’ jobs and working conditions.
Speaking on Monday of this week, CWU union deputy general secretary (postal) Terry Pullinger said the union could launch a ballot at the end of February.
Pullinger said CWU officials were in talks with bosses. But he described negotiations as “difficult,” adding that there was “still a lot of bitterness”.
It comes after Royal Mail bosses ran to the High Court last year to stop a national strike.
CWU members had voted 97 percent on a 76 percent turnout to strike—a clear sign that Royal Mail workers are ready to fight for their jobs and conditions.
But the High Court agreed that because some workers had opened their ballot papers at work, the entire vote was unlawful.
Chief executive Rico Back wants to split Royal Mail up into a new parcels company run for profit, and a letters delivery service that will be run down.
That means taking vital work away from Royal Mail—causing at least 20,000 job losses.
And the union fears Back’s ambition to scrap Royal Mail’s obligation to deliver letters six days a week will lead to many more. Workers were ready to strike after the ballot result was announced in November last year.
Now some activists worry that the delay since then has taken the momentum out of the dispute.
The union should reballot for strikes as soon as possible—and workers should be prepared to defy bosses and the law to defend their futures.
If they do the whole union movement must support them.