CWU election: kick out Keggie!

By a postal worker

The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) is currently balloting its postal members for the positions of Deputy General Secretary (Postal) and the thirteen members of the Postal Industrial Executive. The election for DGS(P) will be contested between the current incumbent John Keggie, and Dave Ward, who is currently a National Officer on the postal side of the union.

In his election address, Keggie defends his record of the last four and a half years. He lists stopping privatisation of the postal industry as among his achievements, yet also lists securing a pay and conditions deal on the sell off RoMEC as being another achievement. In an unspoken swipe at the London Division, Keggie pledges to maintain national pay bargaining and says that he will not be a "prisoner in any faction or alliance". He re-states his commitment to achieving a £300 a week for all postal workers but says nothing as to whether this will be made out of new money and gives no commitment to addressing the problems of regional inequality over pay.

He also repeats the mantra of winning a 35 hour week, without explaining how or why nothing has been done under his leadership to move this issue forward in any way. Even more worryingly, he commits only to a "maximisation" of permanent contracts, rather than putting an end to temporary and casual contracts which have become a legacy of his leadership.

This issue is a key one for the future of postal members and Keggie's bland statement does nothing to assure us that we will not be facing even more job cuts under his leadership on top of the tens of thousands that have been lost over the last four years.

Dave Ward, whilst addressing the issue of creating an "inclusive" leadership style against Keggie's divide and rule tactics and "gravy train culture", puts forward a much more positive programme on pay. He rightly points out that the union must go beyond £300 a week, which is being used by Royal Mail to push forward their own job cutting agenda, and pledges that he will use industrial action to meet a pay strategy based on winning new money, not robbing Peter to pay Paul.

But the issue of fighting job cuts and fighting for permanent contracts for all goes unmentioned. Unfortunately it appears that negotiations over TDS which have been led by Ward have not achieved this result, which may explain why the deal will not be put to the vote until after the election.

CWU postal members should vote for Dave Ward, not on the basis that we believe he has the answers to the battles that lie ahead, but on the basis that we believe his loyalty lies more with fighting for the interests of postal members than does Keggie's. As the CWU's representative on the Labour Party National Executive, Keggie has constantly either ignored or opposed union policy on many political and industrial issues. For him "winning influence" with Government ministers means making himself a friend of New Labour at the expense of his members.

His interests are solely with advancing his own personal influence and building himself a platform to pursue a high profile career. He fears the rank and file membership more than anything else.

This can be proved from the private correspondence earlier this year in which he made it clear that he was unhappy that Dave Ward had the audacity to challenge him in this election and thus provide members with a clear choice for the leadership of their union. His attitude to the London postal members who have been asking for action to achieve pay equality with the rest of the country has been to turn the rest of the country against London as a means of promoting himself as a figure of unity.

Ironically, the CWU is one of very few unions in the public sector that have not been actively pursuing increases in pay for their London members.