The ballot on the Communication Workers’ Union’s deal with Royal Mail will now run from 7-23 April. The leadership is now busy giving union activists their marching orders, lining up reps and branches to go out and campaign for a “yes” vote in the upcoming ballot on the deal.
One rep told Solidarity, “there have been a number of reps’ briefings going on recently, but it’s generally just the top table talking up the deal”.
Another said, “the leadership have made it quite clear that there is no plan B — this is it. They regard the deal we have as a strong bargaining position”.
The deal is bad. It represents no concessions from management on the big questions of job cuts and restructuring, and will allow Royal Mail to continue with its agenda of eroding wages and casualising the industry unabated.
Delivery staff will find themselves carrying more junk mail for less money. All postal workers should join with delivery workers in rejecting this deal — in the name of solidarity with their colleagues in deliveries; but also because this deal will sign away the job security of all postal workers.
Several branches of the CWU have already voted to recommend a no vote in the ballot — including Bristol and District Amalgamated and South East Wales Amalgamated and the unit reps’ network in the North Lancashire and Cumbria branch. We will be speaking to branches that vote to reject the deal, and reporting on the campaign for the “no” vote.
Branches, reps and CWU members and activists who oppose the deal should co-ordinate their campaign against the deal nationally as a first step in creating a rank-and-file platform of postal workers which is politically independent of the official leadership.
Rob Wotherspoon, a deliveries rep from Bristol, spoke to Solidarity about the decision by the Branch Committee to reject the deal.
Why was the vote to reject the deal unanimous?
It was unanimous because we believe it's a very bad deal for delivery workers who make up the majority of workers in our branch. So in the name of unity, people who didn't work in delivery were prepared to reject it because it wasn't good enough for part of the membership. But there are no guarantees that mail centres will stay open, either. They reckon Royal Mail are planning to close half of all mail centres within the next three years. We don't believe that anyone who works in a mail centre can feel that secure in their jobs; there are no safeguards for them in this deal.
Delivery workers are going to be ending up working longer on the weekend, on the street longer, and to add insult to injury for many delivery workers, they will be taking a pay cut for at least the first year. We currently get paid an extra rate for doing “door-to-doors”, unaddressed items of mail [junk mail]. We get paid a piece rate per item for those. This is all going to be put into one payment but that also includes an earlier sum, so effectively you only get paid £8 a week for doing door to doors. On average now, people are getting £20-30 a week for doing this. People are taking a pay cut for this.
Why did the CWU postal executive committee vote 'overwhelmingly' to accept this deal?
I'd say I think a lot of them are out of touch with the membership; and there's probably a few people who don't have the courage to stand up and say when something's wrong.
What should other people who disagree with the deal do?
They should do the same as we will be doing: meet the members in the workplaces. For the next few weeks our branch will be going out, meeting members in delivery offices, and we'll be sending out a letter to people's home addresses, talking directly to members, telling them to reject the deal.
In terms of the wider union we have expressed our opinion at briefings and other branches will make up their own minds. We intend to lead by example.
What do you think of those branches that oppose the deal meeting up to co-ordinate a national campaign?
Maybe not a bad idea. But we do not have much time before the vote and we will be concentrating on meeting with our members.