Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorial - Post Office special - 15 December 2008

15 December 2008

 Postal strikes - Royal Mail's attacks must be met with a united fight, not isolated token action!

On Friday there is meant to be a 24-hour strike involving 7 Mail Centres out of the 13 which the bosses at Royal Mail have earmarked for closure.

The union chose this Friday to call the strike because it is the last Friday before Xmas and one of the busiest in sorting offices. Unsurprisingly, the right-wing press is having a field day - like the Daily Wail, which accused postal workers of sabotaging Xmas and the CWU of being "heartless".

But the real issue is not whether the CWU leadership has a heart, but whether it has a head, with a brain inside! We cannot understand why only the offices due for closure were balloted - and not even all of them! Why is the union not trying to demonstrate, rather, that the whole workforce is united against these outrageous cuts? Would that not be the most obvious way to show Royal Mail that we are determined to prevent them closing these offices and cutting these jobs, as well as all those they may be planning to cut in the future?

These closures and tens of thousands of new job cuts are part of a "Modernisation Plan" which has been causing problems for all postal workers everywhere! Did the CWU leaders even bother to "test the water" over this though? Not at all! No, they claim that the Mail Centre closures can, on the one hand, be fought isolated case by isolated case, and on the other, that these ballots are really a negotiating tool in order to get Royal Mail to come up with a new national agreement. Only if Royal Mail refuses to negotiate, will they then threaten a "national ballot"!

This is coming from a union leadership that has just been totally by-passed by Royal Mail in the implementation of the changes to the postal workers' pension scheme - the issue which brought postal workers out on strike last year, alongside the "Modernisation Plan" which makes all workers do more for less. They have said time and again, ever since, that they did not agree with the changes, and accuse the bosses of side-lining them. So one would think they would have even more reason to call a fight - nationally - against these closures and cuts. Offices through the north-west of the country to Oxford, Coventry, Milton Keynes and elsewhere, may be threatened for now, but they leave no office unscathed - whether it be distribution, deliveries or sorting! All postal workers quite obviously have an interest in calling time on the Royal Mail bosses, especially after the past year of management bulldozing its changes through. Moreover the strikes over other issues called for the 20th and after, like in Stoke and Somerset, prove that there are many determined workers out there!

This decision by the CWU to wage an isolated one day strike in just a few offices, is yet another reminder that we cannot rely on the union leadership to defend our jobs and conditions. It is a reminder that we will need to face the task of organising our own fights and our own solidarity against the current slaughter of conditions and jobs - today, more than ever, when so much is at stake.

In fact, it is up to workers everywhere to seize control of our own fights. Ultimately, it will mean much more than that. It will mean seizing control of our own jobs and workplaces. But for the time being we need to be prepared to take our struggles into our own hands. This may be something which has not happened very much in the past. But today we clearly have no other choice.

 The capitalist economy is crumbling, but "general" Brown wants to step up the war in Afghanistan

During his surprise trip to Afghanistan, last week, Brown announced officially that more troops were to be sent to Afghanistan. Yet more troops, after 7 years of a bloody war which had no justification in the first place, and has proved a complete failure ever since! Brown followed Blair's policy of coat-tailing Washington in its attempt to bomb this part of the world into submission. But to no avail.

If after so many years of fighting, the anti-occupation forces are stronger than ever, despite the West's massive superiority in fire power, it is simply because no war can ever be won against the will of a whole population.

At a time when the planet's entire economy is threatened with collapse due to the irresponsibility of the profit sharks, there is even less reason for the working class of this country to tolerate this government's predatory military ventures in the poor countries. Not only do they cost lives, among the Afghan population as well as among young soldiers, but they cost a huge amount of funds that should be used where they are needed, to protect the populations against the capitalists and their crisis.

More than ever, it is the responsibility of the working class movement to bring this cynical war to an end, by getting all western troops out now!