CWU

Postal dispute: delivering first class resistance to Royal Mail bosses

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With postal workers taking to the picket lines last month, Mark Dolan, a prominent CWU activist, writes about strikes, rank and file organisation and 30 years working in the post office

I left school at 16 and became a telegram boy for Royal Mail. When I got the job it was regarded as a bit of a privilege as it was part of the civil service. I was probably one of the last to join as a telegram boy. I used to deliver them on a pedal bike, then on a scooter. The idea was that when you were 18 you progressed to sorting letters on the shop floor and going out on deliveries.

Calling for recognition

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Every night, all around the country, in the 21st century factories known as call centres, some 750,000 workers will breathe a collective sigh of relief as they get the signal that their shift has finally come to an end.

The signal to stop work in the call centre I work in is a manager flicking the main switch off and on - "flashing the lights".

It's a moment of glee as workers are released from the monotony of repeating themselves for hours and the stress of attempting to convince someone to part with a slice of their wages or pension. At that moment, we can all relax. Or perhaps not.

The politics of the post strike

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The postal workers' strikes have seen 130,000 workers taking action, with picket lines in every town and city across the country. Charlie Kimber looks at the impact of the dispute and how the political fallout has led many union members to question trade union links with the Labour Party.

For the past four months the strikes in Royal Mail have been the central question of working class struggle. It was always going to be a major battle, an important one for every trade unionist.

The Wildcats are Back

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The victorious postal strike has put unofficial action back on the agenda, writes Martin Smith. Postal workers describe their success.

'Your world has turned upside down, and if you strike it will turn upside down again.' So warned Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton, shortly after post workers narrowly rejected a national strike ballot over pay. The post workers' world has not turned upside down - but Leighton's surely has. An unofficial strike by over 35,000 workers has produced one of the biggest victories the British trade union movement has seen in over 20 years.

Blink and You'll Miss It

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The narrow vote against national strike action by postal workers came as a shock to many of us in the Communication Workers Union.

Royal Mail bosses, on the other hand, were jubilant. This strengthens their ability to ram through 30,000 redundancies with a staged productivity pay deal. The Financial Times summed it up like this: ’Royal Mail and the CWU were eyeball to eyeball, and 48,000 members of the CWU blinked.‘

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