Thursday 11 October 2007

Brwon Must Intervene to Resolve Postal Services Industrial Dispute

On Moday I spoke at a packed rally of postal workers in Central Hall Westminster alongside Billy Hayes General Secretary of CWU, Tony Benn and Mark Serwatka from PCS in support of the postal workers strike action. It is clear that the union has co-operated throughout in working to secure a settlement to this dispute on the basis of a modern, effective postal service. Indeed it is the union that has over a number of years proposed investment plans for the improvement and extension of services to ensure that Royal Mail remains an effficient and competitive community service.

I am increasingly convinced that the management of Royal Mail is aiming to force through as part of this dispute a casualisation of the workforce, resulting in lower pay, longer hours and an erosion of pensions and working conditions. Management has already taken a "you'll do as I tell you, what I tell you and when I tell you" attitude to the workforce resulting in a series of spontaneous unofficial strikes across the country.

The Government has introduced legislation allowing a creeping privatisation of postal services.The private sector is able to cherry pick the most profitable contracts and ultimately undermine this essential community service. The management's response to this pressure is to seek cuts in wages and conditions - a race to the bottom.

However, the current dispute isn't just about wages and working conditions, it is also about the future of the postal service itself.

The Government owns the Royal Mail. It is the sole shareholder. That is why the responsibility falls on Gordon Brown's shoulders to intervene to resolve this dispute.

Yesterday I tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling upon the Prime Minister to intervene. So far all he has done is call upon the CWU members to go back to work.

I think it is time the Prime Minister got to work on this issue. That is what leadership is all about.