Our Say

After G8 and the London bombings - the way forward

London terror attacks condemned

After Live 8:
from pressure to action

The G8 summit and political power

Make the G8 leaders history

A sham election

10 good reasons to boycott May 5

Don't be blackmailed into voting

Reject ‘dependency’ politics

No votes for New Labour!

Parliament seals its own fate

A secret policeman's government

Vote for "none of the above"

How to remember the victims of the tsunami

A state of crisis

New Labour and the big lie

Yasser Arafat - a revolutionary life

After the US election

Blood on New Labour's hands

Butler and weapons of mass deception

With 'leaders' like these, who needs enemies?

How to meet the threat from the right

Barbarians at the gate

Torture, values and lies

The silence of the lambs

War crimes in Iraq

The slaughter in Madrid

The unfinished business of the miners’ strike 1984-85

L’état – c’est New Labour

The death of liberal democracy foretold

Hutton washes the state whiter than white

Top-up fees and the market economy

Our challenge for 2004

New Labour's march to a police state

Bush & Blair - partners in crime

London Region revolts against FBU leaders

Postal workers in the front line

No turning back

Where we go from here

Stop the War Coalition leaders and political fabrication

Regime change begins at home

Blood on New Labour's hands

There's more involved than just Blair

New Labour, lies and spies

Firefighters should reject deal and disown leaders

BECTU vote on New Labour link a step forward

Time runs out for FBU leaders

New Labour's one-party state

The blind alley of crude anti-Americanism

Occupation of Iraq - time to move beyond protest

War is a test for principles

Iraqi defiance shocks and awes

FBU leaders who backed capitulation should resign now

Down with New Labour's war - for regime change in Britain

FBU at war with New Labour

New Labour, not just Blair, is the target

50 years since the death of Stalin - an assessment

FBU finds itself in Precott's trap

War is Peace - Blair's fictitious 'push for peace'

15/2: Global marches put power on the agenda

Crisis of globalisation behind attack on Iraq

Tell it how it is

An injury to one is an injury to all

War plans expose fraudulent 'democracy'

A 'regime change' in Britain is the answer to war on Iraq

FBU needs a new strategy

Challenging New Labour

A moment of truth in the fight against New Labour

Gilchrist says it how it is

Time to defy the anti-union laws in support of the FBU

FBU must ask for solidarity strikes

FBU leaders must ask for support now

New Labour provokes confrontation

Italian police attack No-Global movement

New Labour declares war on FBU

Don't let the FBU fight alone

UN writes a blank cheque for war

Blood on Putin's hands

Unions must support firefighters with action not words

Support the firefighters - defeat New Labour

Bush-Blair war agenda revealed

Seeing through New Labour's weapons of mass deception

The US media and the new garrison state

The BEGINNING of Politics

How technology could
free humanity

'Terminator' engineering: A threat to humanity

The future is socialist

Asylum legislation fuels racist attacks

Road map to the future

E-mail to hear about site changes, placing 'update' in body of message



Postal workers in the front line

The agreement reached between Communication Workers Union leaders and Royal Mail management is a temporary truce in a struggle about fundamental issues and principles to do with public services. Spontaneous walk-outs by 20,000 postal workers may have stayed the hand of management for the moment but Royal Mail bosses are determined to “modernise” the service at the expense of staff conditions and jobs.

While the post service nominally remains state-owned, it is driven by commercial considerations of profit and loss. This is thanks to the New Labour government, which imposed these conditions as part of their drive to make the whole economy “competitive” and subject to market forces.

This is also the agenda of the European Union, which is a vehicle for the interests of the major communication corporations. The EU is forcing postal markets to open up to private competition, adding to pressure on the British post service.

As a result, the dispute has at its heart the question of whether services are run for the benefit of the capitalist market economy or in the general public interest on a not-for-profit basis. The CWU leaders have so far failed to make this clear and develop a strategy in response.

That is one factor behind the recent decision of the membership to vote narrowly against a strike over pay. In the end, the major issue they face  is about jobs and working conditions, where the employer plans to sack thousands and impose harsh “flexible” practices.

There is no simple, negotiated trade-union type of solution to hand in these circumstances. There are profound political and economic challenges which the CWU cannot meet on its own or simply through the strike weapon, especially where the membership is left to walk out while the leaders hide behind Tory/New Labour anti-union legislation.

Postal workers are going through an experience which firefighters endured earlier this year. Do the interests of the community come before balance sheets and privatisation? The Fire Brigades Union leaders concocted a half-baked deal which opened the door to cuts. Now they are being provoked back into action by employers who are holding back on an agreed pay rise. The break-up of the National Health Service through the imposition of “foundation” hospitals will soon confront Unison and other unions. What are they going to do about it, other than make angry speeches?  

An opportunity exists for a number of unions like the CWU, the FBU and Unison to join forces against the market economy and the corporations who are waiting to pounce on public sector services. Any strategy limited to putting pressure on New Labour is doomed, as the FBU found out. If the so-called “awkward squad” of union leaders are really serious about opposing the government, they have to start a campaign immediately for an alternative to New Labour. They should suspend financial payments to New Labour pending the creation of a new party which aims to create alternatives to the market economy.

There is tremendous opposition to the policies of the Blair government, whether on the invasion of Iraq, privatisation of services and its role as the agency for big business in Britain. The CWU leaders have the chance to rally these forces beyond protest and beyond New Labour.

Movement for a Socialist Future
4 November 2003