Friday, 23 October 2009

No post today? Blame the Government....

Like thousands of Brighton residents I didn't get my post this morning - postal workers and members of the Communication Workers' Union are striking for a second day this week.

Striking isn't an action anyone takes lightly - who wants to volunteer to lose a day's pay in order to stand around a brazier on a cold October morning?

But I'm glad The Argus is reporting today that public sympathy for the posties is high, and that most of us recognise this strike is about nothing less than saving the Royal Mail as we know it - a state-controlled, essential, public service.

It's necessary because Government policy has been to promote privatisation at EU level, and open up the postal market to competition from the private sector.

It stands to reason that the profitable postal jobs, like handling business mail between, say, London and Brighton, will be snapped up by the private companies - and the Royal Mail will be left handling all the second-class letters from mid-Wales to Aberdeenshire, and, finding it impossible to turn a profit be forced to close a Post Office or two just to stay afloat.

So that nice Mr Mandelson is, basically, seeking to dismantle the Royal Mail - and decimate local communities dependant on their Post Office along the way.

Or, put another way (in the words of a letter from Green Party leader Caroline Lucas (pictured, at Brighton's North Road sorting office) to CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes):

"this Labour Government is 'ill-serving' workers and the UK public alike... ...with its shameful privatisation of public services which has led to increased marginalisation and inequalities in terms of public access to services".

In her letter to Mr Hayes, Dr Lucas says:

"In our view, Royal Mail workers and management have been on a collision course since the private sector has been forced on the service.

"By removing profitable parts of the business for the benefit of speculators and investors, the Government has created an environment in which the interests of the population of the UK as a whole have been ill-served, none more so than your members.

"It is shameful that a Labour Government should have played such a role in the privatisation of public services, and in a way which has increased marginalisation and inequalities in terms of access to services.

"It is especially concerning that this Labour Government is not content with overseeing the dismantling of this vital service, but now appears to be colluding with Royal Mail management to undermine the rights of the Union and its representatives, and condoning the side-lining of the CWU in working towards the completion of the agreement from the last period of industrial action."

The Green Party leader offered the CWU the Green's full support in the
coming days, stating that "...we hope that any action is swift and
positive in its results. As we did two years ago, we will lobby at
every level to support the CWU cause."


  1. Ben
    there wasn't a brazier on the picket line and it wasn't cold.
    But it was an inspiring picket line.CWU members solid behind the strike.Visitors from other unions including unison,UCU, unite and university students who'd collected over £100.
    I welcome the statements from the Green Party but I was expected some of the councillors on the picket line.
    I think if local Greens got involved in showing solidarity with this strike,some of the trade unionist and socialists who find the Greens a bit removed from the real lives of working class people might take you a bit more seriously and even help to get Caroline elected as MP.
    Come along to the Post Workers Support Group at the Albert pub (top of Trafalger St) on Wednesdays 8pm (next mtg 28/10).
    Please join in our street collections for the CWU strike fund.
    Join the picket lines,5.30am onwards at North Rd and Hove(by Hove station).
    Please publicise the strikers rally on 17th Nov at the Brighthelm with speakers from CWU,Brighton bin depot and Brighton Housing Trust.

  2. DJ - I was there on the picket, but at a time when there were no others there supporting the striking postal workers.

    I have been in touch with the local CWU Branch Secretary before the strike, and spent my time on the picket line getting the story first hand from those affected by this nonsense with Royal Mail.

    What I didn't do was go around bragging that I was a Green Councillor - I didn't keep it secret either, but I'm sure many of those on the picket didn't realise I was. I was there to support them, not use their action as a tool in any political games. I also know that other Green Party members have been down there, but maybe they too weren't playing the politics card too strongly either.

    Maybe that's where I am at fault - I'm not out and out a politician or self publicist. I'll just carry on doing what I think is right, and supporting others doing the same and not spend too much time dwelling on how to extract the maximum advantage for myself from what I do.

    Maybe I'll see you there next week, if it comes to it again. I'll be the one not wearing a rosette.

  3. I clearly owe the local Green Party an apology.I should have got my facts right before saying there were no Green councillors on the picket line.
    I'm also sorry if I came across as saying that the Greens don't take links with trade unions seriously.I know it does,at all levels of the trade union movement,including the CWU.
    And I'm sorry if I came across as a bit patronising,or as a "self publicist".
    I have got a bit evangelical about this strike and because I think it could soon be such a key dispute,I end up nagging everyone I know to get involved.
    I can assure you it isn't about "extracting maximum influence for myself" Sven.
    I just think that the Green Party,your councillors and especially Caroline SHOULD be "playing the political card" more.Its not about using the postal workers "action as a tool in any political games".
    I simply think that it would benefit the postal workers if a high profile local party like the Greens was even more upfront about its good policies and practical support on the picket lines.
    When we start collecting on the streets and outside and inside workplaces,Caroline and yourselves being there as known Greens strengthens the postal workers fight.But it also boosts further the standing of the Greens in the city amongst those who campaign for social justice.
    To that end,I would also like to see Caroline on the platform with strikers at forthcoming meetings.
    I hope my annoying tone doesn't prevent us from continuing to work together on such important issues.

  4. Thanks for the apology, but really not needed and maybe I need to in turn say sorry if what I wrote sounded like it was aimed at you.

    Comments like 'extracting maximum influence' and 'self publicist', 'using the action as a tool in the political game' etc were not in any way aimed at you. I know that this was not your motivation in writing, nor in your active support for such causes.

    No, my comments were more aimed at politicians, current and aspiring. In particular, I had in mind the prominent and ostentatious activity of Nancy Platts around the time of the last strike, out on the picket, being everyones friend and being seen to be their friend. Then she campaigned against post office closures with David Lepper, again very public and ostentatious. Then the government she wants to be a part of voted to close them despite a chorus of local opposition, and David Lepper voted for the closure too! That is self serving self publicist political gamesmanship and that is what I can't bring myself to be a part of.

    I take on board what you say about the need for us to up our exposure as supporters of the strike, and I have offered our support to the CWU locally, using our position as Green Councillors to raise the profile of their cause nd I will follow their lead on this. But I won't turn up at the picket and force my own agenda on theirs, not without their agreement and support anyway.