Moving beyond resistance…
When two tribes go to war…in this example, the two tribes being the Communication Workers Union and the management of Royal Mail then it becomes about more than money. It is rather a sad state of affairs when two sides to a negotiation can’t even agree on the number of meetings they have had, something that was drawn to my attention by the BBC’s Radio 5 Live as they reported on Brendan Barbar’s narrative of ‘constructive’ talks the TUC is hosting.
Apparently, new strikes are imminent and the talks have failed in their bid to avert them. Neither side has particularly covered itself in glory and both sides clearly want this confrontation; numerous stories have circulated saying that Royal Mail management wants to ‘break’ and ultimately derecognise the CWU while the CWU has defended the status quo without advancing what could be termed its own plans for modernisation. For example, it has frequently cited the number of Post Office closures but not suggested how they could diversify, how they could extend their financial functions.
Legitimate grievances on their side do exist;
In recent months, Royal Mail’s meat-headed management has accelerated attempts to impose job cuts and office closures, longer shifts and increases in the working week, heavier workloads, longer and faster delivery rounds, more casual and part-time working and effective cuts in pay – while reports of rampant bullying, harassment and sackings on paper-thin pretexts multiply.
Not that you would recognise this listening to any Labour ministers and in the above commentary the charge of ‘provocation’ when levelled against the Royal Mail management clearly sticks. However, instead of charming the public, which overwhelmingly supports a fully public postal service, they have come across as unconcerned about the public and unable to counter the managements agenda. Tactically inept therefore the leadership defiantly is; urging ‘patience’ won’t wash with most people, understandable to a degree as they have their own lives and the blockage to the postal service will affect them.
However, I can’t help but sympathise with Seumas Milne in The Guardian, who draws a parrell with the Leeds binstrikers;
By refusing to accept these assaults on their livelihoods, both Leeds binmen and postal workers across the country are resisting the race to the bottom that has been such an ugly hallmark of the past couple of decades.
However, postal workers will have to do more than resist; they will have to make a case for an alternative vision and show people that their vision of a modern postal service is much better both than the governments and Royal Mail’s.