18 Sep 2009

Support the postal workers!

Just got mailed this.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber pledged the "full and strong support"
of the whole seven-million strong UK trade union movement for our postal
members in dispute with Royal Mail.

Taking time out of his busy schedule to address the CWU's lunchtime fringe
meeting, Mr Barber condemned the public attacks being made on our union by
Royal Mail and others and described as "lies" any suggestion that we are
trying to block change.

"I know this union is committed to genuine modernisation," he insisted and
explained how the 2007 Pay and Modernisation Agreement - which he played a
significant personal role in helping to shape - had established the
principle of change by consent.

"But this dialogue is not now taking place," the TUC leader continued,
adding: "There's investment from government not spent and machinery not
being deployed."

After promising, once again, to help and support our members, Mr Barber
concluded: "Your union is in a bitter and difficult battle, but it's a
battle that's got to be won."

The meeting then heard two first-hand accounts of how Royal Mail is treating
some of our front-line members, victimised Burslem postal worker Paul Malyan
telling us of his ongoing fight for justice - a struggle that he and others
remain determined to win nearly two years after being sacked for their trade
union activities.

And a female south London delivery worker told a harrowing story of having
been bullied, shouted at and even spat at by her Royal Mail manager.

Her rep Lee Wimbourne explained that she had been one of three women at this
particular office who filed complaints - including a complaint of racism -
about their bullying managers, but that the company had failed to properly
discipline any of them, instead sacking her some time later over
"performance" issues.

CWU general secretary Billy Hayes spoke for everyone present when he said:
"Keep strong - we will fight for justice for you" and then urged the
audience: "Just tell these stories that you've heard and there are countless
others of workers being treated in this way by a company that says it values
its workforce."

Billy continued his speech with an overview of the current national dispute
and the reasons for it, setting out the CWU's positive vision of a
modernised postal industry, expanding and improving its services to the
public and providing rewarding and secure employment for its workers.

South West and Thames Valley Branch member Amanda Collick became the second
CWU delegate to "put the politician on the spot" at congress when she
tackled Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband over investment for green jobs.

After an energetic speech from Mr Miliband, in which he laid out the
government's plans to achieve targeted reductions in UK carbon emissions,
the Minister spent a further hour or so answering questions from the
audience, several of which focussed on the recent closure and occupation of
the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight.

On this, Mr Miliband answered by expressing sympathy for the workers who
lost their jobs and claimed that the government had "spent months working
with the company, but they didn't have enough orders because many councils,
including councils on the Isle of Wight, turn down applications for wind
turbines."

Taking up this point in her question, Amanda urged the Minister to recognise
that voluntary initiatives and reliance on market forces would not have any
real impact on halting climate change.

"When will the government commit to a major programme of direct investment
in the creation of public-sector jobs to deliver carbon-neutral housing,
clean and secure renewable energy and an integrated public-sector transport
system that reduces reliance on cars?" she asked.

In his reply, Mr Miliband agreed that "we can't leave it to markets alone"
and pointed to several examples of direct government investment, although he
went on to say that, in the specific case of the Vestas factory, he did not
believe that the government should have taken the facility into public
ownership.

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