Last week, it was announced that postal workers had overwhelmingly voted for strike action. 97% voted yes on a 75% turnout. The result has smashed through the Tory anti-trade union laws. This strike has the potential to send shock waves throughout the entire labour movement. Royal Mail management are clearly anxious, trying to assert that “there is no public support” for industrial action. They couldn’t be more wrong – the postal workers strike could become a household topic of discussion once it erupts, because millions of workers will relate to their struggle.
It is in this context that Swansea Marxist Society and Swansea Labour Students hosted a solidarity meeting, at which CWU activist and postal worker Mark Williams explained the situation to students at Swansea University. Whilst most people weren’t yet aware of the dispute, our leafleting and building for the meeting showed that most students and workers were sympathetic to the cause. The solidarity meeting helped us build a base, upon which we hope to build a solidarity campaign that will mobilise students at the university to attend picket lines and demos for the postal workers.
Postal worker Mark Williams kicked off the discussion by describing the exploitative nature of Royal Mail under the management of multi-millionaire CEO Rico Back. Essentially, he wants to bin the relatively stable, unionised jobs and introduce casualised, low pay, insecure contracts, which would ruin the lives of thousands of Royal Mail workers. All this while he rewards himself with multi-million pound bonuses. It is in this context that the posties are gearing up for “the fight of our lives”.
Jack Dunne representing Labour Students highlighted the inspirational and effective campaigning the CWU union undertook at mass meetings at the post office gates and on social media, in order to build support amongst the workers for industrial action. Maciej Krzymieniecki from the Marxist Society explained that the roots of privatisation lie in the capitalist system and its pursuit of profit. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workers, and it is in our interest to support the working class in their struggle . He added that building a campaign around student-worker solidarity in the postal strike could win mass support.
On this basis, the meeting unanimously passed a motion (see below), calling on the Swansea University Students’ Union to take action, be ready to help campaign, raise money, and back a solidarity demonstration on campus that could march and join a bigger one in the city centre.
This will be the biggest industrial dispute in recent memory – a chance for an important section of workers to flex their muscles, realise their power and give an example to workers and students across the country.
A mass, united movement of the working class can shake the system to the core and bring down this Tory government by the rich, for the rich. In reality, the postal workers will be fighting for all workers. The conditions being imposed by management, reflect the direction of the bosses throughout the economy. The CWU has shown the way forward. Your fight is our fight. Solidarity!
Maciej Krzymieniecki, Swansea Marxist Society
Motion passed unanimously:
This meeting notes that:
- The privatisation of Royal Mail has been an unmitigated disaster. The CEO of Royal Mail Rico Back has declared war on the workers by ripping up the “four pillars” of the agreement reached last year.
- Current plans threaten to undermine pay, pensions, and workers’ conditions in an effort to transform Royal Mail into a low pay, zero-hours operation. This will mean a race to the bottom for workers.
- Despite admitting to knowing nothing about Royal Mail before taking the job, Back awarded himself a £6 million bonus as he took the job on.
This meeting believes that:
- The privatisation of Royal Mail reflects the relentless pursuit of profit that characterises the capitalist system.
- Students have faced the same brunt of privatisation and marketisation. Rising costs of housing, marketisation of education and the exploitative character of part-time, precarious work has led to a mood of frustration and despair.
- Only mass action can put an end to this. The striking workers will come under intense pressure from the media, politicians, and big business. The interests of students are the same as those of workers, and it is our responsibility to cut across this and build solidarity. We must unite against our common enemies – austerity, the Tories, and the capitalist system.
This meeting resolves to:
- Support the decision of CWU workers to go on strike – a 97% vote on 75% turnout. We extend our solidarity with the postal workers and offer our active support on the picket lines.
- Call on Swansea University Student’s Union, as the leading body of students, to support the strike by all means possible. This includes raising awareness, donating to the strike fund, and being prepared to organise a solidarity demonstration on campus that will join a larger protest in the town centre.
- Help Royal Mail workers win this historic fight. A victory for the posties will mean a victory for workers and students everywhere, and an enormous blow against this rotten Tory government.