Unofficial walkouts have taken place at Royal Mail depots across the country. Two forty-eight hours strikes, over pay, flexibility and intimidation, have shown that the workers can bring the whole Royal Mail system virtually to a standstill (anyone who got mail is a scab, by the way - you heard me), and also threatened New Labour's finances since many CWU members aren't happy to keep funding the bullies. However, at the end of this last one involving 130,000 workers, management have apparently engaged in a bit of provocation by changing the workers' attendance times without notification or consultation. As a result, thousands of postal workers are going out to the picket lines this morning. If this spreads, and holds firm, then whatever the union leaders say it will have enhanced the position of the strikers, since it will show that they are not prepared to be bought of with a cheap compromise.
Clearly, this isn't happening only because of management's actions this morning. It reflects anger at the way Royal Mail management have responded at all turns to legitimate claims from the workforce. Adam Crozier, the scumbag in charge of the postal service, has been blustering for the last few days on the national media, presumably hoping he could ride out the latest wave of strikes. However, this isn't coming from Crozier: the pressure for the management's crackdown on pay and conditions is coming from the government, and the question it eventually comes back to is whether the government is prepared for a prolonged battle with the unions at the moment. Brown has certainly given himself time to do so now that he has ruled out an election. And he probably expects that union leaders will be more at ease with him than with Blair. The other question is, are the workers prepared for such a fight, to the extent that they will ignore orders from their union leaders? I suppose we're finding out: the frontline of British industrial relations is outside your local Royal Mail depot this morning.
Incidentally, the number one story on BBC News right now is that David Cameron says Gordon Brown looks like a phoney. Later today it will be updated with 'Brown Hits Back at Double-Phoney Cameron'. And the whole charade will unfold with tedious inevitability.