Friday, October 12, 2007

Up the Posties.

Wildcat strikes double, causing the Telegraph "mail misery". Socialist Worker has a concise description of the issues behind the official strikes, and interviews one of the wildcat strikers:

“This is clearly not just about start times,” said the worker. “It is about the future of the union and Royal Mail, and it is a fight to the death.

“The only way for the union to win is to take the gloves off, and get the whole of London out, followed by the whole of the country. Then we must stay out until we win.”

Well, the wildcats are already having enough impact to galvanise cross-party support for government intervention into the strike, beyond simply demanding that the strikers get back to work. The government is already involved, so all it has to do is stop trying to impose wage cuts and instruct the management of Royal Mail to stick to previous agreements with the union about working practises. No one-sided flexibility, no pay cuts, and no sackings. Simple as that. It's intriguing to note that many right-wing commentators have taken a pseudo-balanced approach to this dispute: they point out that the posties aren't really to blame, and that the management are taking massive salaries. And then they say, "why don't we privatise it so that we can have an astonishing success like Deutsche Post [which now owns DHL]?" That's always the example that comes up, and it's telling since DP has actually been making some incursions into the UK thanks to the 'liberalisation' measures already introduced (although like Business Post and UK Mail and others, it relies on the Royal Mail's delivery force to bring the mail to the doorstep). Since privatisation won't solve the problems of the postal workers (except possibly by destroying their conditions and reducing them to casualised, de-unionised, low-wage serfs), and since there's no evidence that it will actually improve the service for customers, the only plausible meaning of success is that it made a lot of money. And it is true: DP shareholders have made a frigging fortune. Most of its money doesn't even come from mail delivery, of course, but who gives a shit? There's money being made, and that is officially a success story. The total UK postal market is supposedly worth £5.8bn: who wouldn't want a cut of that? Isn't it wonderful that the very same commentators who constantly blither about the demise of social solidarity, mutual respect and so on, wish to subordinate every last crack and corner of daily life to the cash nexus?