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The Fight of Our Lives

The CWU's upcoming ballot in Royal Mail isn't just a fight against management attacks on workers' terms and conditions – it's a battle for the future of the postal service itself.

Sometimes you have to fight for the things that are worth fighting for, Royal Mail Group and its dedicated employees are absolutely worth fighting for.

Royal Mail is a public service, it is one of the greatest inventions of our social history, ensuring complete social inclusion for all, regardless of whether you live by the seaside, in a village, town or city, a postal worker will get to you six days a week at a standard price. Everyone is equal.

Postal workers have been an emergency service to many in need when no-one else would have been there. It is a beloved service that the public did not want privatised and is as relevant today as it was 500 years ago. This vital service, if left undefended, will be lost to greed.

It was fully privatised in 2015 and we have been anticipating the current attacks ever since. All privatisations start with the same promises – better service, investment and jobs. However, the reality is totally the opposite.

It starts with the general analysis that the organisation is too labour intensive, the workers are overpaid and the union is too restrictive, and then they build a strategy to attack all of those issues because they are the fortresses that hold back what becomes the only priority – pure profit.

Profit comes before people and service every time. Narratives and situations are created to justify major attacks on service expectation, jobs, terms and conditions, and cost-cutting initiatives because of the claim that the service is in crisis, all in the interest of increasing shareholder dividends.

A dedicated workforce with a massive vocational sense of purpose are suddenly accused of being lazy and overpaid, pension schemes have to close, agreements made in good faith are torn up and the trade union which has dealt with huge major change over the years is suddenly accused of being a ’70s union and unreasonable.

A Royal Mail Group board free from democratic accountability handed the keys of this Great British institution to a new CEO, a multi-millionaire German national who lives in Switzerland, gave him around £6 million tax-free as a golden hello and a reward package of circa £2.7 million.

Rico Back, this ‘Mr. Greedy,’ has been credited with building a parcel network across Europe with employee terms and conditions described by an investigative journalist as “modern-day slavery.” The board have their man, the perfect advocate of greed with absolutely no emotional attachment to the heritage of this wonderful public service having never experienced a Great British postal worker delivering to his home.

We know how this ends, services will be worsened and cherry-picked, parts of the company will be outsourced, the Universal Service Obligation will be reduced, prices will go up, employee terms and conditions will be reduced, thousands of decent jobs will be lost and shareholders will clean up – unless we choose to fight.

Royal Mail is famous for one great robbery and the Communication Workers Union and its members will fight to ensure it does not become famous for an even greater one. Reflect on all of the public services that have been ruined by privatisation and greed, put people before profit and support your postal workers.

Yes, some things are worth fighting for and we will fight until the end.