Friday, 11 January 2008

Burslem Postal Strike Latest

Brother S and me got our sorry behinds down to the picket line of the striking postal workers in Burslem this morning, and we were very well received. We distributed copies of the latest local bulletin, Postal Worker News (produced by postal workers who are Socialist Party members and supporters), and talked about post office closures, the incompetence of the 200 managers drafted in to cover Burslem during the strike, and other local issues around the hospital and Keele University. If anything, there is a stiffening resolve on the part of the strikers to stick it out. Since this round of strike action began one worker who was giving evidence against the suspended 12 has changed their mind, aware the suspensions are being used as a pretext to break one of the most militant CWU branches in the country. Other workers who've previously been in the background and were a bit unsure of themselves are now coming to the fore. And postal workers across North Staffordshire are now being balloted for solidarity strike action.

But the Burslem posties still need your support. Messages and donations can be sent to "Defend the Burslem 12", CWU Midland No.7 Branch, Lindsay Street, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 4EP. All should be marked "Defend the Burslem 12". Cheques are payable to CWU Midland No.7 Branch. Solidarity messages can be emailed to with copies to (remove the NOSPAMs). Any solidarity messages left in the comments box will be forwarded.

The CWU has also called a march for the victimised postal workers for Saturday, 19th January. Assemble at 1:30pm at Burslem Delivery Office in Scotia Road, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. Rally at Hanley Museum afterwards.

Below is the text for Postal Worker News 5

Growing Solidarity
Royal Mail bosses badly misjudged the mood of Burslem postal workers. With all elected CWU reps in the [suspended] 12 they hoped to impose changes. The 79 to 2 secret ballot vote to continue the action at last Monday's meeting was further confirmation of the unity and solidarity that has strengthened during this dispute.

This scale of victimisation is an attack on suspended and sacked workers, on all postal workers, and the right of the CWU to continue to represent its members. If Royal Mail get away with this, who will be next?

All postal workers must vote yes in the area ballot. Wider action is clearly necessary to force Royal Mail to agree an Independent Review of all these cases.

Vote yes to widen the fight for justice

Reinstate all victimised postal workers

Defend CWU's right to represent postal workers

No to privatisation

Building Support on the Streets!
We asked Andy Bentley, Area Organiser of the Socialist Party about the regular solidarity stalls.

Why are these stalls important?
They are an excellent way to explain what's really going on at Burslem and gives people an opportunity to show their support. When people have the real facts explained then the majority support the strike.

Who signs the Reinstate Victimised Burslem Postal Workers petition?
Mainly ordinary working class people. At the last stall in Hanley, we had two young bricklayers who were not union members but would now consider joining up, and a Hanley firefighter who remembered the support we had given when they were on strike in 2002. A young woman, who works at Hanley M&S not only signed but after learning how Burslem posties were fighting back asked how she could join a union because of "the shit I get at work". So we sent her a form to join USDAW, which Mick, a postie from Burslem, got for us. A nurse told us of "the stress and intimidation that NHS workers suffer" and returned 10 minutes later with four family members to sign the petition! A young MDEC worker told us "Burslem postal workers are and inspiration to us all. They have my support. I haven't bothered to join the CWU yet because they don't fight back enough, but I'm going to now". A First bus driver, after signing the petition said "I'm signing this because you were the only ones who supported us when we were on strike. Good luck to the Burslem posties, we need to stand together more".

Have other postal workers signed?
Yes, from Longton, Stoke, Biddulph, Kidsgrove, Cheadle, Leek, Stafford, Sandbach, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, Kent, and London. All were angry about the deal and how managers are already trying to impose changes. All the locals said they would vote for wider strike action in support of Burslem.

Have those signing been able to help in any way?
Definitely. Firstly, by being part of the 6,000 who've signed it has allowed us to get coverage in The Sentinel to show how strong the support is. Secondly, all get a leaflet explaining the facts and are encouraged to pass them on to friends, neighbours, workmates, etc. One woman took away a petition and got it filled in where she works. And thirdly, many are now making donations to the strike fund. These are not people with money to burn but ordinary working class people who want to donate pennies and pounds to support postal workers at Burslem. All workers should see how ordinary people will sacrifice hard-earned money to support others prepared to fight back. A woman in her 60s told us how she cared for her handicapped son 24 hours a day. She obviously didn't have much money but she handed over a fiver to support the strike. What a breath of fresh air compared to the bosses' politics of 'cash for peerages'.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
All these examples show that where we explain things, the overwhelming majority support the strike action. This allows us to cut across the rubbish in the local press. Most frustrating for us is that as yet we are a small organisation and cannot reach as many people as we would like to. But that will change in the future.


Phil said...

To add, some good coverage in Socialist Worker this week. See it here

Anonymous said...

hi phil

do you know if the burslem posties have recieved a letter of support and cash from medway trades council yet?

im assured it on its way

Phil said...

I'll ask tonight Brother A.