Government and Royal Mail 'sideline' the CWU

A leaked document suggests the government and Royal Mail are planning to tough-out the postal strikes. Can you blame them?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The postal service provider and the government stand accused of plotting together to bypass the workers' union to achieve reform ‘with or without union engagement', after a Powerpoint presentation was obtained by the BBC.

The document, as received by the Newsnight team, outlines Royal Mail's plans to fight strike action and to achieve modernisation - with or without the support of the CWU. Royal Mail naturally claims not to recognise the document, although the CWU reckons it's genuine.

It's a case of another day, another sack of nasty mail being lobbed in the back of the Royal Mail van. The workers' union yesterday announced plans for two 24-hour nationwide strikes that will begin on October 22, after talks between union members and the postal bosses stalled.

Not since the miners' strikes of the eighties has there been such an employer/employee stand-off, and the postal workers are now seeking the intervention of independent negotiators to help sort it out. There's a definite ring of the winter of discontent about it all - as if Labour didn't have enough problems.

To be honest the failure to come to any agreement reflects equally badly on both sides. But can you really blame the government for having a plan B, to minimise the fallout of this ill-advised industrial action? After all, calling a strike with two months to go till Christmas seems like suicide, and risks handing the bulk of Royal Mail's business over to its competitors - who will surely gain from the influx of new punters. Amazon has already pulled its £25m-a-year Royal Mail account. How many more will follow?

By way of an interesting postscript, the CWU is claiming that Labour's Lord Mandelson was no stranger the leaked materials. Bill Hayes, general secretary of the CWU, told the BBC that the business secretary appeared to ‘know the document quite well', claiming that Mandy is backing the anti-union tactics in revenge for his failure to part-privatise the organisation.

Mandelson has yet to reply to that particular claim. Perhaps his response got lost in the post.




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