Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) stands in solidarity with 110,000 UK postal workers, represented by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), who have voted to strike at the Royal Mail Group, which was recently privatized by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.
CWU’s previous “Four Pillars” contract with the Royal Mail Group, agreed upon less than two years ago, provided for pay increases, pension reforms, and a path to a 35-hour standard workweek for all full-time employees with no loss of pay by 2022. This contract was signed following a resounding strike ballot vote that pushed the previous management to make significant concessions.
However, a newly appointed board led by German businessman Rico Back has reneged on the contract and instead moved to break up the Royal Mail Group, seeking to enable investors to strip the company’s assets while dividing its workers with the plan to crush or lay off those who remain. If successful, the new management could break the power of one of the UK’s most militant and socialist unions — but they will not succeed.
In response, the CWU has balloted its members for a strike and won an even larger mandate than last time — a 97.1% “Yes” vote on a 76% turnout. If the strike goes ahead, it could be the largest private-sector strike in recent memory — led by an openly socialist union leadership and backed by a confident mass socialist movement.
DSA stands with the Communication Workers Union, and we stand with postal workers around the UK. We support the CWU demand that efforts to break up the Royal Mail Group be immediately halted and that management ratify a new contract that guarantees full job and retirement security for CWU workers across the Royal Mail Group including pay rises, secure pensions, and a 35-hour workweek by 2022.
We urge workers to stand united in withdrawing their labor if their demands are not met, and wish to communicate our full solidarity to them and their union on behalf of the largest socialist organization in the United States, with more than 55,000 dues-paying members.
DSA also stands with CWU in its fight for a socialist Labour Party government that will introduce democratic public ownership of the postal service and fight for the reduction of working hours with no loss in pay. Toward this end, DSA recognizes and appreciates the support provided to the Labour Party by the CWU as well as by socialist organizers and political education networks within the party, such as Momentum and The World Transformed.
We also demand that postal workers in the already publicly owned United States Postal Service be granted the right to strike to obtain better pay and conditions, and that the USPS be fully funded and democratically controlled by its workers and service users. DSA supports the fight against privatization of the logistics and postal sector, and call for unionization, democratic ownership, and workers’ control over the sector.
DSA further supports the demand for a shorter working week with no loss of pay — an idea which stands in the tradition of the labor movement and its fight for the 8-hour workday and the weekend, and which is a necessary adaptation to climate change, which is exacerbated by a long and carbon-intensive workweek. This idea has recently been floated by DSA-endorsed presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders in the wake of its adoption as Labour Party policy.
We recognize that our struggle is an international one, and that the labor struggles of unions and workers in other countries can help to sharpen and strengthen the political positions of movement candidates in the U.S. DSA recognizes that the CWU’s fight is our fight, as are the fights of workers all around the world — from Ramallah to Santiago to London to Chicago.