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The News Line: News TAKE ACTION NOW! – POA calls for one-day general strikes
Postal workers on the picket line at Bow E3 delivery office in east London during last year’s strike action over low pay and the threat of 40,000 sackings in Royal Mail
The Prison Officers Association is calling for a series of one-day general strikes to force the repeal of the anti-union laws.

Its motion on Trade Union Freedom to next week’s TUC Congress in Brighton declares: ‘Congress places on record its appreciation to all those academic lawyers and MPs who sought to take the Trade Union Freedom Bill through the Parliamentary process, but expresses its disbelief at the Labour Government which chose to talk the Bill out of time, in order to ensure that the Bill fell.

‘This act of “political sabotage” is unworthy of any Government, but particularly a Labour Government.’

It continues: ‘In fact, Government has taken even more draconian legislative action to stifle trade unions.

‘Therefore, Congress instructs the TUC to organise a series of one-day general strikes until such time as the Government removes the restrictive anti-trade union legislation from statute.’

Brian Caton, the POA general secretary told News Line yesterday that efforts had been made, unsuccessfully, to get the POA to withdraw the motion.

He said: ‘It will upset the TUC bureaucracy and the New Labour government.

‘But the trade unions have appealed for 30 years to all governments without success.

‘Members have decided it’s time for the working class to take things into its own hands.’

At the same time the CWU (Communication Workers’ Union) revealed yesterday that it is balloting for strike action at 17 Mail Centres across the UK.

The news emerged in a CWU statement condemning Royal Mail’s announcement that it intends to close major mail centres in the North West.

The union warned that ‘thousands of jobs are at risk’.

The CWU statement said: ‘The industrial action ballots affect 17 mail centres across the country at: Bolton, Coventry, Crewe, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Oxford, Reading, Southend, Swindon, Thames Valley, The Mount, Chelmsford, Manchester, Oldham, Preston and Stockport.

‘Further details regarding the ballots will be released once the process gets underway.
‘No dates or decisions are currently available.’

Watford CWU branch secretary Alan Walsh told News Line: ‘We should be balloting for a national action.
‘Our office is not immediately affected but Milton Keynes are being balloted.

‘These Mail Centre closures are a massive threat to everyone.

‘We should be balloting for national action about the closures, pensions and the new Pegasus working arrangements, which are an attack on conditions.

‘Personally, I don’t think we should have called off the national strike last year.’

Commenting on the North West closures plan, CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said yesterday: ‘This is a deeply unpopular and controversial announcement which breaks an understanding between Royal Mail and the CWU and puts around 7,000 jobs at risk.’

He added: ‘The company needs to work in cooperation with the workforce and the union at a national level, but we have been inundated with industrial action requests as a result of the company’s actions.

‘These announcements will not detract the CWU from continuing its preparations to achieve a national agreement covering all aspects of rationalisation.

‘The CWU will not hesitate to use whatever means are necessary in order to achieve these objectives on behalf of our members.’

CWU south central No1 branch HP section chairman Rob Bolton said: ‘While we support the ballot of all mail centres threatened with closure, we must demand that all mail centres are kept open.

‘It is not enough that our union leaders are using the ballot as a threat to Royal Mail – that unless they negotiate we’ll call strike action.

‘Who is to say which centres should be kept open and which ones should be allowed to shut? The CWU have a duty to fight to defend all mail centres and delivery offices.’


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