Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The CWU ate my hamster

Today I've been enjoying some of the newspaper headlines around the looming postal strike. As you would expect, many find angles that cast the postal workers' union, the CWU, in a bad light:

Postal strike threat to swine flu vaccination programme

Post strike could hit Christmas military mail

One of the more unlikely front pages was the Daily Mail's - a picture of strike breakers queuing up behind a chain link fence. The full story shows that their concern is simply about who might be getting their grubby mitts on readers' letters:

Royal Mail is hiring thousands of 'strike-breakers' who have not had their references checked or been vetted for criminal records.

The company's decision to bus in 30,000 casual workers, to clear a mail backlog caused by previous strikes and the two-day national stoppage beginning on Thursday has already triggered a furious row.

Now the Mail has learned that they are being hired - on the minimum wage of £5.80 an hour - after only cursory interviews.
I don't know all the ins and outs of the dispute, but I do know that postal workers are low paid, they will not receive strike pay when they are out and that striking will cost them. Yet the high turnout in the strike ballot and the large majority for a strike shows that the workers' grievances - over job cuts, management bullying, workload - are serious. Naturally, I will be showing support on the picket lines tomorrow morning.

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