The Communication Workers Union is to ballot all its 180,000 members in Royal Mail, Parcelforce and the Post Office for industrial action. Seven thousand members in RoMEC, the branch of the postal service that is responsible for cleaning and buildings maintenance, face transfer into a joint venture with discredited PFI giant Balfour Beatty.
All CWU postal members wherever they work have an interest in stopping the RoMEC joint venture and it is important that there is a decisive vote for action in the ballot due in the last week of August.
A yes vote will mean the first national strike of the entire postal service since 1971. With jobs in Royal Mail delivery services still under threat, the fight to keep RoMEC within the Post Office is an opportunity to again make the case for a publicly owned and integrated postal service that meets both the needs of the public and job security for the workforce.
The experience of joint ventures in the communications industry is that any guarantees quickly become void and the impetus for a joint venture eventually becomes a full blown sell off.
"Loyal and typically long serving employees in RoMEC have their pensions threatened, their job security put at risk and their trade union representation put into jeopardy," said CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes. "It amounts to a charter for employers to side-step agreements they have reached with trade unions which they no longer wish to honour."
The dispute over ROMEC comes in the context of the Union fighting government supported liberalisation of the postal industry. The calling of this timely dispute by a newly elected Postal Executive is welcome. All CWU members and activists must ensure that the stance against the sell off is followed through at all levels of the Union.
The ballot result will be announced on 12 September.