Workers should look at “co-ordinated action” over company profits, CWU says

Katie Neame

Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward has said workers should be looking at “co-ordinated action” over the “blatant profiteering” of companies across the country amid a first day of strike action by postal workers.

Approximately 115,000 CWU members who work for the Royal Mail Group are expected to walk out today in a dispute over pay and conditions, in what the union said would be the “biggest strike of summer so far”. Further action is planned for August 31st, September 8th and September 9th.

Asked on Sky News this morning whether he would back a general strike, Ward said: “I’m not here to talk about a general strike.” But the union leader stressed that “every worker’s in the same position” across the UK.

He told viewers: “We should be looking at co-ordinated action. We should be looking to raise issues around the way that UK companies are being run, the blatant profiteering that’s taking place across the UK. Because not only are the workforce being ripped off here, but also customers are being ripped off.

“These are the people who are causing the spiralling inflation that’s going on. And something’s got to be done about the way that UK businesses operate.”

“Royal Mail is right at the top of that list at the moment. We’ve got our sights on them. It is time, if these people are really only interested in further profits for themselves, then they should resign,” Ward declared.

CWU members voted by almost 98% on a 77% turnout to take strike action in a recent ballot. The union is demanding that the Royal Mail Group gives workers a “dignified, proper pay rise” that covers the rising cost of living.

Ward said today: “Our members are really really angry, and they’ve lost all confidence in the leadership of the company.” He emphasised that Royal Mail had made “record profits” of £758m last year and that the company chose to give away more than £400m to shareholders.

He added that Royal Mail executives had “rewarded themselves with huge record bonuses, apparently for achieving all their financial targets”.

“Then they imposed a 2% pay increase on the workforce. And against sky-rocketing inflation, energy bills rocketing, people are just not going to accept that,” Ward said.

The union leader declared: “What’s really a shame here is that this is a group of workers in the UK that we would argue are one of the last remaining pillars of our society. They’re part of the social fabric of the UK.

“They have a fantastic relationship with customers which is the company’s greatest asset. And it is unbelievable that the company have chosen to treat our members in this way. So we’re going to fight very hard here to get the pay rise that our members deserve.”

Asked in an LBC interview this morning whether Labour supported the postal workers’ strike, Rachel Reeves said: “I’ve been in touch with posties in Leeds. I know how hard they work, how committed they are to serving their local communities.

“They are undertaking strike action because Royal Mail, who continue to make big profits, are refusing to sit down with their trade union, the CWU. I would urge the Royal Mail to rethink that, to sit down with our hard-working posties and resolve this.”

Pressed on whether the party supports the strike, the Shadow Chancellor added: “I stand by our posties, who are asking for better pay and terms and conditions, because of energy prices.

“And what the government should be doing is addressing that, so that people – whether that’s posties or railway workers or nurses – have more money in their pockets. That’s what the government should be doing. That’s what a Labour government would do.”

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