At the Picket Line

This post was written by Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on October 22, 2009
Posted Under: News,Trade Unions

My interview a CWU activist

There were not loads of people out this morning. As I wandered up, I saw a few of them – but without flags or banners.

The mood at the picket line this morning was one of  of seriousness and determination. When workers tell you they don’t like having to go on strike they really do mean it. It is not an easy time to be taking industrial action. As one sorting office worker put it, “I”ve told the kids that christmas has been cancelled, that’s how much I believe in this strike, and they know that I am doing the right  thing. ”

Strike 012And the posties I spoke to really do believe in this strike. It is not just that they have been backed into a corner by bullying and harrassment, the threat of reduncancies and the refusal of management to negotiate. For the people I spoke to, this strike touches on far broader issues – not least the maintainence of decent jobs for people outside of society’s golden circle. As one activist put it to me, “Not everyone is going to leave school and become a teacher, a doctor , a surgeon or a journalist. Alot of people end up becoming manual workers and some of those manual workers end up in the post office. And why shouldn’t those people have a future, and a decent opportunity to bring their families up, the same way as politicians do?”

Strike 014Too right. But how prepared are the postmen and women for the protracted conflict that will surely be necessary to protect these jobs? How far can they be expected to hold out against a management that is clearly taking an aggressive stance. One CWU activist I spoke to described a ‘seige mentality’  amongst the membership. ” Some of us are on £300 a week, they [the management] are on £3 million” he said. “There’s a saying, and don’t like it, but if we all spit at once they’d drown in it.”

The strike itself was absolutely successful in shutting down the sorting centre. So desperate were the management that we were treated to the curious site of a tiny number of (presumably important) packages being smuggled into the back of a private car.

Strike 005

Tomorrow the pickets are out again and are expected to be far bigger. So please do get down to your local picket line. These guys are on the front line. Our front line.

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Reader Comments

In the spirit of balanced reporting, can you also do a day during the strike where you report from inside the gates? How management are coping, the temporary workers, their hopes and fears etc. etc?

Written By oberon Houston on October 23rd, 2009 @ 7:14 pm

Oberon, you know us and this medium well enough to realise that we do not claim or aspire to offer balances reporting. This ain’t a news service. In this particular case the anti-union crap that has peppered the maInstream media particularly diminishes any obligation towards “balanced reporting”

Written By Reuben on October 23rd, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

I disagree Reuben, covering both sides doesn’t mean you can’t make your sympathies clear. That’s exactly why I persued a statement from the Home Office and reported their position on the Dana Ali case, even though I strongly believed them to be lying through their teeth. I’m all in favour of covering all sides. It doesn’t have to be for balance. It can be for no reason other than knowing your enemy and making sure your enemy knows they’re being watched by the media.

Written By Salman Shaheen on October 24th, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

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