We communists in the South West congratulate Royal Mail delivery workers in Bridgwater on their victory in defending a disabled colleague faced with dismissal. We commend them on walking off the job in defiance of the anti-union laws. In solidarity, we post this stirring message, sent by their Communication Workers’ Union representative, Dave Chapple, to the London “Unite the Resistance” conference, which had invited him to speak. Dave is a member of the Executive Committee of the SW Regional TUC.
Ken Keable, CPB District Secretary, SW England & Cornwall.
Thanks for the invite to speak at your conference, sorry we can’t be there.
We are currently working with 70 Royal Mail managers flown in from as far as Liverpool and Manchester, and put up in nice hotels, to clear the mail backlog from our strike, which won’t be completed till next week.
If your comrades want to add to that backlog, and keep us in work, by actually using your local letter box and posting solidarity messages on your union branch headed notepaper to:
“Dave Chapple, CWU, Bridgwater”, that would be great.
We are hoping to set up an on-line petition to Moya Greene, just to keep up the momentum of public support, which, especially from white collar and professional trade unionists, and disabled people, has been overwhelming.
I have to say, though: where is our working-class movement in its social as well as political sense?
Our wildcat strike was to get the case for Andrew Mootoo’s reinstatement back on Royal Mail’s agenda: we’ve done that.
I am so proud of Bridgwater Royal mail CWU members: how many workplaces would walk out in illegal solidarity with someone they haven’t seen in work for 18 months?
The strike lasted into two days rather than our intended 4 hours because some tosser, who has now probably lost his job, decided to threaten me with suspension when we returned.
That threat lasted all of one day: we went back together yesterday and no one was suspended.
We will see if Royal Mail stick to their promise to have a serious re-think about not reinstating our friend and comrade Andrew Mootoo, who, despite having MS and being profoundly deaf, wants to come back to work for as long as he can.
If they break their promise to take his case seriously, I think we will be out again.
We are honestly undecided about asking our union leaders for a legal strike ballot: the trouble is, in Royal Mail, when we strike legally we end up with a messy draw, when we walk out we usually win!
What the Trade Union Bill highlights, is not just the need to take reasonable risks where we are strong enough, but also a strategy to re-build strong workplaces in every town and city, a movement so strong that it could bring the country out and to a halt even with our hostile media.
So get up and re-form that workplace union committee, even if it has to meet in secret off-site.
Have that half-hour union meeting just before or after your shift.
Have that 15-minute meal-break union chat in the canteen.
When you are strong enough, go back from that meal-break meeting ten minutes late and go slow for the rest of the week if they dock you ten minutes pay!
And if you want to have a glimpse of what workers’ control could look like, come down to Friarn St, Bridgwater Somerset, anytime!
Many militant speeches have been made recently by union leaders threatening to defy the law.
What General Secretaries need to do to follow this up, is drop whatever meetings they are in, and get down to those illegal picket lines!
Many militant speeches have also made reference to those usual historical subjects: the suffragettes, anti-nuclear and anti-war protesters, Civil Rights, Women’s rights, Stonewall.
What hasn’t been mentioned was the greatest of these direct action revolts.
In 1831 slavery was legal in the British Empire and to defy it was not just illegal but punishable by death.
Sam Sharpe led a slave revolt in Jamaica that year which was savagely put down with hundreds of slave rebels slain by British soldiers and Maroons: but the writing was left on the wall; the white planter class realised their time was up, and slavery WAS abolished, because enough slaves were prepared to lose all to win the future for comrades they had never seen.
In the words of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown: refuse to lose.
When hundreds in Bridgwater refuse to lose, we can have a local temporary success;
When thousand of us refuse to lose, we can have lasting improvements;
When millions refuse to lose, stop whatever they are doing and sit down in the streets for the duration, THEN we will win!
Solidarity to the Unite the Resistance conference from ciderland.
Bridgwater Royal Mail Delivery Office