“Get past the bullshit” – CWU defiant after Royal Mail strike verdict
The CWU has said it is not afraid to re-ballot its members again and again in its dispute with Royal Mail.
In a stirring speech to members, CWU deputy general secretary postal Terry Pullinger said: “We had the appeal last week and I don’t suppose anybody had too many bets on us winning that appeal. The legal system in this country is being questioned seemingly every day now and there was no surprise to us there.
“There were three judges on that appeal and as I understand it, they took two minutes to make a ruling that they would not uphold our appeal.
“We still haven’t had the legal definition of why and we need to receive that before we look at any question of re-balloting and how we would re-ballot. So, that situation is in process, we’re hoping to have that at some point this week so we can analyse what the three judges said about our appeal.
“But, to be honest with you, we were already out on the road. We’ve recovered from the injunction. This union is as solid as ever and that has stunned Royal Mail.
“I want to talk to you about how the dynamics of this dispute are suddenly changing. So, I would say to everyone, get past the bullshit of all the legal stuff because that’s what it is. We all know we’ve been stitched up.
“We all know that it’s the millionaires and the establishment and the legislative people that are stopping trade unionists. But like I say, it’s being questioned in many other places as well.
“So let’s get past that and ask: ‘Has that weakened our position in this dispute?’ And you have to look at The Art of War that we’re involved in here and it isn’t just about taking days of strike action, which is putting pressure on this business.
“So the other aspect is that people will know that Royal Mail went out with their half-yearly results. And that was not received at all well by the market or by the investors, because Royal Mail were way off delivering their plan to what they suggested they would do this year.
“And the reason for that is is, is you, is this union – staying strong, solidarity, standing there as one block and saying: ‘We’ve been here most of our lives, building this industry, shaping this industry. We’re the biggest single block of shareholders – you are, our members – and we are not letting someone come in here and only been here 18 months and railroad us into plans that we haven’t agreed and have not been agreed with this trade union’.
“And I think there’s a lack of experience there, among people at the highest level in Royal Mail. Most of those decision-makers have never had to deal with a trade union, especially one with a membership as loyal as ours and as solid as ours.
“So we’re in a really strong position, because suddenly the penny is starting to drop with Royal Mail. They know they’re not going to achieve anywhere near their plan if they don’t sit down and work with this trade union and negotiate with this trade union and do a proper agreement with this trade union.
“And that penny, in my opinion, is starting to drop, because they are now getting challenged by investors and shareholders etc. And I tell you what’ll happen, where we stay strong, even when we have knock-backs or whatever – we re-group, you know it’s not how you fall down, it’s how you get back up.
“Where we do that so well, they won’t do that, trust me – they’ll start eating each other. The board will start turning on the CEO and the senior managers – ‘What’s going on here?’ – especially if the investors turn on them, which they already are.
“And then the other opinion-formers will start saying: ‘What’s happened to Royal Mail in 18 months?’ because the share price will keep plummeting and that is a major pressure point on them.
“So, it’s not just about strikes and if we need to, as well, we will re-ballot and of course we’re making those plans now.
“But what we’ve also done of course, is we’ve asked them, they’ve said they’re open to talks and, as you know, we put an open letter – which everyone of you will hopefully had the opportunity to see – where we have said: ‘We’ll come back into negotiations as long as they’re going to be serious negotiations’.
“And what we have said, specifically, is we’re going to do that, then firstly we’re not going back into the dispute resolution process – we’ve done all that. We’ve done the meditation – these talks are to resolve this dispute.
“Now that should be acceptable to them, if they want to seriously sit down and make an agreement to resolve this dispute.
“The other thing is that they take away this threat that they’ve got over our members in Parcelforce. Take that threat away whilst we have negotiations and we’ll see where we can get in the talks.
“And we’ve also said how we should professionally structure those talks. The company should have no problem with that. If they’re serious about talks, they need to come back to us because they’ve not responded to that letter.
“We had a letter from Rico Back, which just said they’re ‘open for talks’ but it is evident now, that that letter wasn’t intended for us – that was a letter that they could hold up when they were announcing their poor half-yearly results, to demonstrate to investors that they still wanted to talk to us.
“So, another stunt. We want a proper formal response – and if they do that, and it we go into proper talks, then of course the situation changes and hopefully we would be heading in the right direction.
“I think it’s going to happen, because I seriously believe that they’re now starting to recognise that if they don’t deal with us, they are not going to split us from our membership.
“And my message to you is: ‘Solidarity all the way, stay strong, stay together, stay with your trade union. And whatever decisions we have to make over the next few weeks, you stick with us and I promise you, they will eventually be forced into negotiations with this trade union, because if they don’t, then they’re going to be seen as the people that have got it all wrong in this organisation when the pressure builds from shareholders, opinion-formers, the press and also the board itself because these people are coming under pressure.
“There was no need for this. If they had continued the momentum and the deployment of our agreement, we would be in a far better position on the half-yearly results than we are now.
“Purely because of their arrogance and their determination to just make this union obedient – which we will never be.
“So, there you are, Royal Mail, we’re up for talks, serious talks, get back to us, confirm those points that we’ve raised with you, and we can start setting up a structure for those talks.
“If they don’t, and if we still don’t get a response from Royal Mail, then, once we get the full ruling that was made by the there judges in the Appeal Court, we can then sit down and structure our re-ballot because we will re-ballot, and we will re-ballot again, and again and again.
“This union is not going away. I want to thank every single one of you for your support. It’s going to pay dividends for you, because your support and us staying solid, as a nation of postal workers, will enable this trade union, as it has always done, to protect your job security, your standard-of-living security, your retirement security and protect this great public service.”
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