Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why has Sinn Féin released no statement on the Postal Workers dispute?

XXXX Since this post went up the Sinn Féin national site has a piece on Martina Anderson visiting the striking workers last Friday. The statement can be read in the comments section. XXXXXXXXX

As of 11 O'clock today I have not seen any statement by Sinn Féin as to where it stands on the Royal mail postal workers dispute. Also in the last few weeks I have seen no mention of the dispute in Nuacht na nOibrithe in An Phoblacht. Why is this? Sinn Féin in the South have been very vocal and active in our support for workers in their struggles for jobs and fair treatment. Our support for Coca -Cola workers, Thomas Cooke workers and the Dublin dockers has shown clearly where we stand.

However, a major dispute is now taking place in the North and we have no statement or show of support for these workers. We are a major political force in the North and as such we should use that strenght to demonstrate to the Postal workers that we support their reasonable demands to be consulted on changes work practices and no compulsory redundancies.

Below is some information on the dispute and I would ask that party memebers contact the head office and ask for a party statement asap showing our support for the postal workers. Remember in an attempt to break this dispute the management are threatening to bring in 30,000 scab workers. This is a disgrace and must be opposed.

Belfast -

This info is taken from a leaflet available on the Communications Workers Union site and there is plenty of info there on the background to the dispute.


Everyone’s talking about modernising the postal industry and we want this too, but Royal Mail is refusing to negotiate change with our union, the CWU. Royal Mail management wants to dictate – we want a say in what goes on.

The company claims mail volumes are down 10 per cent, but also claims that staff levels are down by 30 per cent. According to its figures, we are working 20 per cent harder.

Despite doubled profits – up to £321 million from £169 million – Royal Mail management wants tocut even more jobs, set impossible work targets for remaining staff and put service delivery at risk.

We say no to any compulsory redundancies, fair work measurement and no cuts in service to you.

We’re fighting to defend our rights and your postal service.

Here is a video of a Postal Worker explaining why they are in dispute.


  1. What happened to the SF Trade Union department?


  3. Niall ,

    thanks for the info and I see it went up on the Derry Sinn Féin site on the 26th. So great work from Martina in visiting the workers on the picket line. I still would like to have seen a clearer statement of support, but once again well done Martina.

    I see the statement has now also been put up on the national site so good news. These workers are fighting for the right to have a say in how the company moves forward and I wish them every success.

    Anyway here is the statement from Martina Anderson that is now on the main Sinn Féin site.

    Sinn Féin MLA Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has said failure to reach a resolution in the dispute between Royal Mail and the CWU (Communication Workers Union) will cause serious financial burdens for postal workers and their families and could have devastating consequences for small businesses in Derry and across the North

    Her call comes after meeting with Postal Workers and Union officials on the picket line at the Great James Street Sorting Office during Fridays protest

    Martian Anderson said

    "I spoke to Union officials and met staff on the picket line at the Sorting Office during Fridays protest and they were very angry that things had got to this stage and that some sort of interim resolution could not have been found at the last minute .Many are worried about what the next few weeks will hold if there is an escalation in the strike particularly leading up to Christmas and the financial burden this will place on them and their families. They are fearful of going behind in mortgage payments, HP on cars and not being able to keep up with the general costs of day to day living.

    "There needs to be an immediate meeting between the CWU and Royal Mail .I understand CWU officials have written to Mark Higson, Royal Mail managing director and said they are available for meaningful negotiations to avoid further strike action which they believe would help restore customer confidence at a crucial time for the business while also addressing outstanding problems such as job security, work levels and other issues

    "I fear that if this dispute is not resolved and there is an escalation in industrial action in the weeks leading up to Christmas , everyone will lose, Royal Mail will lose millions in revenue and contracts and postal workers in Derry will be losing wages which no worker can afford in this day and age .

    The public and business community in Derry and across the North will also be severely hit with disruption to postal services, so it's of paramount importance that there is a resolution to this dispute and that both sides can come to an agreement around the issues of modernisation, protection of jobs and pay levels as soon as possible "

  4. Is this supposed to be in support of the strike? Martina does not support the worker's demands or use the opportunity to criticise privatisation but instead promotes the need to 'avoid further strike action', to restore 'consumer confidence', to safeguard the interests of the 'public' and the 'business community'. The first paragraph implicitly lays some of the blame for the industrial action at the feet of the trade union leadership.
    Who is it closer to James Connolly or William Murphy? Connolly spent his whole life trying to organise workers to take strike action to effect a revolution. Murphy was a nationalist of sorts who attacked trade unionists and socialist revolutionaries and ended up demanding the murder of Connolly. Sadly, if you're honest there's only one answer.

  5. Anon, no this statment was done last Friday and echoes the calls being made by the union at that time. They were offering a 3 month moritorium on strike action if proper negotiations were entered into. What Martina has said was bang in line with what the union was saying. just check out the CWU website.

    in relation to now, i agree there needs to be a stronger statement of support issued.

  6. I agree SF should be unequivocal in its support for postal workers. The workers, knowing the biased reporting of the MSM, are more than willing to negotiate. I've been reading their own blog and their stance is almost defensive due to current circumstances. If anything, the govt UK lead by Machiavelli Mandleson wanted the workers to strike so that the media machine could portray the workers in a bad light and allow Labour forge ahead with privitisation. Labour badly need to appease business interests as they've so kind to the banks of late and other business people want some sweeties too.

    By the way, has a time and date been set for this revolution I keep reading about? Is there a dress code?

  7. Starry. A trade union has to make defensive formulations for strategic reasons not so political parties. What's needed is real solidarity with striking workers not watery social worker speak. Industrial action does not fall from the sky - it needs to lead to politicisation and more worker's struggle. Yet what we're seeing is an approach which calls for an end to the disruption, restoring business confidence and avoiding any discussion about privatisation.
    tgmac. Agree entirely about new Labour's approach; this is hatched to push privatisation and they have the union in a hard place - but does that mean you shouldn't be clear in supporting workers outright. They are trying to break CWU like they broke NUM - they are the most militant and strongest. Republican socialists should support workers in struggle. I don't get it. It's even more inexplicable as this is not a dispute where SF Ministers are involved but caused by the British government. Where's the cost apart from the risk of losing some middle-class support?
    As for the revolution, there'll never be one so long unless socialists support workers increased militancy and politicisation.

  8. Anon, I have heard this talk for decades. Everytimne i have ever opened a copy of the Socialist worker etc it talks about this great struggle or that great struggle and has pointed to various disputes as currently leading to mass politicisatin of the workforce. Yet if this were actually the case then surely by now we would have a socialist utopia. The past 40 years of industrial disputes etc would have a massively politicised workforce smashing down the walls of capitalism.

    Yet we haven't.

    The fact is most workforces have little or not time for tiny groups of leftists jumping onto the bandwagon of their dispute. Working people have their just demands for job security, a descent wage and seek to be treated with respect.

    What i see is Martina showing support for what the union was asking for at that time. Now that has moved on and Sinn Féin should show clear support for the postal workers demands.

  9. starry plough agree with the sentiment of your last post there though just like to add have been impressed with the concept of support groups for strikes as a way to get around anti trade union laws. there was republicans invovled in the dockers support group and iam sure other groups as well but its a practical way political parties can help in modern times.


  10. The core issue here isn't whether SF should support a particular union. The core issue is protecting all worker's rights in the face of NLC doctrine. We, the general public, used to be fed the bullshite that privitisation of public services created some mythical efficiency. We know that is nothing more than attempt on the one hand to give almost gauranteed cash flow to a few already wealthy individuals and on the other hand actually reduce tax intake by our elected governments so that these already wealthy individuals don't have to pay taxes to support public services. We have many examples where privitsation has lead to reduced wages for workers; fragmentation of services; or when a service is deemed to be a broadly social necessary service it carries annual cost increases.

    Industry specific Unions exist for one sole purpose - to negotiate en masse in order to better their membership's lives materially. They don't need governments or political parties to be involved in this process. They just need to legal room to be able to carry their agenda forward. They, imo, shouldn't be involved in the national agreement plans which only serve to divide the leadership from the membership.

    It is up to political parties to generate policies that address the political economy with regard to worker's rights and methods of value distribution.

    What is missing is a method of getting socialist information out into the wider worker world. The first step, imo, is getting some sort of socialist business policy implemented which proves its own efficacy in combatting poverty and empowering a community of workers.

  11. starry plough re: Martina's statement and subordinating to the TU - the tail doesn't wag the dog. I'm not sure who said it, but it seems all too correct: "Trailing after the big bourgeoisie is the historic error of social democracy." This isn't calling for ultraleftism, rather beginning to give a political voice to Labour in the north.

    That said, the statement is welcome and the visit to the strikers, and I haven't seen a statement from any of the other parties.