Friday, 18 March 2011

Trade Unions start to get behind the movement against cuts in Cornwall

The Cornwall Amalgamated Branch of the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) held its Annual General Meeting last night in Redruth. As well as the branch officials, the meeting of about 40 unit reps and lay members heard from Carl Maden from the Postal Executive.

Carl spoke about the privatisation threat that Royal Mail is currently facing and of the problems we face in getting either Lib Dems or Conservative MPs to rebel. He also spoke of the need to get our MPs to sign the Early Day Motion EDM 1408 on the universal service obligation. This is the fact that Royal Mail currently has an obligaion to deliver a letter to any address in the country for one standard price. According to the Postal Services Bill (2010) this must be retained in any new private version of the company, but only for two years! Even the EDM only calls on it to stay for five years.

He also spoke about a recent vote of 93% in favour of strike action from our colleagues in Post Office Limited and the attacks on our pension scheme, including changing the measurement of calculation of increase from the Retail Price Index to the Consumer Price Index measure of inflation, meaning our members will lose thousands of pounds of what are, in effect, deferred wages.

Three motions were also heard. The first two concerned merging the branch with nearby Plymouth branch. The meeting decided to leave the branch structure as it is. Motion three concerned the Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance (CACA). The meeting heard from the proposer that CACA is an alliance of trade unions, campaign groups and individuals who campaign against privatisation, job losses and cuts to the public sector. It contains members from NUT, Unison, GMB, PCS and CWU.

The meeting was also told that the last TUC Conference passed two motions: one calling the demonstration in London on March 26, which everyone present was urged to attend, and one on united action, including strike action, which we are beginning to see with the UCU lecturers' union going on strike over the next seven days and the NUT teachers' union ballotting for action too.

It was also explained that CACA are organising a public meeting in April, which would be a golden opportunity to speak to the public about the 'Keep the Post Public' Campaign. There would also be a Cornwall-wide demonstration in May. Again this would be an opportunity to protest against government attacks but with the support of other unions, campaigns and the general public.

There then followed a short discussion in which no-one spoke against the motion. The branch secretary spoke in favour and the motion passed unanimously. The motion resolves that the branch will affiliate to CACA, give a donation from the political fund, publicise CACA events to all members and send delegates to meetings and actions. Later in the meeting the branch secretary committed to coming to the next CACA meeting and gained permission for the branch to have a banner made. Lots of people took away leaflets about the coaches going to the TUC demo in London on March 26.

If a motion of this sort can be passed unanimously by the CWU in Cornwall then there is every reason to hope that other unions can be persuaded to affiliate and donate to CACA too. There is every reason to be hopeful that the unions will get fully behind the ant-cuts movement here as elsewhere.

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