Sunday, 10 June 2007

Battle Stations: CWU vote for Strike!

Over 77 per cent of members who voted in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) ballot this past week have voted in favour of taking industrial action over Gordon Brown's pay freeze.

The ballot result reflects the massive anger and growing disillusionment among postal workers not only over Gordon Brown's pay offer of 2.5%, which compared to the latest inflation figures of 4.5% is effectively a pay cut, but also privatisation of the postal service and an increasingly aggressive management.

With a turnout of 67% and an overwhelming majority for strike action, it also signals an imminent set-piece battle between the CWU and Royal Mail.

Jane Loftus, a member of RESPECT, soon to be President of CWU, said "This is a brilliant result which shows that all sections of the postal workforce have defied intense pressure from management and shown their faith in the union."

The mood in the country is for united action, and RESPECT encourages this unity. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has a policy of joining forces with other public sector unions calling for industrial action, and Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS (& member of RESPECTs National Council) has written to the CWU to express his solidarity.

There should be no mistake that Management will do everything in their power to undermine CWU efforts and undercut support for a strike.

RESPECT members and supporters need to be ready to build solidarity and provide whatever support is needed by CWU members, including spreading information about the vote, inviting CWU activists to address RESPECT meetings and building on opportunities for united action on this issue.

RESPECT congratulates the CWU and expresses its full support for any industrial action that takes place.

Urgent! Solidarity with Iraqi Workers

The following was issued as a press release by Naftana, an independent UK-based committee supporting democratic trade unionism in Iraq. The leader of the Basra Oil Workers' Union spoke powerfully at the Stop the War Coalition's UK conference against the occupation and privatisation two years ago.

Iraq's powerful oil workers' trade union today expressed alarm as an arrest warrant was issued for its leaders, in an attempt to clamp down on industrial action.

Members of the union have been on strike since Monday 4th June, in protest at the government's failure to meet any of its promises made in a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on 16th May.

The union's 16 demands included improvements to wages, health and other working and living conditions as well as consultation on the proposed oil law, which the union opposes.

The union added a 17th demand yesterday demanding the sacking of the General Manager of the Southern Pipeline Company.

On Tuesday, al-Maliki warned that he would meet threats to oil production "with an iron fist". The arrest warrant, based on a charge of "sabotaging the economy" specifically names Hassan Juma'a Awad, the leader of the 26,000-strong Federation of Oil Unions, and three other leaders of the Federation.

Hassan Juma'a commented, "the government is intimidating the union but we are determined to gain our legitimate rights." He added that the strike would continue in accordance with the union's plan.

The strike entered its third day today and is in its "second phase," which now includes the closure of the main distribution pipelines, including supplies to Baghdad. "Phase one" closed some of the smaller distribution pipelines. Phases one and two did not include production and exports.

The union is calling on all its supporters and unions across the world to back the union at this critical juncture. Sami Ramadani from the union's UK-based support committee, Naftana said: "Issuing a warrant for the arrest of the oil workers' leaders is an outrageous attack on trade union and democratic freedoms."

For further information contact:

Sami Ramadani – 07863 138748
Kamil Mahdi –

Sabah Jawad – 07985 336886

Naftana works in solidarity with the IFOU. It strives to publicize the union's struggle for Iraqi social and economic rights and its stand against the privatisation of Iraqi oil demanded by the occupying powers. For more information see the IFOU's website