Five years ago the government privatised the Royal Mail delivery service, and ever since the vultures have been circling the remaining Crown post office counter services too. The recent announcement that another 74 post offices are to be franchised out to high street monopoly WH Smith, in addition to over 100 earlier franchises already run by the company, marks a threshold moment in the push to privatise the whole shebang. As well as undermining job security, pay and conditions for staff, this creeping privatisation puts a question mark over the delivery of those many services to local communities on which people rely, especially in rural areas.
The CWU (Communications Workers Union) launched a campaign in the run-up to Christmas to protest against this latest blow. Frustratingly the leadership encouraged its members to regard the campaign as simply a way of holding the fort until the cavalry appears over the horizon in the form of a Labour government. Assistant secretary Andy Furey assures members that “when Labour comes to power, they will re-merge the Post Office and Royal Mail in public ownership – but we have to make sure that there is a Post Office and so this campaign has to succeed”. This jam tomorrow approach can only distract workers from organising themselves to resist today.