The CWU union’s first new-style decision-making Policy Forum discussed the issue of pensions last Thursday.
With the passing of the Postal Services Act, the government is now drawing up plans to privatise Royal Mail.
The Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP) is currently a huge obstacle to privatisation.
It currently has a deficit of between £5 billion and £10 billion, which Royal Mail is struggling to pay off at a rate of £300 million a year.
The government has agreed to “take on” responsibility for paying off this deficit.
This is only right, as the government was paid around £300 million a year from Royal Mail while bosses took a 13 year pensions contributions “holiday”.
However, the government will also “take on” a large part of the RMPP’s £25 billion of assets.
And any new owners of Royal Mail would have to continue the RMPP in some form, which will be a major cost.
In this context the potential for fresh attacks similar to those facing public sector pensions is clear.
That is why the Policy Forum unanimously carried a motion that instructed the CWU leadership to launch a campaign and organise a ballot for strikes if the pension scheme is attacked or worsened in any way.
The motion also instructs the leadership to seek to co-ordinate any such industrial action with the public sector unions in dispute.
The motion was drawn up by activists involved with the Post Worker rank and file paper.
It organised its own independent open debate on what the CWU should do about this new threat.
The motion had the most sponsors out of all those submitted to the forum.
It was carried unanimously, with the support of the postal executive committee, and deputy general secretary Dave Ward.
It gave voice to the widespread feeling that a line in the sand had to be drawn.
People feel that a strong message must be sent to the government that the CWU is prepare to fight to defend members’ pensions.
The success of this intervention by Post Worker activists shows what can be achieved, even by a limited level of rank and file organisation, today.