Royal Mail: high court bans the strike

For how long will we accept the right of bosses’ courts to decide how workers’ organisations are run?

Proletarian writers

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A huge majority of postal workers have voted for strike action, yet Mr Justice Swift of the high court has banned their strike on the basis of claimed ‘irregularities’. So much for the impartiality of the law.

Proletarian writers

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Shareholders of the privatised Royal Mail postal service were celebrating a rise of 1.4 percent in their shares after the high court awarded the company an injunction forbidding postal workers from taking strike action in defence of their pension rights. (Royal Mail wins high court injunction to stop postal strike by Jasper Jolly, The Guardian, 13 November 2019)

The posties meanwhile have been rubbing their eyes in disbelief that a strike for which over 97 percent voted, out of a turnout of 76 percent, can have been so casually outlawed by a judge who nobody voted for at all.

The “irregularities” and “interference” which m’lud claims to have discerned in the ballot process boil down to the allegation that some overenthusiastic workers were so eager to vote that they intercepted their ballot papers at work and completed them on the spot.

Leaving aside the question of whether this really happened (the CWU union points out that Royal Mail has only the word of one manager to go on), what the hell is wrong with union members voting in the workplace, where they can talk through the issues with their comrades and raise class morale?

The answer is that bosses and judges alike fear anything that smells like genuine workers’ democracy, much preferring to see an atomised workforce consisting of isolated workers hiding behind individual letter boxes, away from the bracing influence of workplace solidarity.

The fact that even under these conditions the overwhelming majority still voted to go on strike is a real tribute to the postal workers.

The hard truth is that it is the capitalist state that grossly interferes with workers’ democracy by insolently claiming the right to inspect and pass judgement on how unions choose to organise their own internal affairs.

It is not enough for unions to subscribe in principle to a campaign to repeal Britain’s many union-bashing laws, even as they meekly appeal against injunctions handed down from the bosses’ courts. Sooner or later these laws must be challenged and broken.

Defend workers’ rights; defy the anti-trade-union laws!