Giving the real facts on Burslem strike
In Stoke the Socialist Party campaigned in support of postal workers at Burslem in North Staffordshire. Burslem postal workers took strike action to get 12 union reps reinstated after being victimised by Royal Mail management. Between 100 and 200 copies of The Socialist were sold every week during the campaign, showing the support that existed for both the Burslem workers and the Socialist Party.
The Socialist Party's area organiser in North Staffordshire, Andy Bentley, speaks about the campaign:
"Holding stalls and petitioning have been an excellent way to explain what was really going on at Burslem and gives people an opportunity to show their support. When people had the real facts explained to them then the majority supported the strike.
It was mainly ordinary working-class people who signed the petition to reinstate the 12 Burslem workers. This included two young bricklayers who were not union members but would now consider joining up and a Hanley firefighter who remembered the support we had given when they were on strike in 2002.
A young woman, who works at Marks and Spencer, not only signed but, after learning how Burslem workers were fighting back, asked how she could join a union because of 'the shit I get at work'. So we sent her a form to join the USDAW shopworkers' union which Mick, a postal worker from Burslem, got for us.
A nurse told us of 'the stress and intimidation which NHS workers suffer' and returned ten minutes later with four family members to sign the petition.
A First bus driver, after signing the petition, said: 'I'm signing this because you were the only ones who supported us when we were on strike. Good luck to the Burslem posties, we need to stand together more.'
Other postal workers from all over Staffordshire, and from as far as Kent and London, also signed the petition. All were angry about last year's deal with Royal Mail and how managers are already trying to impose changes. All the local postal workers said they would vote for wider strike action in support of Burslem.
6,000 people signing the petition allowed us to get coverage in a local newspaper.
Everyone who signed got a leaflet explaining the facts and were encouraged to pass them onto friends, neighbours and workmates. One woman took away a petition and got it filled in where she works.
Many people who signed the petition also made donations to the strike fund. These were not people with money to burn but ordinary working-class people who wanted to support postal workers at Burslem.
A woman in her 60s told us how she cared for her mentally impaired son. She obviously didn't have much money but she handed over £5 to support the strike.
All these examples show that where we explained things there was overwhelming support for the strike action."
In The Socialist 30 January 2008:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Debt and Housing Feature
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party workplace news