CWU chief says we’re in a ‘de facto general strike’. He’s not wrong.

Dave Ward of the CWU
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The head of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) Dave Ward has said that the UK is in the midst of a “de facto general strike”. A helpful industrial action advent calendar, released by Strike Map UK, shows that he’s not far wrong. However, a de facto general strike is still not a general strike – and it’s unlikely that will happen any time soon.

CWU: pushing for “social value” for Royal Mail

The Telegraph interviewed Ward over the CWU’s ongoing dispute with Royal Mail, and the winter of strikes happening across industries more broadly. Of note was Ward’s argument that Royal Mail needed to diversify its business – not just focus on delivering parcels. Ward said the CWU had already agreed its workers could make “24/7 deliveries”. But the CWU chief also said:

Can a postal worker become something more than just delivering parcels? Can they become somebody who actually supports people who might be vulnerable in society? We’ve talked about calling on elderly people. Delivering prescriptions is a great idea. Where people who can’t get out and about, we actually pick up their prescription, and we deliver it.

Ward added:

adding social value is something that if we spent six months looking at all of the things that are absent from local communities, now, there used to be, that we could come up with a range of services.

It is unlikely Royal Mail’s management will have any interest in this. Ward told the Telegraph he thinks the chaos at the company is being “driven by [a] potential takeover“. So workers and the CWU will continue to strike. Now, a campaign group has produced an advent calendar-style chart to show us when these and other unions’ strikes are happening.

The “Strikevent” calendar

Strike Map UK constantly logs all ongoing and upcoming strikes across the country. For December, when there seems to be industrial action everywhere, it’s produced a “Strikevent Calendar“:

Read on...

A calendar of all the strikes happening in December

It looks like Monday 12 December is going to be another ‘super strike’ day – as eight unions are walking out nationally. Meanwhile, on Friday 9 December the CWU is holding a national strike rally in London:

Aside from the major disputes, local strikes are also happening – like funeral workers in Scotland taking action against Co-op Funeralcare:

It’s not just public and private sector workers striking, either. Staff at homelessness charity Shelter have just started a two-week walkout over pay and conditions:

General strike? Not likely.

So, as Ward summed up to the Telegraph:

It’s almost like a de facto general strike taking place by the amount of disputes.

However, of course this is not a general strike – and there is confusion over whether one would even be lawful anymore. The Telegraph claimed that only the Trades Union Congress (TUC) can call a general strike across multiple unions. It hasn’t done this since 1926. But the Guardian says that general strikes are now illegal.

Given the Tories’ legal restrictions on strikes, and the TUC’s limp approach to industrial action and workers’ rights – a general strike is unlikely to happen. So it looks like it’s down to unions to coordinate strikes as much as possible.

Featured image via Sky News – YouTube

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