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The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is the main trade union in the United Kingdommarker for people working for telephone, cable, DSL and postal delivery companies, with 220,000 members. It was formed in 1995, by the merger of the Union of Communication Workers with the National Communications Union. Its current general secretary is Billy Hayes. CWU members work for Royal Mail, BT, O2, cable TV, Accenture HR Services, the Alliance & Leicester, Girobank, Orange and other communication companies. Members' expertise includes engineering, computing, clerical, mechanical, driving, retail, financial and manual skills.

Leadership and Main Officers

Billy Hayes; General SecretaryTony Kearns: senior deputy general secretaryAndy Kerr; deputy general secretaryDave Ward; deputy general secretaryKevin Slocombe head of communicationsTony Rupa legal officerJohn East national organiser

2007 Royal Mail industrial action

The basis of the strike was a disagreement over pay and pensions. On 7 June, 2007, the union's postal members voted by 77.5% to strike after a 2.5% pay rise coupled with £350 million every year for five years (totalling $1.5 billion) of cuts was offered. They took their first one day strike on 29 June 2007, and the second on 12 July and 13 July. The action then progressed to a series of rolling strikes.

2009 Royal Mail industrial action

Further industrial action was taken in 2009. An overwhelming YES vote of 3 to 1 backed the action and 2 days of national strike action was taken in October 2009. Following these days of action, the TUC were involved in brokering an "interim agreement" that provided a "period of calm" for the Union and Royal Mail to negotiate a full and final agreement on the introduction of modernisation and relevant working practices. Following the interim agreement, strike action was suspended and talks held under the auspices of ACAS.

General Secretaries

Labour Party affiliation

The CWU has long been affiliated with the Labour Party. Alan Johnson, a previous General Secretary is now a Labour Member of Parliament. Since 2001, the CWU has donated over £6million to the Labour Party. However, in recent years members' satisfaction, particularly amongst the postal section, means that this close working relationship with Labour may be in jeopardy. Indeed, in 2007 Dave Ward, the CWU's representative on the Labour Party's National Executive Committee announced he was stepping down from this role because he believed it conflicted with the interests of union members.. He was replaced by the deputy general secretary Andy Kerr.

At the CWU Annual Conference 2008 there was much debate about the union's relationship with Labour. It was agreed, and remains union policy that a ballot would be held to cease funds to the party if privatisation of postal services took place.

This has developed into open criticism of the party, particularly over the possible privatisation of the Post Office. The Union submitted a motion to TUC Congress 2009 criticising a number of Labour policies and calling for the formation of a political alternative. In London, CWU members organised a regional indicative ballot over whether the union should continue to give money to the Labour Party in which 98% voted to stop funding the party and to end the Labour Link.


  1. The Socialist Issue 594
  2. The Socialist Issue 594
  3. CWU Resolution to TUC Congress 2009
  4. The Socialist Issue 594
  5. Campaign For A New Workers Party

External links

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