Thank you for the opportunity to address your Convention - It is good to have the opportunity to speak to sister unions.
I joined the Post Office as a temporary job back in 1974. 18 years a lay activist, delivering letters and working in processing.
I am honoured to now speak on behalf of UNI Post &Logistics.
Since my lay activity:
9 years the CWU National Officer for delivery workers and cleaners
11 years the General Secretary of CWU – 210,000 members; 160,000 in Posts, 50,000 in Telecoms and Financial Services
September 2011 – elected World President of UNI Post and Logistics
5.5 million postal workers worldwide working in every country
Postal workers share characteristics – strong Trade Unions, collectivity, community spirit, proud of public service. All developed countries across the world are experiencing reductions in letter volumes which are increasing the pressure to cut jobs and services
However, the economic crisis is affecting all business sectors. In Europe we have liberalisation – January 2013 for remaining 11 countries within the EU. The maintenance of even a minimum USO is under threat in many countries. Postal Administrations are diversifying their activities in to digital solutions, financial services and logistics
During my term of office as UNI Post and Logistics World President I want to see more data produced illustrating the standing of postal workers in their national economies and where possible international comparisons of pay and conditions
Work for the thousands of unorganised postal workers to become union members – whichever company they work for and in whatever country
Want to see more global agreements with the multi national companies
The world’s postal workers are following closely the developments here with the United States Postal Service.
Despite the unprecedented few years that have struck the USPS, the Postal Service still handles over forty percent of the world’s mail. Even today, American households send and receive almost double the mail of families in any other country.
Recently I attended a conference of global postal economists and researchers. I can attest that all those brilliant consultants and advisors that shape the way lawmakers and postal bosses think about the mail are paying attention as well - more common sense in the average postal workers.
When a major policy change happens in the USA, the rest of the world notices. 5 million postal workers around the world - are standing in solidarity with you and your sister handlers in your fight to save USPS.
Many of our colleagues around the world, when you tell them that the Postal Service handles 40% of the world’s mail, when you tell them that last year USPS did $65 Billion in business.
But then again, I’m not sure there are many people that understand the United States Congress.
I may not understand the arcane rules of the Senate and School House Rock never made it onto the BBC - but I’m here to tell you that I can see the situation that Congress has put you in.
UNI Global Union stand fully behind you in your fight for a real and fair solution to the problems at USPS.
When we look at some of the proposals you’re being forced to fight:
Dropping Saturday delivery
Closing tens of thousands of post offices and hundreds of processing facilities
laying off 100,000 postal workers?
Blame the workers and do nothing to solve the problem
It’s clear that Congress created the problem with this prefunding requirement and Congress needs to fix that problem. The fact that the leading bill in Congress does nothing to address the prefunding issue, but that it allows Congress to:
tear up your contracts
layoff thousands of workers,
appoint a board to oversee the dismantling of the Postal Service?
Postal workers around the world are outraged by this brazen attempt to take down the world’s leading postal service.
Our UNI Global Union stand with you in your campaign to defeat this legislation and to fight for a fair solution.
We know you didn’t create the problem, but that you’re fighting hard to fix it.
Now of course – the postal industry is in the midst of a massive transformation all around the world. Here in the US, and especially in the National Postal Mail Handlers Union , you know that better than most.
In nearly every rich country in the world, mail volumes have been plummeting year after year.
The worldwide economic crisis - now into its fifth year - has exacted an incredible toll on postal services in every part of the globe.
Government, business and consumer spending have all contracted during the recession. Postal services are not immune to that slow down.
And the simple fact, is that people and businesses have changed the way they communicate.
When you combine all of those economic realities, you’ve got a perfect storm in our industry.
We have to be optimists. We have to give hope to our members.
UNI Global Union brought together more than 5 million sisters and brothers postal workers in 150 countries and we’re working together to change the rules of the game.
UNI knows how important quality, affordable, universal postal services are to every economy and every society in the world.
Here in the United States, your postal law states that the purpose of the Postal Service is to “bind the Nation together”.
All around the world, postal services do just that.
And so when those in power set out to destroy postal services – through privatisation, liberalisation, or anti-worker legislation - like your friend Darrel Issa has put forth here in Congress – UNI knows the score.
UNI Global Union is fighting around the world to preserve and expand universal postal services.
We’re fighting in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas to ensure that every business and every household has access to reliable mail delivery and professional, efficient post offices.
We’re fighting for wins like our colleagues in Brazil recently achieved.
They will now be expanding the post offices reach into even the smallest remote villages and the poorest urban neighbourhoods.
We know that a strong universal service only makes postal services more efficient, more valuable to our customers. We know that it provides for more quality, reliable, stable jobs for our members.
UNI is fighting back against the world-wide trend of the increased use of part-time, temporary, contracted and outsourced postal work.
We have got proof that unstable, precarious work does not work.
UNI has produced and published a number of reports that show examples from countries like Argentina, New Zealand, the Netherlands, that the fastest way to provide low-quality postal services is to create low-quality postal jobs.
I’ve worked in sorting facilities and I’ve been a letter carrier out on the street, and in my time in the CWU, I’ve met thousands of postal workers.
When the big mailers and the policymakers and the economists want to put more on your back. More temporary and precarious work in the post, more part-time jobs, cutting days of delivery, outsourcing and contracting out of work, UNI’s working with our affiliates – sharing best practices for collective bargaining; developing regulatory and legislative policy that protects good, reliable, and social jobs; and developing regional and global campaigns to support national unions in their fight to preserve quality jobs.
That means making sure that postal workers have a voice on the world of international institutions.
UNI’s made a number of break-throughs in getting a seat at the table and raising the platform for working people.
Philip Jennings, UNI’s General Secretary is now a regular and respected participant at the G20 – where he’s been instrumental in bringing trade union leaders and labour ministers together whenever they meet at the International Labour Organisation - and at the World Economic Forum.
UNI Post and Logistics has built a strong relationship with the Universal Postal Union – the UN body that develops worldwide postal policy – and sits on the UPU’s consultative committee.
In October, I’ll be joining Philip Jennings and Neil Anderson and Stephen DeMatteo from the UNI Postal staff at the UPU’s World Congress where UNI and the UPU will renew their global agreement promoting – social dialogue, increasing skills and training for postal workers and good, sustainable jobs in the postal sector.
UNI has a number of agreements with the UPU’s regional bodies and is developing campaigns to expand our work together with them, including with the regional body here in the Americas.
And of course, UNI is working across all its sectors to give workers a voice as the world continues to grapple with the global economic crisis.
When the problems afflicting working people are global, workers need a global union, and UNI is there.
UNI is focusing on organising new workers in postal services.
UNI recognises that the changing landscape in postal services creates challenges for postal workers and their unions. Job losses, declining membership, more stress and strain on the workers.
But it also creates new opportunities for postal unions all around the world.
We’re working with our unions and our sister unions in the International Transport Workers Federation on a number of campaigns to organize workers into unions all across the post and logistics industry.
With the internet reaching more and more homes and e-commerce continuing to expand - we know that parcels and packets will become a more important part of our business.
We know that when a new company comes in and undercuts our wages and conditions in sorting, transport and delivery, that it affects all of us as well.
And when we look around the world, we know that a lot of those companies are downright hostile to workers and their unions.
That’s why UNI is working with the ITF and our affiliates to win global agreements in multinational companies like DHL, UPS and FedEx.
We need to grow our unions and those workers need the chance to exercise their right to collective bargaining.
As the great American labour slogan reminds us, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
By raising up the standards of all workers in postal services around the world, we’re preserving the gains we’ve fought for and won over the years.