‘I’ll keep picketing as long as I’m able to’ vows terminally ill striker

Postal, Royal Mail Group (EMP)


Rab Bain pictured at rear centre

Hero Edinburgh member drives himself to picket line at 6am after hospital treatment…his wife didn’t even know he’d gone!

“Please all keep sticking together and don’t give in,” is the heartfelt message Rab Bain asked CWU News to send out to all CWU strikers when we spoke to him yesterday, just a few days after surprising his fellow workers by turning up at their early-morning picket line.

“I’d had palliative chemotherapy at hospital the day before and that evening I was really tired – but I thought if I got an early night, I’d get myself up in time to see the guys on the line nice and early.

“When I got there it was so great to see them all – lots of hugs and cheers! I stayed about an hour and then I gradually started feeling really cold and quite tired, so I drove home again. And when I got back indoors, my wife Karen was still asleep. I hadn’t told her I was going beforehand because I wasn’t sure until I actually went whether I’d feel able to – but when I told her I’d been to the picket, she was pleased for me and how it had really cheered me up to see everyone. They’re such a great bunch over there.”

First diagnosed with bowel cancer three years ago, after being taken to hospital with a burst appendix, Rab, 57, told of how he had undergone “constant treatments, operations and surgery” ever since then. “In September and October, I had operations to have my gall bladder and 50 per cent of my liver removed and then in December – it was 22nd December 2021 – the doctor told me the cancer had spread to my bones, back and lungs and that I had six months to a year left to live.”

Rab says that hearing the terrible news devastated his wife and that the doctor had also seemed extremely upset, but as to his own feelings, he recalls: “It’s hard to describe. Whether I completely took it in or not when the doctor told me, I’m not sure. It gradually dawned on me. I didn’t go and tell people. I didn’t tell anyone directly. As if it somehow wasn’t real if I didn’t mention it.”

Since that awful day, Rab has attended hospital regularly, receiving palliative care including chemotherapy and other treatments. But despite his own ordeal, he kept in touch with workmates at Edinburgh West Delivery Office and watched with dismay as the company set out to attack the union, the workforce and the whole service. Having worked for Royal Mail for 22 years and served as a unit rep for the past decade, he felt the anger that his colleagues felt at what has been happening.

“I’m a great believer in the union, massively, and I feel for the guys when I see what the company’s trying to do to them. I wanted to show my face on the picket line,” he says.

“Saturday was the first time I was able to get there and it was so nice to go down and support them. I’m in the group photo there – at the back with a hood and glasses. It was a strange feeling, a little bit surreal actually, but really nice.

“I want to go again. I’m going to try every time I can as long as I’m able to and as long as I’m not in hospital.

“What I’d say to our guys, all our Royal Mail members – and Post Office and our members in BT as well – is please stick together, keep sticking together, keep fighting, don’t give in.

“I know it’s hard and it’s going to be hard, but to give in now will cripple us and those people will destroy the company.”

His branch secretary (Scotland No2 Branch) said: “Rab’s an incredibly brave man. It’s wonderful that he drove himself to the picket line so early in the morning in these circumstances to support his workmates. He says about how it cheered him up, well it was a massive morale boost to our guys on the picket line as well – inspirational.

“Make no mistake, we will all keep on fighting and we hope he’ll be able to come and see us on the picket line again.”