Communication Workers Union (CWU)
Communication Workers Uni
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Communication Workers Union (CWU)


Communication Workers Union (CWU)

Communication Workers Union (CWU)

Politics and Administration


Communication Workers Union (CWU) is the main trade union in the United Kingdom for people working for telephone, cable, digital subscriber line (DSL) and postal delivery companies. It has 110,000 members in Royal Mail as well as more in many other communication companies.

Formed in 1995, by the merger of the Union of Communication Workers and National Communications Union, its current general secretary is Dave Ward.


CWU members work for Royal Mail, the Post Office, BT, O2, Sky, Accenture HR Services, EE, Virgin Media and other communication companies. Members' expertise includes engineering, computing, clerical, mechanical, driving, retail, financial and manual skills.

The CWU established the United Tech and Allied Workers to represent workers in the technology industry.

Royal Mail industrial action


Main article: 2007 Royal Mail industrial disputes
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.


Further industrial action was taken in 2009. An overwhelming three to one vote in favour backed the dispute and two days of national strike action were called in October 2009. This followed significant periods of local strike action in London, Bristol and areas of Scotland. Following the national 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.

In December 2009, a national agreement was struck and a ballot of the membership on an agreement on pay and working conditions was carried out. This agreement was overwhelmingly supported by CWU members in January 2010. The agreement increased pay and changed working arrangements, particularly in delivery. The agreement was headed "business transformation" and discussions and implementation arrangements continued nationally and in each workplace on the detail of the agreement. As a result, both the union and Royal Mail claimed to have agreed a fully funded modernisation plan.


Labour Party

The CWU has long been affiliated with the Labour Party; for example Alan Johnson, a previous General Secretary, later became a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) and ultimately held a number of Cabinet posts including Home Secretary. Since 2001, the CWU has donated over £9million to the Labour Party but relationships became strained over Labour plans to privatise Royal Mail in 2007 and 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 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. As the privatisation proposal from the Labour government in 2009, the Postal Services Bill, was defeated through the unions campaign, led by the left wing Labour loyalist and long term General Secretary Billy Hayes, with the support of Labour backbenchers, affiliation has remained in place.

Since the election of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government the union has sought to re-define its relationship with the Labour Party. In July 2010 the union's National Executive Committee agreed to nominate and support Ed Balls MP for Labour leader in the 2010 leadership ballot. In turn, Ed Balls MP supported the unions Keep The Post Public campaign in the summer of 2010 in opposition of the planned coalition government's intention to privatise Royal Mail.

In September 2015, CWU endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election.

In August 2017, it was announced that the organisation will formally affiliate to Momentum after its ruling executive voted unanimously in favour to join the organisation. General secretary Dave Ward, told the New Statesman that "the general election showed the value of Momentum as part of the wider labour movement", and that the body, which emerged from Corbyn's 2015 leadership campaign, was now "a major political force in the UK", saying it had a "key role to play in securing a transformative Labour government".

1st Class Credit Union

Not to be confused with Penny Post Credit Union.
1st Class Credit Union Limited was formed in 1992, as Glasgow District Postal Workers Credit Union, it became the Scottish Postal Workers Credit Union in 1998, before adopting the present name in 2007. A member of the Association of British Credit Unions Limited, it is open to members and employees of the CWU.

The credit union is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the PRA. Ultimately, like the banks and building societies, members’ savings are protected against business failure by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

In 2016, it was awarded a large grant of £60,000 by the Lloyds Banking Group Credit Union Development Fund to strengthen its capital asset ratio.


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Alena Potapova

Development Director
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