More strikes by Royal Mail workers have been announced, with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) stating that its members face a “dramatic” reduction in living standards because of the soaring rate of inflation.
Workers had previously striked in August after a recent ballot which saw members vote by 97.6% for the industrial action on a 77% turnout.
It came after three months of talks which ended on 9 August with no agreement being reached.
What is the CWU saying?
Communication Workers Union (CWU) General Secretary Dave Ward said: “There can be no doubt that postal workers are completely united in their determination to secure the dignified, proper pay rise they deserve.
“We can’t keep on living in a country where bosses rake in billions in profit while their employees are forced to use food banks.
“When Royal Mail bosses are raking in £758 million in profit and shareholders pocketing in excess of £400 million, our members won’t accept pleads of poverty from the company.
“Postal workers won’t meekly accept their living standards being hammered by greedy business leaders who are completely out of touch with modern Britain.
“They are sick of corporate failure getting rewarded again and again.
“Royal Mail’s leadership have lost the dressing room – and unless they make efforts to get real on discussing a pay rise that postal workers deserve, serious disruption will continue.”
Ward said the fresh strikes had been called following the “despicable” way staff were being treated.
CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said: “Our members worked miracles during the pandemic and know full well what they are worth.
“They are fighting for a no-strings, real-terms pay rise – something they are fully entitled to.
“Our members deserve a pay rise that rewards their fantastic achievements in keeping the country connected during the pandemic, but also helps them keep up during this current economic crisis.
“We won’t be backing down until we get just that.”
When are Royal Mail workers striking?
The CWU has called on its members who collect, sort and deliver parcels and letters to take strike action on:
- Thursday 8 September
- Friday 9 September
- Friday 30 September
- Saturday 1 October
Royal Mail has said that it has “well-developed contingency plans” to minimise disruption.
It explains: “We’re really sorry for the disruption that this strike action is likely to cause to you. We want to reassure you we will do everything we can to minimise disruption and get our services back to normal as quickly as possible.
“Royal Mail has well-developed contingency plans, but they cannot fully replace the daily efforts of its frontline workforce. We will be doing what we can to keep services running, but customers should expect significant disruption.”
Will delivery be affected?
On days when strike action is taking place, Royal Mail says it will:
- Deliver as many Special Delivery and Tracked24 parcels as possible
- Prioritise the delivery of Covid test kits and medical prescriptions
Customers should be aware the items that they post the day before, during the strike or after could be caught up in the delays.
Royal Mail is also advising to post items as early as possible in advance of the strike dates and noted that collections will also be less frequent during the strikes.
The firm added that it cannot guarantee delivery of all special delivery items by 9am or 1pm the next day.
Why are workers striking?
Last month the CWU demanded that the Royal Mail begin talks to agree to a "straight, no-strings" pay rise.
The union said management responded with a 2% pay rise, which it claims would lead to a dramatic reduction in worker living standards due to soaring inflation.
A further 3.5% increase is available, subject to agreeing on a series of changes, the company said, but the CWU rejected this offer.
Ward said that “nobody takes the decision to strike lightly” but “postal workers are being pushed to the brink”.
Pullinger added: “Our members know full well what they are worth. They are willing to fight for a no-strings, real-terms pay rise that they are fully entitled to.
“No worker wants to be in this position, and since this dispute began, we eagerly pursued discussions and negotiations. But this was rejected by management, who have left us with no choice but to fight.”
What has Royal Mail said?
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The CWU’s decision to announce further strike action is placing jobs at risk. Royal Mail is losing £1 million a day. Strike action has weakened our financial position and is threatening the long-term job security of our postmen and women.
“The CWU has a responsibility to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business and to engage urgently on the changes required.
“We are now a parcels business. We must adapt old ways of working designed for letters to a world increasingly dominated by parcels and act fast.
“We want to protect well-paid, permanent jobs long-term and retain our place as the industry leader on pay, terms and conditions. The CWU rejected our offer worth up to 5.5% for CWU grade colleagues, the biggest increase we have offered for many years. In a business that is currently losing £1 million pounds a day, we can only fund this offer by agreeing the changes that will pay for it.
“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”
The CWU has described the strikes as the biggest of the summer, which has also seen industrial action by rail workers, Openreach engineers, BT call centre staff, refuse collectors and barristers.
Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson told Sky News last month that the company had offered staff a 5.5% pay rise with no strings attached.
The company has also given workers an unconditional 2% pay increase due to the cost of living that will come in from this month.
Thompson said: "Our team definitely deserve a pay increase. I think we all recognise what’s around us in terms of the cost of living crisis.
"None of us are immune to that, my team are not immune to that."
Royal Mail said last month that it was “disappointed” members of the CWU had voted in favour of industrial action, adding that it would continue to seek an agreement on pay.
Ricky McAulay, operations director at Royal Mail said: "After more than three months of talks, the CWU have failed to engage in any meaningful discussion on the changes we need to modernise, or to come up with alternative ideas.
“The CWU rejected our offer worth up to 5.5% for CWU grade colleagues, the biggest increase we have offered for many years.
"In a business that is currently losing £1 million pounds a day, we can only fund this offer by agreeing the changes that will pay for it.
“Royal Mail can have a bright future, but we can’t achieve that by living in the past. By modernising we can offer more of what our customers want at a price they are willing to pay, all whilst protecting jobs on the best terms and conditions in our industry.
"The CWU’s failure to engage on the changes we need is an abdication of responsibility for the long-term job security of their members.
“We apologise to our customers for the disruption that CWU’s industrial action will cause.”