Royal Mail is urging people to post parcels and cards as early as possible to ensure items arrive in time for Christmas as workers stage further strikes.
Thousands of members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are embroiled in an increasingly bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, and will stage a series of strikes in the run-up to Christmas.
The walkouts, involving 115,000 workers, will impact deliveries across the UK, with the CWU warning that millions of pieces of mail have been piling up ahead of the action. It has prompted warnings of a “Christmas meltdown” in parcel and letter deliveries as negotiations between the union and Royal Mail have broken down.
Workers began the first of six days of festive strikes on Friday (9 December), which saw around 15,000 union members stage a rally outside Parliament in what was described as the biggest postal workers’ demonstration in living memory.
Further strike action took place on Sunday (11 December) and the CWU has formally notified Royal Mail that it will call on members who collect, sort and deliver parcels and letters to take national strike action on the following dates this month:
- Wednesday 14 December
- Thursday 15 December
- Friday 23 December
- Saturday 24 December
It comes after several months of talks between the postal service and the union, in which Royal mail made its “best and final” offer for pay and change.
The revised offer includes “extensive improvements” that have been made over the course of negotiations with the CWU, including an enhanced pay deal of 9% over 18 months, offering to develop a new profit share scheme for employees, and making voluntary redundancy terms more generous. It had previously offered a 7% pay rise over two years.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We spent three more days at Acas this week to discuss what needs to happen for the strikes to be lifted. In the end, all we received was another request for more pay, without the changes needed to fund the pay offer.
“The CWU know full well that in a business losing more than £1 million a day, we need to agree changes to the way we work so that we can fund the pay offer of up to 9% we have already made.
“While the CWU refuses to accept the need for change, it’s our customers and our people who suffer. Strike action has already cost our people £1,200 each. The CWU is striking at our busiest time, deliberately holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country.”
Royal Mail is urging customers to post items “as early as possible” to ensure delivery in time for Christmas, as collections will be less frequent on days when strikes are taking place.
The postal service added: “We’re urging CWU leadership to accept the change and pay offer, call off future damaging strike action, for the good of our customers and our people.
“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”
What is the latest date to post items for Christmas?
Royal Mail has warned customers that its last Christmas posting dates will be earlier than usual due to the ongoing strikes.
Most of the international post cut-off dates have now passed and anyone who didn’t post their bulk economy mail within the UK has missed the 7 December deadline, meaning it is unlikely that gifts will arrive in time for Christmas. The earlier deadlines to send presents and cards have been put in place to accommodate expected disruption from the strike action.
A post on the Royal Mail’s website states: “Some dates have changed to accommodate the disruption due to recent CWU industrial action. We recommend you post as early as possible to ensure your Christmas letters and parcels reach their destination in good time."
The postal service is asking people hoping to make Christmas deadlines to send second class post by 12 December and first class post by 16 December. The final posting date before Christmas is the Special Delivery Guaranteed service on 21 December.
Royal Mail said it will continue to accept, prioritise and deliver as many Special Delivery items as resources allow during the strikes, but it cannot guarantee delivery of all items by 9am or 1pm the next day.
Tracked 24 items will be treated as a priority for delivery on days when strike action is taking place, but reduced resources mean there could be delays to some items posted the day before, on the day of and in the days immediately after strike action.
The latest possible dates to post items to ensure arrival in time for Christmas is as follows:
Monday 12 December
- 2nd Class
- 2nd Class Signed For
- Royal Mail 48
Friday 16 December
- 1st Class
- 1st Class Signed For
- Royal Mail 24
- Royal Mail Tracked 48
Monday 19 December
- Royal Mail Tracked 24
Wednesday 21 December
- Special Delivery Guaranteed