A planned strike by postal workers this month has been called off, following a legal challenge from Royal Mail.
Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) had scheduled a 24 hour walk out in February over an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. But this strike action - from 12.30pm on 16 February to 12.30pm on 17 February - will no longer go ahead.
A legal challenge to the walk out was brought forward by Royal Mail which called into question the grounds on which reasons for the strike had been called. The Royal Mail described it as a “legal error” and said its cancellation would mean “relief” for customers.
CWU bosses, who had expected to see in the region of 115,000 workers take part in the strike, won’t fight it. “The postal executive do not believe it is worth risking the status of the new ballot to defend a ballot mandate that expires on 17 February,” it said.
Talks are expected to continue later this week.
When were Royal Mail workers last on strike?
Royal Mail workers last took strike action over the Christmas period - as part of the increasinly bitter pay dispute - with the company saying the industrial action cost it £200 million. The CWU recently closed a ballot for further action.
It comes as strikes action continues to affect several different industries within the UK. NHS strikes involving nurses and ambulance drivers have occurred amid a fight for a pay rise for public sector workers, while the RMT union representing railway workers across the country received a new pay offer from the Rail Delivery Group as the pay dispute between camps continue.
The Royal Mail was also subject to a Russian cyber attack. The cyber incident left letters and parcels unable to be sent overseas. Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson faced a panel of MPs on 17 January about the ongoing industrial action and the cyber attack on the company. He came under fire over his £500,000 salary and £140,000 bonus amid workers calling for a pay rise.
What are Royal Mail workers asking for?
The main aim of striking postal workers is to gain a pay rise which is in line with current inflation rates. The CWU has said that the current offer from bosses - a 9% pay rise over 18 months - will have a “devastating blow” on their members’ lives. The union is also asking the company to protect jobs in the sector. In 2022, Royal Mail announced plans to cut around 6,000 jobs in cost-cutting measures.
The CWU general secretary Dave said: “When a company openly boasts of having built a £1.7 billion fund to crush its own workers rather than use that money to settle the dispute and restore the service, then you know dark forces are clearly at work. Their sole intention is to destroy the jobs of postal workers and remove their union from the workplace.
“Our members will not stand for this, and further action will take place in 2023. Our message to the public and businesses is that postal workers do not want to be here, but they are facing an aggressive, reckless and out-of-control CEO committed to wrecking their livelihoods.”
The Royal Mail has said that the company is committed to resolving the dispute. Previously, the group said that union bosses were “playing a dangerous game with its members’ jobs and the future of Royal Mail” as the dispute rumbles on.
Is the dispute closer to being resolved
The long-running dispute has remained deadlocked for some time. Union representatives and Royal Mail bosses held talks at conciliation service Acas last month in hope of finding a resolution, however these appeared to have failed.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We entered facilitated talks through Acas in good faith, believing that the CWU were serious in their claim that they wanted a resolution. In announcing further damaging strike action, the CWU have shown they are not interested in resolving this dispute and continue to focus on damaging our business further.
“The CWU’s misguided belief that further industrial action will remove the need for change and force an improved offer is misleading its members and risking their long-term job security. Their 18 days of industrial action have resulted in £200 million losses in the year to date, cost our people around £1,800 in lost pay and inconvenienced our customers.
“We need to agree on changes to make our business more competitive. That is the only way to secure well-paid, long-term job security for our people.
“In a materially loss-making company, with every additional day of strike action, we are facing the difficult choice of whether we spend our money on pay and protecting jobs or on the cost of strikes. We remain committed to talks and urge the CWU to withdraw these strikes for the good of our customers and our people.”