After 115,000 Royal Mail workers declared they would strike in less than a fortnight, Britain’s postal service is now paralysed with no delivery of letters or prescription medicines.
Twenty-four-hour strikes have been called for 26 and 31 August 2022 for shifts beginning at or after 04:00 hours and 8 and 9 September 2022 for shifts beginning at or after 04:00 hours.
This will be the largest strike in the “summer” of discontent so far and mark the first time Royal Mail workers have taken to the streets since 2009.
After talks on pay and conditions collapsed, a CWU source accused company bosses of “taking p –“.”.
Royal Mail also claimed that the union failed to engage in meaningful discussions for the past three months.
Postal workers demand a “dignified and proper pay increase” to combat rampant inflation. They reject the 5.5pc wage hike offered by the company.
Royal Mail offers a 2pc increase that dates back to April 1 and a 3.5pc increment that is dependent on productivity improvements and changes in postal worker rosters.
The CWU said that this would be a real-terms salary cut. However, the Bank of England is currently predicting an inflation rate of 13pc for October.
The union is also upset about the new schedules, which would see postal workers being asked to work longer hours and more days in order to increase the company’s ability to deliver online shopping parcels.
Dave Ward, general secretary of CWU said that “Nobody makes the decision to strike lightly” but that postal workers are being pushed beyond their limits.
“We cannot continue to live in a country where bosses make billions while their employees have to go to food banks.
“The CWU’s message for Royal Mail’s leadership was simple – there will be severe disruption until you get serious about pay.”
Royal Mail however warned that the strike action would cause postal service disruptions on the targeted days, leaving millions of households without important mail.
A company spokesperson stated that special deliveries, tracked parcels and Covid testing kits, as well as medical prescriptions, would be “prioritised”, but acknowledged that delivery was not guaranteed due to industrial action.
Ricky McAulay is the operations director at Royal Mail. He stated that the CWU had failed to have meaningful discussions with them about the changes they need or to offer alternative solutions after more than three years of negotiations.
“Royal Mail may have a bright future but it is impossible to live in the past.”
“The CWU’s inability to make the necessary changes is a sign of their abdication of responsibility for long-term job security.
“We apologise for any disruption caused by CWU’s Industrial Action.”
He said that the company was open to discussing further details, but not about “both pay and change”.
After CWU members overwhelmingly voted for strike action last month, plans for a nationwide walkout have been made.
This union is made up of approximately 115,000 Royal Mail employees.
Talks with Royal Mail to avoid industrial action have continued since then.
The company stated that its offer to increase the pay by 3.5% is contingent on productivity improvements.
Bosses argued that more mail should be sorted by machine than by hand. They also suggested that postal workers must be able to offer parcel delivery on more days of the week to keep up with competition from other companies as the online shopping boom increases demand for next-day packages.
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