Fears of post strike chaos at Christ­mas

Work­ers plan first ac­tion in decade

Daily Mail - - News - Daily Mail Re­porter

‘We are in a fight to the death’

ROYAL Mail is fac­ing its first na­tional postal strike in a decade af­ter staff voted over­whelm­ingly in favour of in­dus­trial ac­tion.

The dis­pute – over job se­cu­rity and em­ploy­ment terms and con­di­tions – raises the threat of walk­out in the run-up to Christ­mas or dur­ing Black Fri­day sales.

Mem­bers of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Work­ers Union (CWU) backed ac­tion by 97 per cent in a turnout of al­most 76 per cent.

The CWU claimed Royal Mail was not stick­ing to an agree­ment reached last year cov­er­ing a wide range of is­sues, in­clud­ing plans to re­duce the work­ing week and job se­cu­rity. In­dus­trial re­la­tions at the com­pany have wors­ened this year, with wide­spread un­of­fi­cial strikes break­ing out vir­tu­ally every week.

Terry Pullinger, the CWU’s deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary, his mem­bers were fac­ing the ‘fight of our lives’.

The union said the re­sult rep­re­sented the largest ‘ yes’ vote for na­tional in­dus­trial ac­tion since the pass­ing of the Trade Union Act in 2016. It added that the prospect of the first na­tional postal strike in a decade now ‘looms large’.

Strikes in 2009 over job losses caused a back­log of more than 50mil­lion let­ters across a sin­gle week­end in Oc­to­ber. Fur­ther ac­tion planned over the fes­tive pe­riod that year was called off, pre­vent­ing mass dis­rup­tion to Christ­mas de­liv­er­ies.

CWU gen­eral sec­re­tary Dave Ward said: ‘This re­sult sends a clear mes­sage to Royal Mail Group – our mem­bers will not stand by as you rip up their terms and con­di­tions and de­stroy the ser­vice they give to the pub­lic and busi­nesses of the UK.

‘We would urge Royal Mail Group to now en­ter se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions with this union. We also call on the pub­lic to get be­hind this dis­pute and your postal work­ers.

‘We are very proud of our mem­bers to­day. They have stood by their union in record num­bers and given hope to work­ers across the na­tion.’

Mr Ward added that Royal Mail chief ex­ec­u­tive Rico Back should now con­sider his po­si­tion fol­low­ing the ‘ his­toric’ vote. The union’s ex­ec­u­tive will de­cide the next move, but Mr Ward said: ‘We will look at what gives us the most lever­age.’ He said the CWU was de­fend­ing the postal ser­vice as well as mem­bers’ jobs.

A me­di­a­tion process al­ready in place ends on Fri­day, then there are three weeks be­fore a ‘part­ing of the waves’.

Mr Pullinger said: ‘We rep­re­sent de­cent, hard-work­ing peo­ple who don’t de­serve what is hap­pen­ing to them and the ser­vice.

‘There is some­thing se­ri­ously wrong with the way the Royal Mail is be­ing run. When we make a deal we stick to it.’

He claimed up to 50,000 jobs were at risk in the Royal Mail, as well as in Parcelforc­e un­der plans to sep­a­rate it from the postal busi­ness. He ac­cused the chief ex­ec­u­tive of sack­ing man­agers and re­plac­ing them with ‘car­pet bag­gers’.

He added: ‘We are in a fight to the death. We built it – we would rather smash it to bits than hand it over.’

Royal Mail said it was ‘very dis­ap­pointed’ that a bal­lot had been held. A state­ment said: ‘A bal­lot re­sult for in­dus­trial ac­tion does not nec­es­sar­ily mean there will be in­dus­trial ac­tion. We are still in me­di­a­tion with the CWU.

‘We want to reach agree­ment. There are no grounds for in­dus­trial ac­tion. [It] is dam­ag­ing for our busi­ness and un­der­mines the trust of our cus­tomers. Royal Mail wants to trans­form to meet our cus­tomers’ chang­ing needs as we post fewer let­ters and re­ceive more parcels.’

Royal Mail said it was hon­our­ing the 2018 agree­ment, award­ing two pay in­creases of 5 and 2 per cent, grant­ing the first hour’s re­duc­tion in a shorter work­ing week, and join­ing the CWU to lobby the Gov­ern­ment for a new pen­sion scheme.

The com­pany said it had also reached a ne­go­ti­ated agree­ment with Unite on a two-year pay deal for ju­nior and mid­dle-man­agers.

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