Postal staff strike is off
Planned strikes by postal workers over the next two weeks have been called off.
Members of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) were due to be back on picket lines on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week and for three days next week as part of a long-running dispute with Royal Mail over pay and working conditions.
However, the CWU announced on Sunday that the planned industrial action had been withdrawn and no further strikes would take place until Saturday, November 12.
A statement on the Royal Mail website said that talks between Royal Mail and the CWU were due to be held at the advisory, conciliation and arbitration service ACAS on Monday this week.
In a statement, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “We recognise the deep frustration felt by many members over this decision.
“But the fact remains that the current direction of Royal Mail doesn’t benefit the company, the community or the country.
“We still need to secure a decent future of this industry, and no attempts to attack our union and our members will change our determination in fighting for that.
“The current focus of the coming days will be negotiations that can hopefully achieve a sensible deal to end this dispute.
“In the meantime, I appeal to our members to stand by their union – stay strong and don’t be provoked.”
CWU acting deputy general secretary, Andy Furey, said: “We entirely understand the anger felt by many over the decision, but we believe it is a necessary move to protect our dispute.
“Our members have been facing down serious harassment from the highest levels of Royal Mail as they defend their industry and those communities they serve.
“They will not be forced into submission so easily, and we will be reminding the company of their determination at ACAS in the coming days.”
Speaking during strike action on Tuesday last week, Tam Dewar – a CWU divisional representative for Scotland – said: “The dispute is about two things.
“They enforced a pay increase of two per cent, which we feel is insufficient given that inflation is running at about 10 per cent and the company made £750million profit.
“Given that postal workers worked right through the pandemic, we would have expected a fairer award than that.
“But the second part of the strike is about structural changes that the business wants to make.
“They want to employ new staff on 25 per cent less pay; they want to cut our sick pay; they want to make it easier to sack postal workers and they want us working six days over seven, including Sunday with no Sunday premium.”
Mr Dewar added that postal workers are a vital part of the community, and especially rural communities, and said they deserve to be treated better.
He continued: “Rural areas depend on Royal Mail as a lifeline to the rest of the world, especially small rural businesses, which depend on a postie being there early in the day delivering and collecting mail.
“Royal Mail has plans to put all deliveries back by about three hours so, instead of the last letter in a rural area being 4.30pm, it would be 7.30pm.
“That’s no use to anybody. It’s about maximising profit for the shareholders. It’s not about improving the service for customers.”
Mr Dewar said there was also concern that plans were afoot to break up Royal Mail and sell off its profitable parts and “leave the letters withering on the vine”.
He continued: “We were there during the pandemic and sometimes were the only people that you would see so we definitely deserve to be treated better.
“Royal Mail has got a 500-year history of providing a service to people and it’s being run into the ground.
“I represent 10,000 postal workers in Scotland and there is absolutely solid support for us amongst the postal workers, as well as an increasing support from the public, who have been attending the picket lines and bringing us rolls and coffees.”
A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: “Royal Mail has well-developed contingency plans, but we cannot fully replace the daily efforts of our frontline workforce.”
The spokesperson added: “On days when national strike action is taking place we will deliver as many Special Delivery and Tracked24 parcels as possible; we will prioritise the delivery of Covid test kits and medical prescriptions wherever possible and we will not be delivering letters – with the exception of Special Delivery.”