CWU warns postal workers face “armageddon moment” ahead of strikes

Katie Neame

Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward has warned that postal workers are facing an “armageddon moment” in their dispute with Royal Mail ahead of two further days of strike action.

The CWU confirmed today that 115,000 members will go on strike this week in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. The strike will begin on Thursday and cover the busy shopping period of Black Friday.

The union accused Royal Mail of offering it “take-it-or-leave-it proposals”, which it said would result in the company being turned into a “gig economy-style parcel courier, reliant on casual labour”.

It claimed that the company had proposed a “wholly inadequate” non-backdated 3.5% pay rise, as well as demanding that the CWU be “removed from the workplace and transformed into a company union to help management implement plans”.

The CWU said Royal Mail’s proposals entailed thousands of compulsory redundancies, cuts to sick pay and “no job security commitments at all”. It also alleged that the company had proposed to introduce technology that will “monitor postal workers every minute of the day”.

Ward said: “We are disappointed that instead of reaching a compromise to avoid major disruption, Royal Mail have chosen to pursue such an aggressive strategy.

“We will not accept that 115,000 Royal Mail workers – the people who kept us connected during the pandemic and made millions in profit for bosses and shareholders – take such a devastating blow to their livelihoods.

“These proposals spell the end of Royal Mail as we know it and its degradation from a national institution into an unreliable, Uber-style gig economy company.

“Make no mistake about it: British postal workers are facing an armageddon moment. We urge every member of the public to stand with their postie and back them like never before.”

The CWU is calling for an improved 18-month pay deal including back pay for all workers, a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and the restoration of previously agreed processes for voluntary redundancies.

It is demanding a joint review of the relationship between the CWU and Royal Mail Group and the reintroduction of the right of CWU reps to be fully involved and able to negotiate on local revisions.

The union is also urging Royal Mail to pursue an “alternative business strategy” that would see it “use its competitive advantage to grow as a company, instead of becoming a gig economy parcel employer”.

Royal Mail’s chief executive Simon Thompson claimed that the company’s latest pay offer would see postal workers receive “up to a 9% pay increase over 18 months alongside a host of other enhancements”.

The company said it also offered “more generous” voluntary redundancy terms and pledged not to make any compulsory job cuts until the end of March.

Thompson declared that Royal Mail’s current pay offer is the company’s “best and final offer.” He said negotiations involve “give and take” and claimed that the CWU’s approach is “to just take”.

Postal workers took part in a series of walkouts over the summer, after CWU members voted by almost 98% on a 77% turnout to take strike action.

Speaking to TalkTV after the strike action was first announced, Ward said the Royal Mail Group had “imposed, not negotiated” a 2% pay rise and were claiming that they’d offered a 5.5% uplift. He stressed: “That’s simply not true.”

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