Royal Mail workers to strike over pay

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Over 115,000 Royal Mail postal workers will participate in Communication Workers Union (CWU) strikes on August 26 and 31, and September 8 and 9, 2022. The industrial action will run from 4:00am for 24 hours on these days.

This decision to strike follows the union’s recent ballot for strike action, which saw members vote by 97.6% on a 77% turnout to take action. According to the union, this was the biggest mandate for strike action reached since the implementation of the 2016 Trade Union Act.

Following the conclusion of negotiations with the CWU, including completing its mutually agreed dispute resolution processes, Royal Mail announced it would award CWU grade colleagues in the UK an unconditional 2% pay increase, backdated to April 1, 2022. Additionally, a further 3.5% increase is available, subject to agreeing on a series of changes and including a new ‘above and beyond’ bonus. However, the CWU rejected this offer, worth up to 5.5%, which would add around £230m (US$277.9m) to Royal Mail’s annual people costs.

The union rejected the 2% pay rise in light of the UK’s 11.7% rate of inflation. It asserted that this pay rise cannot cover the current cost of living for its members and will consequently “lead to a dramatic reduction in workers’ living standards”, staff that were identified as key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If the CWU’s announced strike action takes place, Royal Mail states that in the UK it would be materially loss-making in the 2022-23 financial year. According to Royal Mail, this decision by the CWU is an abdication of responsibility for the long-term job security of its members. Furthermore, the company argued that the negative commercial impact of any strike action will make pay rises less affordable and could put jobs at risk.

Dave Ward, general secretary of CWU, said, “Nobody takes the decision to strike lightly, but postal workers are being pushed to the brink. There can be no doubt that postal workers are completely united in their determination to secure the dignified, proper pay rise they deserve. We can’t keep on living in a country where bosses rake in billions in profit while their employees are forced to use food banks. When Royal Mail bosses are raking in £758m [US$916.7m] in profit and shareholders pocketing in excess of £400m [US$483.7m], our members won’t accept pleads of poverty from the company. Postal workers won’t meekly accept their living standards being hammered by greedy business leaders who are completely out of touch with modern Britain. They are sick of corporate failure being rewarded again and again. The CWU’s message to Royal Mail’s leadership is simple – there will be serious disruption until you get real on pay.”

Terry Pullinger, deputy general secretary, CWU, said, “Our members worked miracles during the Covid-19 pandemic and know full well what they are worth. The pay offer is an insult to our members and they are willing to fight for a no-strings, real-terms pay rise that they are fully entitled to. Those managing Royal Mail Group are treating our members with contempt by imposing such a minimal amount. Royal Mail Group have failed to recognize the strength of feeling and has clearly lost the dressing room on pay, so they have left us with no choice but to fight. Our members deserve a pay rise that rewards their fantastic achievements in keeping the country connected during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also helps them keep up during this current economic crisis. We won’t be backing down until we get just that.”

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