Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communications Workers Union, has warned that postal workers face a “moment of war” in their dispute with Royal Mail ahead of two days of strike action.
The CWU today confirmed its 115,000 members will strike this week in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. The strike will begin on Thursday and will cover the busy shopping period of Black Friday.
The union accused Royal Mail of giving it “take it or leave it” offers, which it said would result in the company becoming a “large economy-style parcel courier based on casual labour”.
He claimed the company had offered a “grossly inadequate” 3.5% non-back pay rise and also demanded the CWU be “removed from the workplace to help management implement plans and become a company union”.
The CWU said Royal Mail’s proposals included thousands of compulsory redundancies, reduced sick pay and “no job security commitments”. He also claimed that the company was proposing to implement technology that would “monitor postal workers every minute of the day”.
Ward said: “We are disappointed that Royal Mail has chosen such an aggressive strategy instead of reaching a compromise to avoid major disruption.
“We will not accept such a devastating blow to the livelihoods of 115,000 Royal Mail workers – the people who keep us in touch during the pandemic and make millions for bosses and shareholders.
“These proposals spell the end of Royal Mail as we know it and its transformation from a national institution into an unreliable, Uber-style gig economy company.
“Make no mistake: Britain’s postal workers are facing a moment of war. We call on every member of the public to stand up and support like never before.”
The CWU is calling for an improved 18-month pay deal, including back pay for all workers, a guarantee of no redundancies and the reinstatement of previously agreed processes for voluntary redundancies.
It calls for a joint review of the relationship between the CWU and the Royal Mail Group and the restoration of the right of CWU representatives to be fully involved in and negotiate local changes.
The union is also calling for Royal Mail to implement an “alternative business strategy” that would see it “use its competitive advantage to grow as a company, rather than becoming a gig economy parcel employer”.
Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson claimed the company’s latest pay offer would see postal workers receive “a pay rise of up to 9% over 18 months, alongside a number of other improvements”.
The company also said it was offering “more generous” voluntary redundancy terms and promised no compulsory redundancies until the end of March.
Thompson said Royal Mail’s current payment offer was the company’s “best and final offer”. He said the negotiations involved “give and take” and claimed the CWU’s approach was “just get”.
Postal workers took part in a series of walkouts over the summer after CWU members voted almost 98% to 77% to strike.
Speaking to TalkTV after the strike was first announced, Ward said Royal Mail Group had “implemented, negotiated” a 2% pay rise and claimed they were offering a 5.5% rise. He emphasized: “This is simply not true.”
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