4:09pm 15th October 2019.
(Updated at 6:27pm 15th October 2019)
The Communication Workers Union says the first national postal strike for a decade is “looming large” after Royal Mail workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.
Strikes were backed by 97% of the union’s members at the company – and it follows a year of growing unrest and wildcat action among staff. There was a similar result among Parcelforce Worldwide workers.
The CWU has accused the company of reneging on an agreement struck last year covering plans to reduce the working week, job security and other terms and conditions of employment.
Its deputy general secretary, Tony Pullinger, said: “Just over one year ago the Royal Mail Group (RMG) board and the CWU agreed a blue print agreement for the future, a progressive agreement that included an historic pension solution, a mutual interest driven relationship and a joint vision for a successful postal service with social aims.
“Today the new RMG leadership are breaking that agreement.
“Our members take honour seriously and have voted to fight for that agreement against those who now seek to break up the great British postal service in the interest of fast track profit and greed.
“Integrity and pride still matters and we will not stand aside and see what we have spent our working lives building destroyed.”
The union claims 50,000 jobs are at risk in the business under the company’s plans, which include separating its Parcelforce division as letter volumes decline.
Its general secretary, Dave Ward, said chief executive Rico Back, who joined last year, had lost the confidence of his workforce.
The company’s mediation rules means it will be almost a month before any strike could be called, leaving the potential for delivery disruption in the run-up to the crucial Black Friday and Christmas season for Royal Mail.
Royal Mail responded: “A ballot result for industrial action does not necessarily mean there will be industrial action.
“We are still in mediation with the CWU. Under our dispute resolution procedure, set out in the agenda for growth, we are committed to reaching a resolution.
“No industrial action can be taken, and formal notification of industrial action cannot be given, before the conclusion of the dispute resolution procedure.
“We want to reach agreement. There are no grounds for industrial action. Industrial action – or the threat of 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.
“Working together at pace, the transformation is about ensuring a more sustainable company, a fairer working environment, the best terms and conditions in our industry and a contemporary universal service.”