The Communications Workers’ Union has announced more strikes against Royal Mail. It’s quite the turnaround, given the company recently threatened the CWU with legal action. Not to be beaten down, the union and its members clearly weren’t having it – they’ve announced strikes that will hit some of the busiest shopping days of the year.
CWU and Royal Mail: protracted dispute
As the Canary previously reported, the CWU has been in a protracted industrial dispute with Royal Mail. The company offered workers a pay rise that was nearly half the rate of inflation, and compounded this with worsening working conditions. Then, Royal Mail warned it would lay off 6,000 workers and axe around 4,000 positions.
To top this all off, on Sunday 30 October the CWU said it was cancelling all planned strikes because Royal Mail had threatened it with a legal letter. As the Canary exclusively revealed, Royal Mail stopped the strikes on a pedantic legal point. However, the CWU has fought back once again.
The union has regrouped and announced a series of 48-hour strikes. It said that workers will be striking on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November. The latter is known as ‘Black Friday’, the biggest shopping day of the year. Then, workers will strike on Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December – just two days after Cyber Monday, one of the busiest online shopping days. The CWU will also hold a vote of no confidence in Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson. On top of all this, the CWU’s postal executive will meet on Thursday 3 November to discuss new actions in the Christmas build-up.
All this comes on top of a new, yet equally derisory, pay offer from Royal Mail. The company offered a 7% two-year pay offer – once more, an effective pay cut. It also wants to make sweeping changes to working conditions. These include introducing what the CWU calls “Uber-style” owner-drivers, mail centre closures, and changes to Sunday working. The union says workers are rightly outraged.
Tackling nefarious bosses, the CWU way
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said:
Posties are in the fight of their lives against the Uberisation of Royal Mail and the destruction of their conditions. But 115,000 of our members will not just accept this war on their livelihoods and their industry. They will never give up the fight to protect this industry and to protect their hard-won working conditions. Simon Thompson has to either accept that or walk away – until he does one or the other, serious disruption will continue.
The union’s acting deputy general secretary, Andy Furey, said:
So many of our members have given their entire working lives to building this company. They deserve a much better deal than what is on offer, and Simon Thompson is on another planet if he thinks we’ll stop fighting to achieve that.
Announcing strikes during the year’s busiest shopping period and after a legal threat is a strong move from CWU. It shows that the union is not only savvy but also that it will not be compromised by nefarious bosses trying to shut it and its members up.
Featured image via the CWU – YouTube