The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has announced its first strike of 2023. The walkout against Royal Mail will be on 16 February, just after Valentine’s Day. However, the trade union’s move to launch another postal strike after a series of them last year came on the same day as Royal Mail disgraced itself not once, but twice.
CWU: another postal strike against Royal Mail is on
In 2022, the CWU carried out numerous strikes – the last one being on Christmas Eve. The actions were over pay, working conditions and Royal Mail bosses’ plans for the company, as well as what CWU general secretary Dave Ward called their “gross mismanagement”. Currently, the union is balloting members again for strike action. However, out of nowhere on Thursday 2 February the CWU announced another strike. It said in a press release:
Postal workers have announced their first postal strike of the year.
From 12.30pm on Thursday 16th February until before 12.30pm on Friday 17th February, over 115,000 members of the… [union] will be taking strike action.
The strike is actually from the previous ballot of members. CWU members will walk out just as that vote legally expires on 17 February. So, it’s a bold move by the union. However, the reason for this last-minute postal strike is quite dramatic. The CWU said:
The union’s national elected leadership called the strike after Royal Mail have begun forcing through unagreed changes related to the structure of work at offices across the country.
These decisions have been taken in direct contravention of the Industrial Relations (IR) Framework established between the union and the employer, the validity of which was re-committed to by Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson in a letter dated 6th January.
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In effect, the changes represent the removal of the right of the CWU to negotiate at a local level, and must be viewed as a real step towards the derecognition of the union.
So, Royal Mail has been ignoring its legal agreement with the CWU – and bosses have been forcing through changes to working conditions anyway. This is hardly unsurprising, though. On the same day the CWU announced the strike, two bits of news about Royal Mail showed just what a shitshow the company has become.
What a shitshow
First, and the CWU tweeted that Royal Mail is re-hiring managers it made redundant. Plus, it’s paying them a salary which would make a postal worker’s eyes water:
Royal Mail Group paid thousands of managers 2 years pay to leave on voluntary redundancy.
They are now paying them £40,000 to come back on a 9 month contract.
— The CWU (@CWUnews) February 2, 2023
Then, a parliamentary committee announced it was hauling Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson back before it – basically because it looks like he lied:
We will question @RoyalMail bosses on 22 February at 14.15 after we received evidence casting doubt over the accuracy of CEO Simon Thompson's statements at our session on 17 January. 📮
— Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (@CommonsBEIS) February 2, 2023
MPs had asked why Royal Mail was tracking how fast employees were making deliveries using their handheld computers [“PDAs”] and whether they were disciplined based on that data.
Mr Thompson said in his initial evidence: “No. I am not aware of technology we have in place that tells people to work more quickly. I am not aware of that at all.”
However, that seems to be untrue. The business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) committee said it had:
received evidence that suggests this is not correct.
Royal Mail bosses: a ‘complete lack of integrity’
Ward said in a press release:
This action is down to the conduct of Royal Mail management, who have displayed a complete lack of integrity. Our members will not just sit back and watch as their working lives are destroyed by a company leadership hell-bent on ripping up historic arrangements that protect their rights and give them a voice through their union.
It’s highly likely that workers will vote for more strikes in the current CWU ballot. Given bosses’ ongoing attitudes towards their staff and the company, it’s of little wonder that another postal strike is happening – with more on the cards, too.Support us and go ad-free
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