Postal workers are warning the public of the “end of Royal Mail as we know it”. 115,000 employees will strike on Thursday 24 November and Black Friday (25 November). The union has warned that Royal Mail is inflicting “Armageddon” on workers, as the company has essentially walked away from talks – delivering what it’s branded as a “final and best” offer. However, the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) basically said the whole thing stinks.
Royal Mail: a catastrophic impasse of its own making
The story of the dispute between the corporate capitalist Royal Mail and its workers and their union has had various twists and turns. For example, Royal Mail has threatened 6,000 redundancies and made legal threats. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn and other socialist MPs supported the CWU – while Labour leader Keir Starmer turned the other cheek. However, it now appears that the dispute is at a catastrophic impasse – thanks to Royal Mail. It’s one which could see this industrial action roll-on ad infinitum.
The CWU said in a press release that Royal Mail had made a last-ditch offer to workers; its “final and best offer”. Overall, the CWU noted the proposals included:
- Turning Royal Mail Group into a gig economy-style parcel courier, reliant on casual labour.
- Thousands of inevitable compulsory redundancies.
- A wholly inadequate, non-backdated 3.5% pay increase.
- Demands that the CWU no longer formally supports workers who have submitted employment tribunals for unlawful pay deductions during strikes.
- Demands that the CWU be removed from the workplace and transformed into a company union to help management implement plans.
- Later start and finishing times that will see Royal Mail abandoning the AM delivery period.
- Cuts to sick pay.
- Removal of Sunday premium payment.
- The introduction of technology that will monitor postal workers every minute of the day.
Obviously, none of this is acceptable to the CWU and its members. Not least in this is the derisory 3.5% pay increase – when inflation is running at 11.1%.
CWU: not having it
So, the CWU said in response that it’s arguing for the following proposals to help resolve the dispute. These include:
- An improved 18 month pay deal including back pay for all workers.
- A guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
- The restoration of previously agreed processes for voluntary redundancies.
- A joint review of all agreements and the relationship between the CWU and Royal Mail Group.
- Re-establishing the right of CWU reps to be fully involved and able to negotiate on local revisions.
- An alternative business strategy that would see Royal Mail Group use its competitive advantage to grow as a company, instead of becoming a gig economy parcel employer.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said:
We are disappointed that instead of reaching a compromise to avoid major disruption, Royal Mail have chosen to pursue such an aggressive strategy. We will not accept that 115,000 Royal Mail workers – the people who kept us connected during the pandemic, and made millions in profit for bosses and shareholders – take such a devastating blow to their livelihoods.
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These proposals spell the end of Royal Mail as we know it, and its degradation from a national institution into an unreliable, Uber-style gig economy company.
Make no mistake about it: British postal workers are facing an Armageddon moment. We urge every member of the public to stand with their postie, and back them like never before.
The CWU action was always going to be divisive when you have a company like Royal Mail – which is arrogant and hyper-capitalistic. However, it now looks like it will move into the territory of a long-running industrial action with no end in sight – one that will test workers’ resilience to the core. This is why, as Ward said, every member of the public needs to “stand with their postie” until the bitter end – whatever that may look like.
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