Royal Mail union targets Christmas Post with new wave of strikes

Royal Mail workers are due to strike on Christmas Eve and throughout December in industrial action that could bring misery to millions of people hoping to send gifts and cards.

Last night the Communications Workers Union said it would not allow Royal Mail bosses ‘to destroy the livelihoods of postal workers’.

The union said workers would strike on December 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24.

The action comes as millions of people celebrating Christmas hope to use Royal Mail to deliver festive gifts and cards to loved ones, as well as order goods for parties and dinner parties. The CWU had already targeted Black Friday weekend with strikes scheduled for November 24, 25, 30 and December 1, when shoppers flock to online stores to sweep up pre-Christmas bargains.

A spokesman for the Communication Workers Union said: ‘The CWU wants a negotiated settlement with Royal Mail Group and will continue to engage the company to that end.

“But Royal Mail officials need to wake up and realize we won’t allow them to destroy the livelihoods of postal workers.”

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: ‘Our preference is for an agreement with the CWU, but the change we need is not optional.

“They should focus on resolving this dispute for their members and the long-term health of the company, rather than damaging strikes.”

News of the new strikes comes a day after Royal Mail said talks with the union to avert a strike had been extended.

Royal Mail, the UK branch of International Distribution Services, is embroiled in a bitter dispute with the CWU over wages and working conditions, which has resulted in several strike days this year.

Meanwhile, Royal Mail is accelerating plans to scrap Saturday letter deliveries by asking the government to consider changing postal laws to allow five-day-a-week operation.

The postal monopoly, which has a legal obligation under its “universal service obligation” to deliver letters six days a week, is seeking permission to “quickly switch to five-day letter delivery”.

Ending weekend deliveries would save the company £225m a year. It would also allow Royal Mail to focus on a seven-day-a-week parcel operation to better compete with tech-savvy rivals such as Amazon, he said.

As fewer people send letters and parcel deliveries soar due to growth in online goods sales, Royal Mail is trying to push through a host of changes to how it operates.

The CWU is resisting proposals to change work practices and automate the business to reduce costs. Union chiefs have also so far rejected a new pay deal worth up to 9% over the next two years.

Announcing the company’s half-year results on Thursday, Chairman Keith Williams said, “The difference between the performance of our two companies couldn’t be clearer.

“GLS [a subsidiary of Royal Mail] has adapted well to inflationary pressures in all its geographies. However, we have been at a crossroads with CWU in the UK for several months. We are now heading in a clear direction in light of Royal Mail’s substantial losses. »

Royal Mail UK operations recorded a loss of £219m in the six months to September 2022 compared to its overseas business which generated an operating profit of £162m.

The end of letter deliveries on Saturday is expected to provoke a backlash within Westminster, with backbench MPs on both sides of the political aisle likely to oppose plans to reform the service.

Simon Thompson, chief executive of Royal Mail, said: “We have always been clear that we need change to survive. We have started to turn the company around and will do whatever it takes. We have worked hard to deploy our contingency plans to minimize disruption to customers and impact on revenue.

“Our infrastructure plans are on time and we are now making the operational changes to transform Royal Mail into a thriving business that will provide excellent service to our customers at a competitive price and long term job security for our employees. . “We would prefer to reach an agreement with the CWU, but in any case we are moving forward with changes to transform our business.”

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