CWU Postal Strikes set to hit Royal Mail this October

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It would appear that CWU postal workers will walk out on strike. The strike is planned to start at noon on the 19th of October for 48 hours when Royal Mail workers will down tools for the first time since 2009. The industrial action follows the ballot where 89.1% of CWU postal workers voted in favour of industrial action and will impact mail for three days, from lunchtime on Thursday 19th October through to Saturday 21th October 2017.

“We are determined to take whatever steps are necessary to deliver an agreement that will protect and enhance our member’s terms and conditions and improve the range of services on offer to customer”.
– CWU general secretary Dave Ward

Royal Mail dispute that the strike will be legal and a spokesperson told us “We believe any strike action before the dispute resolution procedures have been followed would be unlawful strike action“.

The External Mediation Process

  1. Formal notice of a referral to external mediation from one party to the other;
  2. The appointment of an external mediator through the mutually agreed process and;
  3. A comprehensive mediation process which includes the mediator preparing a detailed report, including recommendations for both parties.

None of these processes have happened yet and it’s likely Royal Mail may take legal action to ban the strike although that will just infuriate the CWU further.

In 2013, Royal Mail and the CWU committed to a legally binding agreement the ‘Agenda for Growth’. This agreement contains contractual dispute resolution procedures. Both sides are required to follow them once instigated. They escalate to independent external mediation, which Royal Mail say they’d expect will take close to Christmas to be completed, and may be longer.

“Royal Mail will be writing to the CWU invoking the external mediation process under the dispute resolution procedures in the Agenda for Growth. These legally-binding dispute resolution procedures were set up as a vehicle to resolve industrial disputes. We wish to use them to do just that. Royal Mail will use all legal options at its disposal, including applying to the High Court for an injunction to prevent industrial action”.
– Royal Mail

Sadly it appears very unlikely that strikes won’t take place, even if they proposed action on the 19th October is called off. Dave Ward of the CWU has described the negotiations as a “Watershed Dispute” saying that it will determine the future of the postal service. The union seem less interested in negotiating a deal that will work for posties and instead more focused on a wider agenda which objects to everything including the privatisation of the Royal Mail.

Regardless of what happens, this is going to be terrible news for the Royal Mail. Whilst we have every sympathies with posties if they feel that they’re not getting paid fairly, we’re equally as sympathetic to the businesses who their action threatens to destroy. Many businesses will simply stick two fingers up to the CWU industrial action and take their ecommerce shipments to other providers of which there are plenty.

If you ship Royal Mail Tracked 24 or Tracked 48 there should be little difficulty making alternative carrier arrangements. If you use large letters then finding alternatives may require some compromise on price or service speed but for those with the lightest large letters or standard letter post there is little alternative without a huge price increase and you may be forced to sit out the strikes and lose money.

Public sympathy for previous Royal Mail strikes

It’s worth noting that in the past the general public were remarkably tolerant of Royal Mail strikes right up until the last strikes in 2009 when support was muted at best and mainly non-existent. The country simply got fed up with being held to ransom on what turned out to be postal strikes every second year and just wanted their Christmas present purchases to be delivered.

In today’s economic environment where few workers have had a significant pay rise in years and everyone is feeling the economic pinch, I’m predicting that support from the public isn’t going to overwhelming side with the posties. I may be wrong, but people will be looking at how if impacts their own businesses or whether it delays items they purchase online and they won’t be impressed.

The likely impact of strikes on Royal Mail

For the Royal Mail strikes could be devastating. If many businesses move their parcels to myHermes, Pass my Parcel, Yodel, DPD, or other carriers there is a strong likelihood that they’ll never return to Royal Mail. They may decide they like the cost model, the service or the price and why would they return to a service that saw industrial action at the busiest time of the year?

Dave Ward is right, this dispute will determine the future of the postal service. Unfortunately the Union appear to be hell bent on ‘smashing it to bits‘ (in the words of as Deputy General secretary of the CWU Terry Pullinger) rather than relinquishing any ground and negotiating.

32 Responses

  1. An article in The Guardian news paper, expertly written by Poll Toynbee explains the importance of this stand by the C.W.U. Please read before you make any judgement.

  2. It might be a stand but this is the last thing small business need right now.

    Strikes are all very well, but the people striking forget how it can effect others and I believe it’s actually very selfish.

    Our country is falling apart at the minute and I for one am getting tired of everyone fighting each other, rather than trying to work together.

    For me after months of arguments with RM I am now leaving and taking £200k worth of business with me as this is the last thing we need right now, sadly it will more than likely end up costing people their jobs as companies like mine take their business elsewhere.

  3. This article is very biased towards Royal Mail…it’s all well and good for people to switch to yodel etc as they are cheaper..yodel don’t pay a living wage 50p a packet ,they don’t give a pension they don’t give sick pay ..therefore they can undercut and destroy Royal Mail..until the government make company’s compete on a level playing field..Royal Mail is doomed…whilst this might not concern a lot of people at first..just think once Royal Mail goes are you going to receive Mail..not one other company wants to deliver letters..there’s no profit in it…if you believe you will be able to send a letter from lands end to John o groats for 65p your sadly deluded

  4. As a postman of 14 years, on 28 hours a week, I earn £260 a week. My payrise should not be based on productivity as I have got no control in that. Regarding pensions, you pay in and you expect to get back what you have been promised. To cut a small story short, my bug bear is these terms and conditions:

    I don’t want to be told on a Tuesday your working 3 hours and on a Wednesday you are working 8 hours (I mean walking not in the Post Office).
    Or starting at 7am on one day and starting at 12pm on another day.

    How many people would walk around for £260 a week when facing weather such as heavy rain, blazing heat and snowey conditions, on top of being asked to walk for longer hours on certain days.

    Ps the wider community has 3 choices;
    1. To realise the Royal Mail workers feelings and how they are being treated
    2. Order your parcels from another carrier as parcels will not be delivered for weeks or not turn up
    3. Dont spend hours on your computer, take the wife and kids shoppings on a Sunday and get some exercise.

  5. It’s interesting how few people inside and outside of Royal Mail know who governs the postal system. I would advise everyone to have a google for “EU postal regulation”. The first result should be the EU’s own website.

    Royal Mail was privatised because the EU wanted it to be privatised to open up competition. It’s not a coincidence that Deutsche Post, La Poste, Poste Italiane, etc are all going through or have gone through the same process.

    If anyone ever actually reads Royal Mail’s press releases or QoS reports you’d soon realise that their performance is also governed by the EU. The EU seems to consider tracking on the universal service to be an unfair advantage / state assistance which appears to be the reason why the new 2D barcodes don’t offer proper tracking (if you read the terms for Special Delivery, Tracked 24/48, etc they’re technically not part of the universal service).

    Even mentioning the Tories or Labour in these arguments is pointless as everyone’s hands are tied until after Brexit. If you’re an old school leftie who wants Royal Mail re-nationalised then we have to leave the EU first (hence Corbyn’s stance). If you’re a rightie who just wants cheaper prices then you’ll have to hope that after Brexit the chains are removed from Royal Mail and they can go to town on their competitors.

  6. Maybe these “poor” posties would rather be speeding around in clapped out ex-taxis, trying to deliver parcels for Hermes, with two and a half minutes for each drop???

    You guys got a gold plated settlement and shares at privatisation.

    Do you really think you’ll get any more?

    You are EMPLOYEES of a private company now. You do what they tell you to do and at the terms they offer. You do not have the right to tell employers how to run their business, however much you disagree.

    I’d sack the lot of you forthwith and whistle up some people who cared about their customers and had pride in their job.

    If you don’t like it, **** off and get another job and stop trying to bring this country to its knees.

    The people of this country will fight back and resist the attempts of Unite, CWU and others of Mccluskys mob to turn the clock back to the 1970’s.

    You will not win.

    The honest, decent, hard working, majority of Britain will not allow the unions to win and take this country over.

    We got through two wars, we will see you lot off no worries.

  7. There is no fair playing field for Royal Mail. They have to deliver to every address in the UK and compete on price against everyone offering poor pay and conditions and who do not have the infrastructure to cope with the peaks. Then, when they can’t cope, these carriers all switch to Royal Mail to get their stuff delivered.

  8. I have been a postman for 30 years and the past five years have been the worst working conditions I have ever experienced. This dispute is not about pay it is about the working conditions that we all as posties are going through. Bullying from management on average a 9 hour day on your feet with a 10 minute break and several other issues. This cannot go on.

  9. so if striking is or was the answer
    Royal Mail workers problems would have been sorted years ago they have had so many strikes

  10. Interesting to read an interview with Moyà Greene as she took over Royal Mail , ” at the end of the day your people are going to be your best ambassadors for change, they have the biggest stake in your success, if your not successful , their job security, their retirement income security are in jeopardy and 95% of people get that ”

    so posties are striking because their job security and pensions are in jeopardy ,
    Also potentially putting others in jeopardy

    So according to herself she has been a failure and must go !
    CEOs what a bunch of overpaid Morons

  11. Yeah you lazy bunch of no good so and sos , don’t stand up for yourselves , my missus really needs that vibrator next day , by the way she won’t be in when you deliver and she’ll take a week to come and pick it up hahaha !

  12. Royal mail health and safety is a joke walking for 5-8 hours a day how the hell can u do that your feet are sore backs killing you no toilet facilities got to do toilet behind walls and bushes being burnt in the summer and getting frostbite on your fingers if someone phones in sick you’ve got to do thier delivery 4 hours should be the maximum any postie should walk Christmas is a joke we don’t even get asked if we want overtime its forced on u that needs to change royal mail can bring in thousands of causal workers at Xmas for mail centres but not delivery staff outdoor Postie’s get a raw deal these people that say strike is wrong well just try and be a postie then walking 5- 8 hours a day

  13. Paul, you sure you want to compete on a level playing field? That means worse conditions and pay for you.
    Has no one figured out yet that business no longer needs Royal Mail. You have competition. You have people who will do the work being glad to take the work off you. Makes their jobs more secure.

    If Royal Mail is so bad to work for, why do you guys want to work for it? Get a job elsewhere.

    When Royal Mail next decides to cut it’s workforce do not expect sympathy for a strike. Your current strike action will be all the excuse needed.

  14. I have been a postman for 36 yrs good job but last 5 yrs it’s gone down hill managers are useless my time starts at 6.15am till 2pm they want to changed this to 10am to 6 pm I don’t think the public want this plus am going to lose pay around about £ 40 as they getting rid of certain payments as for Pension well that stinks they say it’s to dearer but.the bosses are raking in the money all got new cars let’s sort it out strike is the only way to tell them we mean business. We may loose customers but they soon come back RM is the best to deliver in all weather’s Amozan are crap we get it all leading up to xmas let’s go for it we are the best STRIKE

  15. my time starts at 6.15am till 2pm they want to changed this to 10am to 6 pm… Unfortunately this is indirectly what the public want. They want later order cut off times from retailers for next day delivery. You can’t buy online at midnight and have it next day if it’s not in the depot when you start your round. The later you start means the later people can buy online.

    I’m not saying it’s right or wrong for posties. But on this point Royal Mail are right that they need to do next day deliveries if they don’t want to lose the businesses to couriers who can.

    Something even more frightening for your working hours – at some point the public are going to say “We want evening deliveries when we’re home from work” and you know what some courier or other will offer the service. Royal Mail will have to compete or die (at least for parcels business ie the profitable part) which means some posties will have to work the cold dark evening shift in the winters!

    Two choices, Royal Mail can stick to losing money on letters which are delivered (used to be early in the day but now) by lunch time, or they can adapt to win parcel business.

    What Royal Mail have failed to do is to sell their vision to employees and make them partners on the journey and instead have a workforce with no appetite for change who feel alienated.

    As for your pension being to expensive to maintain the current arrangements… Check out the CWU who are about to scrap their own pension scheme as they’ve also discovered it’s too expensive to maintain. I mean it’s a joke that the CWU can’t afford to keep theirs but they expect Royal Mail to keep the current arrangement!!

  16. We have been adviced that after this strike the next strike is over Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Not the best of timing and will have an impact on us and many others.

  17. This only plays into Amazons hands, people just do not care anymore. You can understand people getting fed up with their working conditions with bosses like Moya we have to many like that now in the UK (she needs to go now).
    However people just do not care anymore, they want their next day delivery and without hassles so I doubt the posties will get any public sympathy. I ended up leaving a previous job as they were never going to pay anyone a decent wage unless it was those at the top.
    The Posties do have to evolve with the times but on the other hand they should not be treated the way they are by RMG Mis-management ( my friend who I used to work with is a Postie in Aberdeen, and he says the managers are pretty awful). people should get a decent wage and decent working conditions.

    We send 99% Large letter so this effects us a lot, but we will just ship more into FBA.
    Am fed up of RMG issues as a customer (everything should be tracked by now). Time to join the 21st century, were still dealing with the same rubbish we have had to 10 years ago.

    Most marketplaces will be fine and people know there will be issues, all apart from the normal suspect eBay who will be the main issue as normal. We might just shut up shop for a couple of days as the backlogs will be a nightmare. We do not have a Union to run off too.

  18. I am in two minds on this, there appears to be a worrying trend with large Companies treating their workers poorly, or at least these things seem to appear in the news more frequently of late. There is no excuse for that, happy staff should equal a high performance company. If the Royal Mail staff are genuinely being poorly treated compared to others in the same business, then that obviously needs sorting out.

    On the flip side, I have had involvement with Trade Unions (not this particular one) in years gone by. The Company was in trouble at the time, loss making with a workforce comprised almost entirely of former Civil Servants. The attitude of the Union was, and I paraphrase – you are the management, you can change whatever you want to, provided you don’t change anything. An appalling and quite frankly unbelieveable attitude, straight out of the 1970’s.

    The real issue underneath many of these disputes is that life moves on, markets change, customers want different services etc. EVERY company has to be alive to these things in order to stay ahead, or at least keep up with the game.

    Resisting market changes, particularly when those around are embracing them, is no different to trying to hold back the tide !

    I am sure some of the changes are unwelcome to the RM Staff, but going straight to strike action and ignoring the contractually agreed mediation mechanism is ridiculous. The sides need to get around the table with the management in mediation as the Union has agreed to do, and start working it out. Whilst at the mediation, it would be really wise if the Union/Staff could be honest with themselves on what the customers really want, because ultimately, unless that is met, the end result for the staff is going to be far worse than whatever is being presented by the management now.

    I use Royal Mail for all of my shipping requirements and am happy with the service I have received. Its not 100% perfect, but then nobody else is either. I would rather carry on using Royal Mail, but if my business is going to suffer because the service becomes unreliable, then I will have no option to move elsewhere.

    I hope a shared vision of the customer requirements can be agreed, with common sense then being applied as to how to meet that requirement with the minimum of disruption to the customers, and of course, with the minimum of upset and stress to the RM staff. In short, the management must be open, fair and honest, and the Unions must recognise the realities of the marketplace, and not stick their heads in the sand pretending its still the 70’s.

  19. I just seen the news that the court has made the right decision………..

    I will consider switching SOME of my dispatches back to RM now.


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