After 100 volunteers called around 25,000 Postal Workers in a ‘National Call Out The Vote Phonebank’ day earlier this month, CWU workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of national postal strike action.
With a yes vote of 97.1% following a ballot of roughly 110,000 UK postal workers. This result represents the largest yes vote for national industrial action since the passing of the Trade union Act 2016. This result is also compounded by the large turnout of members, with 75.9% taking part in this ballot, smashing through the anti-trade union threshold rules passed in the same 2016 Act. The Act determines that a majority of those balloted must have returned their ballot paper, with the high threshold usually blocking trade unions from taking industrial action. The CWU previously beat the threshold in 2017, and has now done so for second time. The CWU is the only trade union in the UK to have passed the threshold.
“Just over one year ago the Royal Mail Group Board and the CWU agreed a blue print agreement for the future, a progressive agreement that included an historic pension solution, a mutual interest driven relationship and a joint vision for a successful postal service with social aims.
Today the new RMG leadership are breaking that agreement. Our members take honour seriously and have voted to fight for that agreement against those who now seek to break up the great British Postal service in the interest of fast track profit and greed. Integrity and pride still matters and we will not stand aside and see what we have spent our working lives building destroyed.”
– Terry Pullinger, Deputy General Secretary (Postal), CWU
The result is unprecedented in recent times, spelling disaster for the nation and in particular Royal Mail with the very real threat of a Christmas Post Strike. The vote for striking follows accusations that new Royal Mail CEO Rico Back has ripped up the agreement signed just a year ago with the CWU. They accuse Royal Mail of wanting to break up the company and scrap the Universal Service Obligation which mandates letters must be delivered 6 days a week for the same price to every household in the nation.
In turn, Royal Mail claim to be abiding by the agreement pointing to two pay rises and a cut in the working week by an hour.
“A ballot result for industrial action does not necessarily mean there will be industrial action. We are still in mediation with the CWU. Under our Dispute Resolution Procedure, set out in the Agenda for Growth, we are committed to reaching a resolution. No industrial action can be taken, and formal notification of industrial action cannot be given, before the conclusion of the Dispute Resolution Procedure.”
– Royal Mail
It’s easy to see why a postal strike would be disastrous for Royal Mail, they face increasing competition from couriers and with Amazon Shipping just launched with sub £2 prices this is the worst possible time for industrial action. Posties are naturally more concerned about their own pay and conditions, and for the nation a prolonged strike could quite well be the harbinger of an end to the Universal Postal Service even though that’s what it’s supposed to protect – the more money Royal Mail bleeds the more likely they are to be broken up with the profitable parcels business split from the letters business that it supports.
“This result sends a clear message to Royal Mail Group – Our members will not stand by as you rip up their terms and conditions and destroy the service they give to the public and businesses of the UK.
We would urge Royal Mail Group to now enter serious negotiations with this union. We also call on the public to get behind this dispute and your postal workers. We are very proud of our members today. They have stood by their union in record numbers and given hope to workers across the nation.”
– Dave Ward, General Secretary, CWU
Royal Mail are insisting on the mandatory mediation prior to any strikes taking place, but this does open the door to a postal strike in the very near future if the two sides can’t come to an agreement.