The Communication Workers Union has today (Friday) served formal legal notice to Royal Mail of the intention to ballot members for strike action. Ballot papers will go out on Friday 27 September, and the ballot will close and the result announced on Wednesday 16 October. If there is a yes vote, the earliest that strike action could take place would be 23 October.
This is the first national strike ballot in Royal Mail since 2009 and will affect 115,000 postal workers in Royal Mail and Parcelforce (but not the Post Office, which is a separate company). The dispute is over pay, pensions and the impact of privatisation on job security, terms and conditions.
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary said: “The government’s privatisation agenda has destabilised everything. Postal workers are rightly concerned about their future so we want a legally-binding agreement on protections for jobs, terms and conditions – regardless of who owns the company. We don’t want a race to the bottom in the postal industry where companies compete on poverty pay, few employment rights and poor services simply to maximise payouts to wealthy shareholders. Without an agreement strikes are inevitable.”
“Royal Mail and Parcelforce workers deserve a fair pay rise and one that is not attached to unacceptable strings that include changes to pensions and a no-strike deal. The company made £403 million profit last year so it’s not about affordability – especially when the government says the company would pay out £133 million to shareholders next year if privatised.
“We want the company to recognise its main asset – its workers – who literally deliver the success of the business. This union still wants an agreement and we are hoping this strike ballot will focus the minds of Royal Mail and bring us to a legally binding deal that will protect the interests of postal workers for the long-term foreseeable future.”
Regardless of who owns the company, postal workers need protections for their terms and conditions. The union is determined to achieve a ground-breaking agreement that provides legally binding protections for terms and conditions for the foreseeable future and ensures any changes are negotiated with CWU.
Dave Ward said: “Attacks on terms and conditions and the threat of new employment models in a potential race to the bottom with competitors are a real risk for postal workers and we intend to achieve legally binding protections that mean the future of postal workers jobs are secure and Royal Mail continues to set the benchmark for pay and conditions in the postal industry.”
Pay and conditions
CWU has already rejected a below-inflation pay offer for 2013 which was linked to accepting major pension changes and a no strike deal. CWU is demanding a straightforward, above inflation, no-strings pay deal which 99% of workers voted for in a ballot in June.
Dave Ward said: “Royal Mail continues to prepare for privatisation with relentless rounds of budget cuts and there is no understanding that the pace of change can really only be led by how hard people can work. Postal workers are being driven to absorb absences, carry increasing amounts of mail and work harder than is possible in many cases. We have to change that culture and establish a new consensus on what constitutes a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.”
Royal Mail has created more concern for its staff by announcing new problems with its pension scheme. Despite the government taking control of the assets in 2012 to pave the way for privatisation, the company wants to use remaining assets to reduce its own contributions. The company completed a formal consultation in August and the union is calling for an agreed process to protect members’ benefits.
“There is a great hypocrisy in the way the scheme is being managed by Royal Mail” said Dave Ward. “The company wants to keep its contribution rate to 17% whilst maintaining managers’ benefits at 40%. They can afford higher contributions to protect postal workers’ benefits.”
For more information and access to a range of resources visit Royal Mail strike ballot.
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