More than 100,000 postal workers are to strike from Friday in what the leader of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) declared as “the biggest strike in the UK since 2009”.
Around 115,000 members of the CWU – which represents Royal Mail Group workers – are beginning industrial action on Friday as they demand a “dignified, proper pay rise”.
This will be followed by further strike action on Wednesday August 31, Thursday September 8, and Friday September 9.
The decision follows the union’s recent ballot for strike action over pay, which saw members vote by 97.6% on a 77% turnout to take action.
The union is demanding that Royal Mail Group make an adequate pay award that covers the current cost of living increases for our members.
Management imposed a 2% pay rise on employees, who were classified as key workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, through executive action earlier this summer.
The union say that in an economic climate where inflation looks set to soar to 18% by January 2023, the imposition would lead to a dramatic reduction in workers’ living standards.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said that Royal Mail workers are “sick of corporate failure getting rewarded”, warning “serious disruptions will continue” unless the company make efforts to “get real” on discussing a pay rise.
Mr Ward said: “On Friday, we will see a tremendous outpouring of workers’ unity in villages, towns and cities across the country.
“There can be no doubt that postal workers are completely united in their determination to secure the dignified, proper pay rise they deserve.
“We can’t keep on living in a country where bosses rake in billions in profit while their employees are forced to use food banks.
“When Royal Mail bosses are raking in £758m in profit and shareholders pocketing in excess of £400m, our members won’t accept pleads of poverty from the company.
“Postal workers won’t meekly accept their living standards being hammered by greedy business leaders who are completely out of touch with modern Britain.
“They are sick of corporate failure getting rewarded again and again.
“Royal Mail’s leadership have lost the dressing room – and unless they make efforts to get real on discussing a pay rise that postal workers deserve, serious disruption will continue.”
CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger added: “Our members worked miracles during the pandemic and know full well what they are worth.
“They are fighting for a no strings, real-terms pay rise – something they are fully entitled to.
“Those managing Royal Mail Group are treating our members with contempt by imposing such a minimal amount.
“Royal Mail Group have failed to recognise the strength of feeling and have clearly lost the dressing room on pay, so they have left us with no choice but to fight.
“Our members deserve a pay rise that rewards their fantastic achievements in keeping the country connected during the pandemic, but also helps them keep up during this current economic crisis.
“We won’t be backing down until we get just that.”
On Thursday, a Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Tomorrow’s CWU strike thrusts Royal Mail into the most uncertain time of its 500-year history.
“It is putting jobs at risk and making pay rises less affordable. We are losing £1m a day.
“We must change to fix the situation and protect high quality jobs.
“We want to protect well-paid, permanent jobs long-term and retain our place as the industry leader on pay, terms and conditions. That is in the best interests of Royal Mail and all its employees.
“We apologise to our customers, and the public for the inconvenience the CWU’s strike action will cause.
“We have offered to meet the CWU numerous times in recent weeks, but they declined each invitation, preferring to spend their time on the political agenda of the UK trade union movement.
“We remain ready to talk with the CWU to try and avert damaging industrial action and prevent significant inconvenience for customers.”