Postal workers will be striking against an “asset stripping plan” this week, in what they say is the largest strike of the year.
Around 115,000 Royal Mail workers, who are members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), will walk out of every office across the country on Thursday.
The union say the dispute is over the postal service’s senior management proposals for structural change, which would “effectively see 115,000 employees in secure, well-paid jobs be turned into a capsulised, financially precarious workforce overnight”.
One proposal includes “delaying the arrival of post to members of the public by three hours” – an idea workers say is “playing reckless with their lives” when weighed against serious health and safety trouble during peak summer and winter months.
Other proposals include a dramatic reduction in workers’ sick pay, inferior terms for new employees, “total flexibility” for workers and other dramatic changes, which CWU called an “imposition”.
“Postal workers face the biggest ever assault on their jobs, terms and conditions in the history of Royal Mail,” said CWU general secretary Dave Ward.
“It is insulting the intelligence of every postal worker for Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson to claim that their change agenda is ‘modernisation’.”
“The public and businesses also face the end of daily deliveries and destruction of the special relationship that postal workers and the public have in every community in the UK.
The dispute, which began in spring 2022, escalated over previous weeks after the union said they were “threatened” management would withdraw on all legally binding national agreements, “unilaterally impose changes and side line union representatives”.
Following this, the union announced 19 further days of strike action in the build up to Christmas, with severe delays and disruption expected.
Mr Ward added: “It is nothing more than an asset stripping business plan that will see the break-up of the company and the end of Royal Mail as a major contributor to the UK economy.
“Royal Mail Group claim to be losing £1m a day. The CWU believe these figures need to be scrutinised.
“Royal Mail are setting a narrative here to present the company a financially unviable to set up the takeover by Vesa, a private equity firm based in Luxemburg. We will not just stand by and let that happen.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Three weeks ago, Royal Mail invited the CWU to enter talks through Acas to find a resolution to our change and pay dispute. We have not reached an agreement with the CWU on this request.
“Royal Mail is losing £1m a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands.
“The CWU leadership’s choice of damaging strike action over resolution is weakening the financial position of the company and threatening the job security of our postmen and women.
“We call on the CWU leaders to cancel their planned strike action and accept our invitation to enter talks through Acas without further delay.
“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”