Strike action by workers with Royal Mail is continuing with members of the Communication Workers Union walking out for the second day in a row.
Millions of customers and thousands of businesses around the UK are facing widespread disruption as a result of the strikes, which began to coincide with Black Friday last week.
Around 115,000 Royal Mail workers are involved in the dispute which concerns pay and major changes to working conditions.
The union, (CWU), have announced further strikes for December 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and Christmas Eve.
The longstanding dispute has also recently seen workers take a unanimous no confidence vote in company CEO Simon Thompson.
Despite the dispute, Royal Mail has said that it wants customer services to return to normal “as quickly as possible”.
However, union leaders have accused bosses at the organisation of having adopted an “aggressive” strategy to the industrial action.
The company made what it termed its “best and final” offer on November 23, which they said would mean a 9% pay increase over 18 months for workers.
The CWU say the deal threatens turning Royal Mail into a ‘gig economy-style’ parcel courier reliant on casual labour as well as a real-terms, non-backdated 3.5% pay increase.
Other concerns include changes to conditions for workers including cuts to sick pay and removal of Sunday premium payments.
The union are calling for a number of measures including an improved 18-month pay deal and an alternative business strategy that would see Royal Mail Group grow as a company rather than adopt the so-called ‘gig economy-style’.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “Royal Mail bosses are risking a Christmas meltdown because of their stubborn refusal to treat their employees with respect.”
He also stated: “We will not accept that 115,000 Royal Mail workers – the people who kept us connected during the pandemic, and made millions in profit for bosses and shareholders – take such a devastating blow to their livelihoods.
“These proposals spell the end of Royal Mail as we know it, and its degradation from a national institution into an unreliable, Uber-style gig economy company.
“Make no mistake about it: British postal workers are facing an Armageddon moment.
“We urge every member of the public to stand with their postie, and back them like never before.”
Simon Thompson, Royal Mail’s chief executive said: “Talks have lasted for seven months and we have made numerous improvements and two pay offers, which would now see up to a 9% pay increase over 18 months alongside a host of other enhancements. This is our best and final offer.
“Negotiations involve give and take, but it appears that the CWU’s approach is to just take. We want to reach a deal, but time is running out for the CWU to change their position and avoid further damaging strike action tomorrow.
“The strikes have already added £100m to Royal Mail’s losses so far this year. In a materially loss making company, with every additional day of strike action we are facing the difficult choice of about whether we spend our money on pay and protecting jobs, or on the cost of strikes.”
Murray Lambell, eBay’s UK general manager, previously warned that the industrial action could be the final nail in the coffin for many small businesses.
He said: “The UK boasts one of the world’s most sophisticated e-commerce economies, with small businesses thriving by scaling up their retail operations online.
“But industrial action risks creating chaos at the worst time for businesses and families.
“Astronomical energy prices, rising interest rates and the blowback from political unrest has made it incredibly challenging for small businesses to operate right now.
“Adding industrial action, which is causing widespread disruption to deliveries and sales, at the most important time of year for trading, risks being the nail in the coffin for many small businesses.”