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Deliveries and collections will ‘shut down’ during mail strike, union warns

The Independent logo The Independent 10/08/2022 Lauren Gilmour
Post Office workers strike © PA Wire Post Office workers strike

All Royal Mail deliveries and collections will be “shut down” across Scotland during four days of strike action, a union has warned.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said services will be disrupted as a result of the industrial action, set to take place on August 26 and 31 as well as September 8 and 9 in a dispute over pay.

But Royal Mail insists contingency arrangements will be in place during the strikes and Covid testing kits will continue to be delivered.

Royal Mail said workers have been offered a 5.5% rise, but the union said that reflects a 2% pay increase, a further 1.5% in exchange for a change in terms and conditions, and a £500 bonus.

Scottish regional secretary of the CWU Craig Anderson told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday that negotiations have broken down.

“We’re taking this action because we’ve been given no other option,” he said.

“The negotiations started in February regarding a pay rise for the workers within Royal Mail and the negotiations have broken down.

“They’ve imposed a 2% pay award without agreement.

Our members don't want to go on strike but we've been given no other choice

Craig Anderson, CWU Scotland

“They offered another 1.5% based on signing away terms and conditions, and a further £500 as a bonus for having targets that they knew weren’t achievable. So there was never a 5.5% pay offer put on the table.”

He called on Royal Mail to “sit back round the table” and look at where members stand regarding the cost-of-living crisis.

He added: “A fair offer from our perspective would be for them to sit back round the table with us and actually look at where or what comes out at the moment with a cost-of-living crisis, where the company’s been with the profits that they’ve made, and actually start negotiating on a percentage pay raise that reflects that.”

The CWU is among several unions taking strike action this summer in demands for increased pay offers for workers in light of the rising cost of living.

The union also has an ongoing pay dispute with BT.

Mr Anderson said it would be difficult to come to a figure due to the uncertainty surrounding inflation, with the most recent figure sitting at 9.4%.

“The difficulty we have at the moment is we don’t know where inflation will be tomorrow, never mind where it will be in six months’ time.

“Our members don’t want to go on strike but we’ve been given no other choice. We’re at gridlock at the moment and, as I say, we’d be quite happy to sit back round the table to discuss a pay offer.”

Royal Mail said the CWU has “failed to engage” in discussions about changes that are needed to modernise the company, such as Sunday working as standard, extended overnight windows, and flexible working such as reduced hours during the summer and extended hours over the busy Christmas period.

A spokesman said: “Industrial action is a significant act of self-harm. Unlike some other sectors like rail, our customers have many choices. Even since our last strike in 2009, the market has changed markedly. Our retail customers can switch their volume to our competitors at the press of a button and they will press that button if they need to.

“We have a 97% permanent workforce. We pay up to 40% more than our competitors. And our people work for us for, on average, 17 years, reflecting the fact that working for Royal Mail is about more than just finding a short-term job to pay the bills. People stay and build careers with us.

“Our industry is very competitive, and our customers are price-sensitive. We have to deliver high quality at a lower cost. We can’t charge our customers 40% more, so it is up to us to demonstrate the value and quality they get with Royal Mail. We also need to find better and more efficient ways of working so we can compete on price and protect jobs long term.”

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