Striking postal workers have said Royal Mail claimed there wasn’t enough money for a pay rise – and then made an offer that would “significantly change” their terms and conditions for the worse.
More than 115,000 postal workers went on strike last Friday and Wednesday and were due to strike today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday), after being given a 2% rise, (writes local democracy reporter Belinda Ryan).
The basic salary for a full time postal worker is under £25,000. One member of the Communications Union told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the company had backtracked on its promises.
Speaking from the picket line at Crewe, he said: “During the pandemic our CEO said we deserved a pay rise, we’d done a wonderful job over the last two and half years – which everyone has, working seven days a week.
“Now he’s said there isn’t enough money for a pay rise.
“This year they announced they made £758m profit, then a £400m dividend was given out to shareholders and the next thing that comes out from the company is we can’t afford it, we’re imposing a two% pay rise.
“The union said we require some more. Then Royal Mail comes up with their 5.5% offer, but for the other 3.5% they turned round and said we want new working conditions.”
The worker said in May 2020 staff had agreed to “lots of changes” suggested by management and now the company was trying to renege on those agreements.
He said the changes would make terms and conditions already agreed – such as sick pay and Sunday working – worse for the workers.
Another postal worker told the LDRS: “They haven’t said you’ll get a new contract but that’s the issue behind it.
“There’s two issues really. Today we’re striking over pay. We’ve also balloted for strike action over terms and conditions and that will come later but we’re hoping in the talks they can settle the two issues but, as it stands at the moment, Royal Mail is refusing to come to the table to talk, as of yesterday.”
The workers on the Crewe picket line apologised for any inconvenience caused to customers and said the last thing they wanted to do was strike but the offer was not acceptable – especially in the midst of a cost of living crisis.
They added they had received a lot of support from the public.
“Some people have just come out to the picket line to say they support us, others have backed us on social media,” said another worker, as passing drivers tooted their horns loudly to show their support.
Royal Mail said the strike was putting jobs at risk.
In a statement issued the day before the strike, a spokesperson said: “We are losing £1m a day. We must change to fix the situation and protect high quality jobs.
“The change we need is the change the public demand of us. They want more and bigger parcels delivered the next day – including Sundays – and more environmentally friendly options. They want this at a competitive price, with great quality of service. We cannot cling to outdated working practices, ignoring technological advancements and pretending that Covid has not significantly changed what the public wants from Royal Mail.”
He added: “While our competitors work seven days a week, delivering until 10pm to meet customer demand, the CWU want to work fewer hours, six days a week, starting and finishing earlier.”
“We have offered to meet the CWU numerous times in recent weeks, but it declined each invitation, preferring to spend its 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. But any talks must be about both change and pay.”