Royal Mail workers are striking this week over pay and conditions, in the latest of a series of walkouts.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said Royal Mail Group’s senior management have presented a “take-it-or-leave-it” proposal, which was rejected by the union’s national leadership.
If a compromise cannot be reached, walkouts are set to take place throughout the festive season, when the postal service is in high demand.
Is there a Royal Mail strike tomorrow?
Yes. Royal Mail workers are set to strike on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November – known as Black Friday.
They plan to walk out again on Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December. Cyber Monday is on 28 November.
These strikes are likely to affect deliveries during the year’s most popular shopping period, when many high-street and online retailers offer discounts.
A series of further strikes have also been planned by the CWU later in December, with the following dates affected:
- Friday 9 December
- Sunday 11 December
- Wednesday 14 December
- Thursday 15 December
- Friday 23 December
- Saturday 24 December
Are Post Offices open today?
Most post offices are expected to be open on the dates walkouts are taking place, although a few will be affected by the CWU action.
The most significant effect on national strike dates is that Royal Mail will not be delivering any letters, except for those sent by special delivery.
Royal Mail writes on its website: “Post Offices will be open and offering the usual range of services on days when strike action is taking place.
“On all days of Royal Mail strike action, collections by Royal Mail from Post Offices will be limited. Customers should expect delays to items sent on strike days and on the days immediately after strike action.”
Special Delivery parcels are also being prioritised, though Royal Mail adds: “However, we cannot guarantee delivery of all items by 9am or 1pm next day.”
Royal Mail has also promised to “prioritise the delivery of Covid test kits and medical prescriptions wherever possible” when strikes are taking place, alongside other Tracked24 parcels.
Any items posted in postboxes or Post Offices the day before, during or following strike dates are likely to be subject to delays.
Royal Mail advises its customers to:
- Post items as early as possible in advance of the strike dates;
- Continue to post items at post boxes or Post Offices, but be aware collections will be less frequent on days when strike action is taking place.
Postal deliveries – and collections from businesses, post offices and post boxes – should resume the day after each strike takes place.
Why are Royal Mail workers striking?
Members of the CWU have held a series of strikes in recent weeks, which the company said had cost £100m.
The CWU’s national postal executive had made proposals to help resolve the dispute, including an improved 18-month pay deal, a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, and a joint review of agreements and the relationship between the CWU and Royal Mail Group.
But on Wednesday, Royal Mail said it has made its “best and final offer” amid at resolving a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
The revised offer is said to include “extensive improvements” that have been made during the negotiations with the CWU, including an enhanced pay deal of up to 9 per cent over 18 months, offering to develop a new profit-share scheme for employees, and making voluntary redundancy terms more generous.
The company said it was also committing to no compulsory redundancies until the end of March 2023 at the earliest.
It is also offering to buy out a number of legacy allowances, make Sunday working voluntary, and stagger the introduction of later start and finish times over three years.
Seasonal working proposals would also be changed so that employees would work about two hours less a week in the summer, and two hours more in the winter.
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 per cent 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.”
CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “We are disappointed that instead of reaching a compromise to avoid major disruption, Royal Mail have chosen to pursue such an aggressive strategy.
“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.”
Mr Ward has previously said industrial action would continue in the run-up to Christmas unless the dispute was resolved.
The strikes come as Royal Mail reported pre-tax losses of £127m for the 26 weeks to 25 September. That compared with profits of £315m a year ago.
The company says the strike action has cost it £100m, with lower parcel volumes also to blame for the financial struggles.
Royal Mail has approached the Government about cutting letter deliveries to five days a week instead of the current six. A Government spokesperson said there are “no current plans to change the universal service”.