Royal Mail staff are staging a series of strikes in November and December in an escalating row over pay, jobs and working conditions.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) formally notified Royal Mail of its intentions to stage industrial action last month and has since confirmed new strike dates in December.
Walkouts are taking place on 24, 25 and 30 November and then on 1, 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24, impacting Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and potentially placing Christmas present deliveries in jeopardy.
The postal service has apologised to customers, saying that although it has “well-developed contingency plans” it is unable to “fully replace the daily efforts of our frontline workforce”.
“We’ll be doing what we can to keep services running, but we are sorry this planned strike action is likely to cause you some disruption,” the company said on its website.
Royal Mail has, however, pledged to deliver as many Special Delivery and Tracked 24 parcels as possible on strike days and to prioritise the delivery of Covid-19 test kits and medical prescriptions where possible.
It advised customers to post their items as early as possible ahead of strike dates and to continue to leave their items in post boxes and at Post Offices, with the caveat that fewer collections will be taking place because of the strikes.
Explaining the reason behind the strikes, CWU general secretary Dave Ward has previously said: “Posties are in the fight of their lives against the Uberisation of Royal Mail and the destruction of their conditions.
“But 115,000 of our members will not just accept this war on their livelihoods and their industry.”
A Royal Mail spokesman responded: “On Monday 31 October, Royal Mail proposed a new pay-for-change offer to the CWU worth nine per cent over two years, despite making a loss of £219m in the first half of the year.
“The CWU have been in talks with us at Acas and claim they are open to change but they now need to show it.
“Instead, the CWU have announced four days of strike action, which will damage our business further at our busiest time of year.
“The CWU is playing a dangerous game with its members’ jobs and the future of Royal Mail.
“We urge CWU to withdraw these strikes for the good of our customers and our people.
“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause.
“We are doing all we can to minimise delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”