Unite on Royal Mail: Our members have had enough

Unite on Royal Mail: Our members have had enough

Royal Mail faces UK-wide strikes this summer over plans to remove 542 frontline delivery managers, Unite the union said today. Royal Mail has said: “There are no grounds for industrial action.”

About 2,400 managers across over 1,000 delivery offices have voted by 86 % for strike action and by 91 % for industrial action short of a strike – and the union warned that letter and parcel delivery chaos was inevitable. In Northern Ireland, Unite’s members voted by 89 % for strike action and 88 % for industrial action short of a strike.

Unite said that it would announce strike dates in the coming days and called for the management to return to the negotiating table to reach a settlement to avoid disruption.

Unite claims that the job cuts are driven by shareholder greed, despite the service returning a record £416 million in profits only months ago – up by 20.9 %. The union also fears that the business’s cuts threaten the universal service obligation whereby it must deliver to every household in the UK six days per week.

The ballot result comes after Unite members rejected proposals because Royal Mail bosses, who have already cut 420 jobs, have refused to row back from their demand for 542 further jobs to go, continue to undermine agreed existing pay arrangements and are failing to act on the ‘long hours’ culture prevalent in the company.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is no surprise at all that these workers have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action. Make no mistake, Royal Mail is awash with cash – there is no need whatsoever to sack workers, drive down pay or pursue this ill-thought out redeployment programme. 

These plans are all about boardroom greed and profiteering and nothing whatsoever to do with securing this vital public service. Shareholders have been seizing the Royal Mail profits, while our members have been holding the service together. Enough is enough.

“Our Royal Mail members are guaranteed Unite’s 100 per cent support in any industrial action they take this summer to get the company off this ruinous path.”

A recent survey of Unite members revealed that the current service is built on unpaid work by the postal managers and can ill-afford to lose more managers from the workforce. Members regularly go without lunch breaks, work unpaid at weekends and even forego annual leave to provide the public with a service. Unite firmly believes these changes do nothing to assist these issues   

Unite national officer with responsibility for Royal Mail, Mike Eatwell added: “Our members have had enough.  They are pivotal to the smooth running of the Royal Mail’s operations and therefore strike action will cause severe disruption to services.

“As our recent survey highlighted, the Royal Mail is already running on fumes, depending on an outrageous amount of unpaid hours by our members to keep services operating. But they have had enough of poor treatment and not being listened to.

“Senior management at Royal Mail has lost the support of their own managers and need to reflect carefully on their next steps.  They need to come back to the negotiating table with a set of constructive proposals, otherwise strike action will go-ahead causing chaos to letter and parcel deliveries across the UK.”

Coming out of the pandemic where Unite’s members worked tirelessly to ensure that the mail got delivered and collected, including personally assisting deliveries, when Covid depleted postal operative numbers, Royal Mail senior management has rewarded them by increasing the workload, relocating them unreasonably and destroying their career progression.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by the announcement that Unite/CMA members have voted in favour of both industrial action and industrial action short of a strike, also known as work to rule.  Unite have stated they will be informing us in due course in relation to the terms of any industrial action.

“Throughout the ballot process, Unite head office has misled members about additional job losses. This is not true. Unite has ignored our request to correct these claims.

“There are no grounds for industrial action. The extended consultation on these changes concluded earlier this year, and the restructuring is complete. We committed to protecting pay for all managers who stay with Royal Mail, and the vast majority will see an increase in their earnings. We allowed managers to request voluntary redundancy with a package of up to two years’ salary, which was over-subscribed. We also made several concessions during the process, which Unite declined.

“The ballot covers around a third of our 6,000 managers and we have contingency plans in place to keep letters and parcels moving in the event of a strike.”

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