Royal Mail goes to the wire with union over strike threat

Royal Mail is in urgent talks with its main postal workers union to avert a national strike. The postal operator is expected to report record profits yet is offering its workers a pay rise that is well below inflation.

The strikes are threatened because management want to move towards a seven-day delivery week for all parcels to compete with specialist last mile delivery firms like Yodel and DPD. At the same time it is offering a 3.5% pay rise to its workers, 115,000 of whom are in the Communications Workers Union (CWU). Additionally, those who meet performance targets will get a 2% bonus.

The CWU meanwhile wants a ‘no strings’ pay rise in line with inflation that currently sits at 10%. Currently the two sides are in a formal dispute resolution process to try to agree a deal.

Should both sides not agree, the CWU will ballot its members in early June – this would be the first national strike in almost 10 years. Union sources have told the media that the talks are currently in deadlock.

While trying to keep staff costs down, Royal Mail is set to see profits rocket to £720 million from £664 million the previous year. Currently UK national private sector wage inflation is at around 11% and unemployment levels are the lowest they have been since 1974. Royal Mail is part of that private sector in a large part now and will have to compete for good staff who could get better pay and conditions for other companies.

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