Royal Mail rattled by strike vote

After an overwhelming vote for strike action over pensions, pay and conditions by members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), rattled Royal Mail has said it is “committed to further talks as a matter of urgency, to reach agreement with the CWU”.

Last night, Royal Mail made an announcement to the Stock Market last night where it said, “Royal Mail is very disappointed by the announcement that CWU members have voted (89 per cent Yes) in favour of taking industrial action.  However, we note that with a 74 per cent turnout – and taking into account frontline employees who are not union members (18,000) – 57 per cent have backed a strike.

“A ballot result for industrial action does not necessarily mean there will be industrial action. Royal Mail is committed to further talks as a matter of urgency, to reach agreement with the CWU. There are no grounds for industrial action. We want to reach agreement. Post Office is a separate business from Royal Mail and its employees are not involved in this dispute.

“In 2013, Royal Mail and the CWU committed to the Agenda for Growth (AFG) – a legally binding agreement. Royal Mail has brought to the CWU’s attention the contractual dispute resolution procedures included in the AFG, which both sides are required to follow once instigated. They escalate to independent external mediation, which we expect will take close to Christmas to be completed, and may be longer. We believe these dispute resolution procedures must be followed. The union cannot take industrial action until they have been completed.

“Industrial action is damaging for our business. It undermines the trust of our customers. It makes it harder to pay for the great terms and conditions we provide for our employees. National industrial action means the current offer from Royal Mail, including on pensions, will be taken off the table.”

Royal Mail then attempted to defend its proposals for pay and pensions: “Under its proposals, Royal Mail would continue to provide the best pay and terms and conditions in the industry by some distance. We are not proposing to change our core terms and conditions or our commitment to a predominantly permanent workforce. Many competitors pay around the National Living Wage. Royal Mail pays 45-50% more than this.

“We have offered to continue working towards a new pay deal, including an increase of up to 5% over two years, depending on productivity improvements, flexibility and a small number of trials. We are offering to replace our Defined Benefit pension scheme – the Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP) – with another type of Defined Benefit scheme. RMPP members would also have the choice to join a Defined Contribution scheme instead if they wished to do so. We have also proposed significant improvements for members of the Royal Mail Defined Contribution Plan, with a maximum Company contribution of 10%. We are also discussing how we can be more flexible to offer the services our customers want, including next day delivery for items ordered late in the evening.”

The first strike could well be set for Black Friday, which would cripple the postal operator at a critical moment in its annual peak season.  
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