The main trade union at Royal Mail has served notice for a strike ballot among 110,000 workers.
The Communication Workers Union is in dispute with the postal delivery company over issues including threats to the universal service obligation, which means that post is delivered at uniform prices across Britain six days a week, and claims that the “four pillars agreement” reached between the union and Royal Mail last year has been breached. The agreement includes pay rises, new pension proposals and a pledge to reduce weekly working hours from 39 to 35 by 2022, dependent on productivity improvements.
Royal Mail workers last took part in national strikes ten years ago, when it was state-owned. The company employs 143,000 people in Britain.
Terry Pullinger, deputy general secretary of the CWU, said: “This union and its membership are in the fight of our lives. We face an assault on our terms, conditions and national agreements like we have never seen before.” The union’s members will vote next week, with the result set to be declared on October 15.
Royal Mail said that it was honouring last year’s agreement, awarding two pay increases of 5 per cent and 2 per cent and granting the first hour’s reduction in a shorter working week.
“Industrial action — or the threat of it — undermines the trust of our customers,” the company said. “It makes it harder for Royal Mail to pay for the existing industry-leading terms and conditions it provides.” The company added that it had worked with the CWU to lobby the government for a new pension scheme and that it planned to invest about £1.8 billion in Britain over the next five years.