Postal workers in the UK launch Black Friday strike as industrial action sweeps the country

by | Nov 25, 2022 | Business

LONDON – Strikers from the CWU Trade Union attend the picket line at Peckham Royal Mail centre on November 24, 2022 in London, England. Strikes planned for the Black Friday weekend and the run-up to Christmas will go ahead after talks between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union ended without agreement.Guy Smallman/Getty ImagesLONDON — Thousands of postal workers in the U.K. are on a two-day strike, disrupting Black Friday after talks between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union fell through.Leaders of the trade union, which represents around 115,000 striking postal workers, re-entered negotiations with Royal Mail executives early last month, with talks now having spanned seven months.However, Royal Mail Group — recently renamed International Distributions Services on the London Stock Exchange — said in a statement Wednesday that it had tabled its “best and final offer” and accused the union of “holding Christmas to ransom.”The CWU has announced 10 further days of strike action up until Christmas Eve, of which four have been formally notified, with the last falling on Dec. 1.In October, Royal Mail revealed plans to cut up to 10,000 jobs by next summer and posted a half-year adjusted operating loss of £219 million ($265.3 million), and CEO Simon Thompson said the strikes had already added £100 million to the company’s losses so far this year. IDS shares have fallen more than 58% since the start of the year.”In a materially loss-making company, with every additional day of strike action we are facing the difficult choice of whether we spend our money on pay and protecting jobs, or on the cost of strikes,” Thompson said Wednesday.”The CWU’s planned strike action is holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country, and is putting their own members’ jobs at risk.”The union on Wednesday said it met with Royal Mail executives, but claimed Thompson did not attend. In a statement, the CWU warned of “the end of Royal Mail as we know it.”Royal Mail claims its latest offer includes an enhanced pay deal of up to 9% over 18 months, a new profit share program for employees, a block on compulsory redundancies until the end of March 2023 and an improvement to voluntary redundancy packages.However, the union accused the company’s executives of “turning Royal Mail Group into a gig economy-style parcel courier, reliant on casual labour,” imposing compulsory redundancies on postal workers while retaining agency staff on lower pay, and offering a “wholly inadequate, non-backdated 3.5% pay increase.”It also said the deal on the table included c …

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