November 26, 2022
Postal workers in the UK launch Black Friday strike as industrial action sweeps the country

LONDON – Strikers from the CWU Commerce Union attend the picket line at Peckham Royal Mail centre on November 24, 2022 in London, England. Strikes deliberate for the Black Friday weekend and the run-up to Christmas will go forward after talks between Royal Mail and the Communication Employees Union ended with out settlement.

Man Smallman/Getty Photographs

LONDON — 1000’s of postal staff within the U.Ok. are on a two-day strike, disrupting Black Friday after talks between Royal Mail and the Communication Employees Union fell by way of.

Leaders of the commerce union, which represents round 115,000 putting postal staff, re-entered negotiations with Royal Mail executives early final month, with talks now having spanned seven months.

Nonetheless, Royal Mail Group — just lately renamed Worldwide Distributions Companies on the London Inventory Change — mentioned in an announcement Wednesday that it had tabled its “finest and closing provide” and accused the union of “holding Christmas to ransom.”

The CWU has introduced 10 additional days of strike motion up till Christmas Eve, of which 4 have been formally notified, with the final falling on Dec. 1.

In October, Royal Mail revealed plans to chop as much as 10,000 jobs by subsequent summer time and posted a half-year adjusted working lack of £219 million ($265.3 million), and CEO Simon Thompson mentioned the strikes had already added £100 million to the corporate’s losses up to now this yr. IDS shares have fallen greater than 58% for the reason that begin of the yr.

“In a materially loss-making firm, with each further day of strike motion we face the troublesome selection of whether or not we spend our cash on pay and defending jobs, or on the price of strikes,” Thompson mentioned Wednesday.

“The CWU’s deliberate strike motion is holding Christmas to ransom for our clients, companies and households throughout the nation, and is placing their very own members’ jobs in danger.”

The union on Wednesday mentioned it met with Royal Mail executives, however claimed Thompson didn’t attend. In an announcement, the CWU warned of “the top of Royal Mail as we all know it.”

Royal Mail claims its newest provide contains an enhanced pay deal of as much as 9% over 18 months, a brand new revenue share program for workers, a block on obligatory redundancies till the top of March 2023 and an enchancment to voluntary redundancy packages.

Nonetheless, the union accused the corporate’s executives of “turning Royal Mail Group right into a gig economy-style parcel courier, reliant on informal labour,” imposing obligatory redundancies on postal staff whereas retaining company workers on decrease pay, and providing a “wholly insufficient, non-backdated 3.5% pay enhance.”

It additionally mentioned the deal on the desk included cuts to sick pay, removing of a Sunday premium fee, later begin and ending instances and the “introduction of expertise that may monitor postal staff each minute of the day.”

BIRMINGHAM, U.Ok. – November 24, 2022: Postal staff on the picket line on the Central Supply Workplace and Mail Centre in Birmingham. Members of the Communication Employees Union (CWU) are holding a 48-hour strike in a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and circumstances.

Jacob King/PA Photographs by way of Getty Photographs

“We won’t settle for that 115,000 Royal Mail staff — the individuals who stored us related in the course of the pandemic, and made tens of millions in revenue for bosses and shareholders — take such a devastating blow to their livelihoods,” mentioned CWU Common Secretary Dave Ward.

“These proposals spell the top of Royal Mail as we all know it, and its degradation from a nationwide establishment into an unreliable, Uber-style gig economic system firm.”

Postal staff in August voted overwhelmingly in favor of strike motion in protest at pay and circumstances, after Royal Mail initially imposed a 2% pay enhance on staff whereas U.Ok. inflation was heading towards double digits. U.Ok. inflation hit 11.1% in October.

The union is looking for an improved 18-month pay deal, a assure of no obligatory redundancies and an “various enterprise technique that will see Royal Mail Group use its aggressive benefit to develop as an organization, as a substitute of turning into a gig economic system parcel employer.”

Strikes throughout sectors

Employees throughout the private and non-private sectors are putting within the U.Ok. over pay, working circumstances and pensions, with inflation operating at its highest degree for over 40 years and the unbiased Workplace for Funds Duty (OBR) final week projecting the steepest fall in dwelling requirements since data started.

The Workplace for Nationwide Statistics (ONS) estimated that a mean of 19,500 working days monthly had been misplaced to industrial motion in 2019, however this has risen for the reason that Covid-19 pandemic, and hit 87,600 in July 2022.

Rail strikes have introduced the nation’s prepare providers to a digital standstill on a number of days all year long, and the RMT union, whose members work for Community Rail and 14 different prepare operators, just lately voted in favor of 4 extra 48-hour rail strikes within the run-up to Christmas.

The Royal Faculty of Nursing just lately introduced that its members will stage walkouts by the top of the yr for the primary time in its 106-year historical past.

The British Medical Affiliation will maintain a poll in January for junior docs in England over a pay deal that will provide them a 2% enhance this yr, whereas 18,000 ambulance staff represented by the sizeable GMB and Unite unions are presently voting on strike motion.

Scottish lecturers held industrial motion on Thursday which closed the overwhelming majority of faculties in Scotland, additionally demanding a ten% pay rise, and several other U.Ok.-wide lecturers’ unions representing a complete of greater than 400,000 lecturers and assist workers are holding ballots which shut in January.

Telecoms staff staged strike motion for the primary time in additional than 30 years in July in protest over pay, together with further dates in August and October, whereas airline baggage handlers walked out for 3 days on Nov. 18.

Round 100,000 civil servants, together with Border Power officers, additionally just lately voted to strike over the Christmas interval, demanding a ten% pay enhance.

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