MccLi0001958 The Daily Telegraph Royal Mail postal workers demonstrate in Parliament Square over pay, jobs and conditions. Union members came to London for ‘the biggest strike demonstration this country has ever seen’ in Parliament Square. Announcing the days in November, The Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) said ‘postal workers’ livelihoods’ are at stake. The CWU says it still wants settlement talks with the company. Further strike dates this month are 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24 December 09/12/2022 – Julian Simmonds
Royal Mail bosses have accused striking workers of conspiring to bankrupt the company and put it back in the hands of the taxpayer, amid a deepening dispute over negotiations.
According to a letter leaked to the Telegraph, the directors criticized union leaders for saying they were “getting more comfortable with risking administration” during discussions over a new pay deal.
It collapsed in the early hours of Wednesday morning after talks with the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) threatened to delay deliveries to millions of homes.
Sources said Royal Mail management is increasingly concerned that the CWU is seeking to drive the UK delivery arm of the businesses into administration, in the hope that it will be nationalized as an interim measure, potentially necessary to make the company profitable. Radical overhaul will be avoided.
A letter sent by Royal Mail directors to CWU general secretary Dave Ward late last week – warned the union that nationalization was not guaranteed if strikes put the company’s finances under intolerable pressure.
Instead, a court would appoint a government administrator, who would then have to “take a number of actions that none of us want to see happen”.
It is likely that administration will be a short-term fix with the government’s insolvency service ramming through unilateral reforms to balance the books at Royal Mail.
The letter states: “It is important that everyone is clear that, if our finances are under strain, the law does not provide for re-nationalisation, but rather a system called Special Administration.
“An application for a Postal Administration Order can only be made by the Government or by Ofcom with the consent of the Government.
“This is a scenario the company is working tirelessly to avoid. We want to avoid further damage to the business and secure the future of Royal Mail and its employees.
A CWU spokesman said: “The people who have put Royal Mail in a difficult financial position are those at the helm of the business.
“Whether handing over almost £600m to shareholders, funneling millions in bonuses to senior executives, throwing money at strike-breaking agency workers or offering bribe bonuses to local managers, this company has been grossly mismanaged. In any other industry they all would have been rejected by now.”
The talks failed after the CWU rejected a new wage deal of 10pc.
Union barons were offered a lump sum for the workers of £500 or £1,500 depending on the timing of the wage increase.
In addition, the CWU’s 115,000 postal members were offered a profit-sharing arrangement as part of a settlement that would lead to sweeping workplace reforms.
Photo: Jeff Gilbert July 12, 2022. Mount Pleasant, London, UK Royal Mail Chief Executive Simon Thompson – Jeff Gilbert
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “After 11 months of negotiations, including mediation by Sir Brendan Barber and Ekas, we are deeply concerned that our talks with the CWU have concluded without agreement.
“We remain committed to reaching a settlement with the CWU. We have been clear throughout the dispute that not changing our network and working practices is not an option for a business losing more than £1 million a day. In the best interest of our customers and the job security of our postmen and women, the change cannot be delayed further.
The breakdown of talks has pushed Royal Mail and union counterparts into uncharted territory in an existential battle over the future of the postal monopoly.
It is expected that Royal Mail, under the leadership of chairman Keith Williams and chief executive Simon Thompson, will now begin implementing reforms such as forcing staff to complete rounds more quickly and automating the sorting process.
The only change that Royal Mail cannot make without the consent of the union is to force staff to start work later so that deliveries can be made over a longer period of the day.
An increase in Sunday services would likely use a greater number of agency staff.
A CWU spokesman said: “Talks between the CWU and the Royal Mail Group … concluded without agreement.
“Progress has been made in several areas, and the union made clear last night that we look forward to continuing negotiations today and tomorrow to finalize an agreement. The company reiterated this offer.
“We will consult with the Union Postal Executive later today and consider all available options regarding our next steps.
“The company has published selected aspects of its latest offer directly to employees, claiming that the terms and conditions for new entrants are the main stumbling point. This is not true.”