CWU members in Royal Mail Group have delivered the biggest ever return in a major national strike ballot.
Summary of the dispute:
After returning very large majorities for action in national ballots, CWU members in Royal Mail took 18 days of strike action during the second half of 2022 over pay and unagreed changes to terms and conditions.
The first strike was on 26th August and the last strike of the year was on 24th December. Each action was solidly supported by some 115,000 postal workers in delivery, processing, distribution and all other functions, as well as members working in Parcelforce.
During this time, disciplinary actions against reps and activists by the company, its withdrawal from long agreed IR procedures and other national agreements, along with threats of compulsory redundancies only increased the anger felt by members and, far from breaking the strike, actually boosted the determination of postal workers to fight harder for a fair deal.
In early January, however, the company made what the union described as “significant moves” towards a potential settlement of the dispute, including a pledge not to carry out any compulsory redundancies, a return to the pre-existing industrial relations framework, a full review of all disciplinary cases arising from the dispute and a commitment to meaningful negotiations during January with the aim of resolving the issues in dispute.
On this basis, the union decided not to call further strike actions during January, and to focus on engagement with these negotiations in good faith.
However, in the event of the negotiations being unsuccessful, and given that the initial strike ballot mandates from 2022 were due to expire in the latter part of February, the union also called a second national industrial action ballot, the result of which will be announced on 16th February.
Given the strategic importance of Royal Mail to the UK economy and society, the union also spent part of January making sure that the broader issues around the postal service and its future are fully highlighted in Parliament. Two Westminster Hall Debates, gave MPs the opportunity to debate and discuss the current state of UK postal services and the future of the USO, while the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Select Committee, heard from our general secretary Dave Ward and Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson on the dispute.
(Subsequently, Select Committee Chair Darren Jones summonsed Mr Thompson to appear before the Committee again, on 22nd February.)
Also in January, our CWU leadership met with major Royal Mail shareholders to explain the union’s concerns about the company, set out our vision for a positive future and answer shareholders’ questions.