The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has announced that it will ballot members working for Royal Mail and Parcelforce for strikes from 20 September unless Royal Mail agrees a “legally-binding” deal that guarantees to protect workers’ pay, pensions, and conditions in the event of the privatisation of the service.
The ballot would be due back on 3 October, with strikes expected by 10 October if it returns a yes vote. It would be the first national ballot of CWU’s 125,000 Royal Mail members since 2009.
CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “We are dealing with a company that is preparing for privatisation with relish. While the union continues to fight privatisation we are also dealing with the potential realities for workers if there is a change of ownership.
“We are looking to reach a groundbreaking agreement on terms and conditions that sets unprecedented legally binding protection for workers in the event of a sale, and regardless of who owns the company. Postal workers know franchising, break up and sale of mail centres, distribution hubs and Parcelforce, along with the introduction of a new workforce on lower terms and conditions, are real threats in a race to the bottom with mail competitors for any new company.
“We want Royal Mail and the government to put protections in place that are meaningful and lasting.”
Meanwhile, the Bridgwater postal workers’ dispute has ended with a deal that commits managers to seek union agreement for all changes to working practises.
Bristol CWU Branch Secretary David Wilshire said: “Following lengthy and difficult negotiations an agreement has been accepted that places the union back at the centre of all decisions that are made in Royal Mail Bridgwater. Crucially it states that future changes will not be made until agreement is reached. In addition Royal Mail must realise that unless the management of the office seriously improves in the near future more disputes are inevitable.”
Dave Chapple, Bristol CWU Branch Chair and Bridgwater rep, said:
“110 postmen and women have sustained what is possibly, that epic Burslem struggle apart, the longest and most bitter official dispute in a Royal Mail Delivery Office for 20 years. What were we up against? First, up to 150 Royal Mail managers breaking our every picket line; second, our so-called free country's laws that makes solidarity strikes illegal. Had it not been for the amazing financial support from CWU branches and other trades unionists nationwide, we would have struggled.
“Thanks to all those who supported us, we remain defiant and definitely undefeated!”