The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is recommending a deal to its members in Royal Mail that secures a 9% pay increase over three years and legal protection against outsourcing, casualisation, and zero-hours contracts, but also radically restricts the union’s ability to strike.
The deal creates new structures of governance and mediation that the CWU will be legally committed to exhaust before its members can strike at a local level. The agreement also makes clear that any national strike would negate the legal protections offered: “The Employer shall be entitled to notify the CWU at any time that any of the Protections will no longer continue, if […] there is national-scale industrial action (in the form of a strike or action short of a strike) which has been authorised at national level by the CWU [which] will have, or is reasonably likely to have, a [...] disruptive effect.”
The protections in the deal would be material improvements for Royal Mail workers.
But these terms and conditions will come under inevitable scrutiny, and, ultimately, attack, and the restrictions on the ability to strike mean workers will be forced to defend them with both hands tied behind their backs.