Socialist Worker

Royal Mail strikes could be in pipeline after union leader calls for fresh ballot

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2688

CWU union members at a gate meeting in north London during the last strike ballot

CWU union members at a gate meeting in north London during the last strike ballot (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The fight for the future of Royal Mail is heating up again after a union leader announced plans for another national strike ballot.

CWU union members could hold a second ballot for national strikes after deputy general secretary (postal) Terry Pullinger said talks with bosses had broken down.

Union leaders had been in talks with top bosses since Royal Mail management used a high court ruling in November last year to block national strikes.

But in a message to union members on Friday, Pullinger said, “We will now re-ballot our members—this dispute is far from resolved.”

Workers in Royal Mail are fighting to save their jobs and working conditions from a major attack spearheaded by chief executive Rico Back.

Back wants to split Royal Mail up into a new parcels company run for profit, and a letters delivery service that will be run down.

That means taking vital work away from Royal Mail—causing at least 20,000 job losses.

And the CWU fears Back’s ambition to scrap Royal Mail’s obligation to deliver letters six days a week will lead to many more.

CWU members voted by 97 percent on a 76 percent turnout last year to strike against the attack. But bosses got the high court to rule that the ballot was unlawful because some workers opened their voting papers at work, before they had been delivered.

Defy 

Rather than defy the courts, or re-ballot straight away, union leaders returned to talks with top management.

Yet now those talks have broken down as bosses say they want to push ahead with changes that could worsen working conditions and in some places lead to job losses.

Ricky McAulay, one of Royal Mail’s top managers, said this is because of “the tough financial situation we’re in”.

Bosses have also threatened to push ahead with moves to transfer Parcelforce workers over to a new private company if the union ballots for strikes.

Pullinger said bosses had used the talks to try and push through their changes. “Everything they said going into these talks has proven to be nonsense,” he said.

The CWU’s postal executive committee is now set to meet on Tuesday to decide on a timetable for action.

The union should ballot and get ready for strikes as soon as possible. And workers could strike unofficially if bosses try to force through their attacks. 


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