Postal workers’ leaders have decided to hold a national strike ballot if no agreement is made over jobs, pensions and other issues linked to the Government’s controversial plans to privatise the Royal Mail.
Around 500 Communication Workers Union (CWU) representatives voted unanimously to press ahead with a strike ballot of 115,000 Royal Mail workers, no later than next month, if “satisfactory agreements” are not reached.
It will be the first ballot for national industrial action in Royal Mail since September 2009 and represents a major challenge to the Government’s plans. The union said it wanted to secure job protections in Royal Mail as well as maintain pay, pensions and conditions and stop any worsening of postal services.
Deputy general secretary Dave Ward said he thought it was “inevitable” that a ballot would be held. Mr Ward revealed plans for a national day of action in support of postal services and against privatisation which could include a 24-hour strike.
He warned that selling Royal Mail would “damage” services and hit jobs, pay and conditions. He accused the Government of “completely misleading” the public over privatisation, saying it was clear postal workers and the general public were against the plans.
“When they try to suggest that the postal industry has problems dealing with new technology and the digital age, they are talking nonsense,” he told a special CWU conference in London. “Workers have embraced modernisation, and helped increase profits by 60%, so why should we just hand it over to someone only interested in making money?”
Mr Ward said: “The current situation cannot go on. Postal workers are being squeezed in their workplaces, facing an uncertain future and changes to their pensions. There hasn’t yet been a pay rise for staff this year despite healthy company profits of £403 million. But most importantly, we want protections for job security and terms and conditions and these are sadly lacking.
“CWU is committed to holding serious negotiations with Royal Mail to achieve settlement on these issues, but efforts to date do not bode well.”
A Department for Business spokesman said: “It’s very disappointing that the CWU has voted to hold a national ballot for industrial action. We encourage the union to continue talking to Royal Mail management in order to achieve settlement on the issues they are concerned about.
“The Government is committed to selling Royal Mail shares via an IPO in this financial year, as agreed by Parliament two years ago.”