Postal deliveries to 27 million homes across the UK could face severe disruption, after 4,900 Royal Mail managers voted overwhelmingly to strike in a dispute over pay.
The managers, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, voted by 78 per cent to take strike action and by 93 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.
This follows managers overwhelmingly rejecting the ‘paltry’ 1.3 per cent pay offer for the year starting September 2015 in a consultative ballot.
Today (Thursday 21 April) Unite called for urgent and constructive talks with Royal Mail’s management.
However, Unite has said that the pay dispute is part of a much wider set of problems engulfing the now privately-owned Royal Mail, which include the possible failure to meet its Universal Service Obligation (USO) to deliver letters six days-a-week to 27 million address; massive cost-cutting and redundancies; and the decision of a top fund manager to sell his stake in the company.
Unite officer for Royal Mail members Brian Scott said: “Our members have been disgusted by the abject failure of Royal Mail to take the issue of pay seriously - and this is reflected in the very strong vote for industrial action.
“We are already consulting our Royal Mail reps to decide what form the industrial action could take. We could be talking about an all-out strike which would cause severe disruption to deliveries to 27 million addresses, but, in the first instance, we are likely to call upon our members to work to rule.
“Any action would have a detrimental impact on business and commerce.
“Unite repeats its offer for constructive talks with management at any time, any place to seek a fair settlement to this long-running dispute.
“This dispute has to be taken in context. Royal Mail has made a commitment to City investors to cut costs by £500 million and it is Unite members that are bearing the brunt of that.
“Had it not been for Unite members going out on daily deliveries - a role they are not employed for - the Royal Mail will have failed its USO and been dragged in front of the regulatory body, Ofcom, and very probably fined millions of pounds.
“This was simply because Royal Mail refused to fill vacancies at the right time – a failure of its own doing.
“Unite members are also facing continuing threats of compulsory redundancy - there have already been more than 530 redundancies across the organisation this year.”
The sale of the Royal Mail, after five centuries of state ownership stretching back to 1516, has been dogged with controversy since 60 per cent of the Royal Mail was sold off by the then coalition’s business secretary Vince Cable in 2013, amid accusations that the shares were under-priced and the taxpayer short-changed.
Earlier this year, the highly-respected Neil Woodford, who heads up Woodford Investment Management, was reported as selling his entire Royal Mail stake because of regulatory concerns.
The dispute does not include Parcelforce which is covered by a separate agreement
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.