Royal Mail could soon be hit by UK-wide strikes over plans to remove 542 frontline delivery managers alongside a redeployment programme to bring in worsening terms and conditions, as Unite the union announced today (Tuesday 31 May) a ballot for strike action in defence of these jobs.

Unite said that  about 2,400 managers across over 1,000 workplaces would be balloted for strike action and industrial action short of a strike between 6 June and 29 June – and the union warned that letter and parcel delivery chaos was on the cards.

The ballot comes after Unite members rejected the latest proposals from management. Royal Mail bosses have already cut 450 jobs, but have refused to row back from their demand for 542 further jobs to go, as well as undermining agreed existing pay arrangements.

Coming out of the pandemic where Unite’s members worked tirelessly to ensure that the mail got delivered and collected, Royal Mail senior management has rewarded them by increasing the workload, relocating them unreasonably and destroying their career progression.   

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members are the backbone of the Royal Mail, holding the service together while the shareholders seize the profits.

“Royal Mail is awash with cash. There is no need whatsoever for these cuts, or this ill-thought out redeployment programme. Unite will oppose these plans every step of the way. 

“Our Royal Mail members are guaranteed Unite’s 100 per cent support in any industrial action they take to get the company off this ruinous path.”

Unite claims that the job cuts are driven by shareholder greed, despite the service returning a record £416 million in profits only months ago – up by 20.9 per cent. The union also fears that the business is threatening the universal service obligation whereby it must deliver to every household in the UK six days per week.

The substantial profits made by the business could enable real investment in improvements to the quality of service which is already substantially down on Ofcom’s regulatory target. Instead the quality of service to the public and business customers remains on a downward trajectory.

A survey of Unite members has revealed that the current service is built on unpaid work by the postal managers and can ill-afford to lose more managers from the workforce. Members regularly go without lunch breaks, work unpaid at weekends and even forego annual leave to provide the public with a service. Unite firmly believes these changes do nothing to assist these issues.

Unite national officer with responsibility for Royal Mail, Mike Eatwell added: “Our members have had enough - the Royal Mail senior management has gone back on its word too many times. If the company cannot be relied upon to treat this workforce with respect then it’s time to take action to underline its importance to the business.

“Now is the time for the management to come back to the negotiating table to hammer out an agreement that benefits both the customers that use this much valued service and those managers that are holding it together on a daily basis.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

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Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.