Postal workers in the United Kingdom could become the latest group to stage industrial action after members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) received ballot papers for a vote over the issue of whether or not to accept an offered pay rise.
A result is expected in three weeks’ time, and if Royal Mail staff do opt to take strike action, they would join a list that includes railway staff, barristers and airport workers who are already all involved in disputes over pay, with reports that teachers and fire officers could also take action, as the full impact of the cost of living crisis hits home.
The union says Royal Mail management wants to impose a pay rise of 2 percent which, because of inflation heading toward double figures, would effectively be what it called a “dramatic real-terms wage cut”.Instead, it wants a “straight, no-strings” rise for workers.
“Britain’s postal workers are being forced into accepting a massive pay cut by the same people they have generated incredible profits for,” said a union representative.
“We have no doubt that workers will defy this despicable treatment, stand up for themselves and vote to begin the biggest strike of this summer.”
CWU general secretary Dave Ward told Sky News that he expected his union, which has 115,000 members, to deliver a “very big yes vote” for industrial action, at a time when the company has reported record profits, and paid out 400 million pounds ($490 million) to Royal Mail shareholders.
“At the same time as the CEO and board have decided to impose a 2 percent pay increase on workers, they’re getting bonuses in the region of 140,000 pounds,” he said. “By any level of fairness, this is completely unacceptable.”
In a video posted on Twitter, union deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger called the offered pay rise “miles away from where inflation is, totally inadequate”, and accused management of behaving “insultingly and disrespectfully” to key workers.
“Their conduct, and particularly the imposition of such an aggressive pay offer, has eroded trust among loyal employees.”
In response, a spokesperson for the Royal Mail said there were “no grounds for industrial action “and that the biggest offer made for several years had been rejected by the union.
“We need to reach an agreement on the changes required to ensure Royal Mail can grow and remain competitive in a fast-moving industry, securing jobs for the future and retaining our place as the industry leader on pay and terms and conditions,” the spokesperson added.