Royal Mail workers will be balloted for industrial action in September in support of the Communication Workers’ Union’s ‘Four Pillars’ campaign during talks with the company. Workers are fighting for a pay-rise, including opposing a two-tier workforce, defence of pensions, changes to working practices and the re-commitment of the company to their 2013 agreement to maintain the business.
Royal Mail was privatised in 2013. The initial public offering went for a paltry £1.98 billion for the country’s postal services. This was a bung to the financial speculators by Vince Cable, the then Business Secretary in the Tory-Lib Dem government. On the first day of trading, share prices jumped 38%, making a tidy sum for the financial speculators. Since then, Royal Mail has sought to undermine the agreement reached with the workers’ union.
The CWU has been campaigning on a number of fronts. The union has rejected any race to the bottom in the postal industry, where senior Royal Mail management want to drive staff’s pay rates down to those of poverty-paying delivery services such as Hermes.
Workers are rejecting any lowering of terms and conditions for new entrants, any further destruction of the pension scheme, performance-related pay increases, as well as the removal of workplace reps from negotiating with management locally. Workers have called for a real strategy to grow the company in the benefit of service users and for decent pay with the prospect of a real pension.
A strong ‘Yes’ vote for industrial action can send a message not just to Royal Mail management but also to all companies who are using the race to the bottom to renege on agreements and drive down workers’ pay and conditions. A ballot result is expected on 3rd October.
By Paddy Meehan