Royal Mail Postal Workers Vote for Pre-Christmas Strikes

October 8, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Royal Mail's sorting office in Filton, Bristol, one of the biggest in the UK, during the busiest 24hrs of the year on December 15, 2008.  (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Royal Mail's sorting office in Filton, Bristol, one of the biggest in the UK, during the busiest 24hrs of the year on December 15, 2008. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
LONDON—UK pre-Christmas letter and parcel delivery may be in turmoil as 120,000 postal workers today voted three to one for strike action.

A ballot of Communication Workers Union (CWU) members who work for Royal Mail, the largest delivery service in the UK, has shown in favour of industrial action to rectify longstanding disputes with their employer.

Both the CWU and Royal Mail agree that modernisation and job cuts are essential for the company’s survival. Difficulties have arisen over sensitivities on how much consultation there should be about the changes and also how to replenish the company’s pension fund deficit of over £3 million.

Royal Mail is owned by the government and used to have a monopoly on delivering mail in the UK. The 350-year monopoly was ended on January 1, 2006 by the industry’s regulator Postcomm, after which any licensed operator could deliver to business and residential customers.

The increase in the use of electronic mail has also reduced the number of traditional deliveries, as has the memory of national 48-hour strikes by postal workers at Royal Mail in October 2007. At that time Royal Mail lost its second class delivery contract with Amazon, the internet retailer.

Today it was announced that Amazon has withdrawn its contract for parcels over 500 grams. Home Delivery Network (HDN), which also delivers for Tesco and Argos supermarkets, will take on the reputably £25 million work.