Royal Mail Workers Vote to Strike Over Pay

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.
July 20, 2022 Updated: July 20, 2022

Royal Mail workers have become the latest group to vote in favour of strikes in a dispute over pay.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said on Tuesday that in a ballot of its 115,000 members, 97.6 percent voted in favour of industrial action from a turnout of 77 percent.

The union said Royal Mail offered a 2 percent increase, but the vote showed that postal workers “are demanding the proper pay rise they deserve.”

“While bosses rake in £758 million in profit and shareholders take £400 million, workers are expected to take a serious real-terms pay cut,” CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said while announcing the result.

Ward said postal workers “won’t accept their living standards being hammered by bosses who are typical of business leaders today—overpaid, underqualified, out of their depth.”

Ward said there will now be a “small window” of opportunity for talks to avoid walkouts before strike dates are set.

He also said the Royal Mail’s modernisation plan “seems to be about workers having to work harder and faster for less pay.”

The Royal Mail said it had offered a 3.5 percent conditional pay rise on top of a 2 percent non-conditional increase.

A spokesperson said the company is “disappointed” that CWU members voted to strike.

“We offered a deal worth up to 5.5 percent for CWU grade colleagues, the biggest increase we have offered for many years, which the CWU rejected,” the spokesperson said.

“We can only fund this offer by making the changes that will pay for it and ensure Royal Mail can grow and remain competitive in a fast-moving industry.”

The spokesperson accused the union of not engaging in “any meaningful discussion on the changes,” and said there are contingency plans to minimise customer disruption during strikes.

The vote for industrial action comes as the chair of the postal service company said it’s currently losing £1 million a day.

In a trading update for April to June, Royal Mail Chairman Keith Williams said the company’s performance has been “disappointing.”

“The pandemic boom in parcel volumes bolstered by the delivery of test kits and parcels is over. Royal Mail is currently losing one million pounds per day and the efficiency improvements which are needed for long term success have stalled,” Williams said in a statement.

The UK’s rate of inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), hit a 40-year record of 9.1 percent in May and is expected to reach as high as 11 percent later this year.

According to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday, regular pay in real terms plunged by 2.8 percent, representing the biggest fall in pay since the data started being recorded in March 2001.

The hiking inflation came with soaring energy prices and a public sector pay freeze during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fire Brigades Union, which rejected a 2 percent pay increase, threatened industrial action on Wednesday.

The Police Federation also voiced its discontent on Tuesday after the government announced a 5 percent pay rise.

Public and private sector workers including Rail workers, Barristers, Court security staff, Scottish police officers, British Airway workers, and BT workers are also among those who staged or voted to stage strikes in the last two months.

Asked on Sunday if they consider a 5 percent pay rise fair for public sector workers, candidates hoping to become the next Prime Minister in September all agreed the government needs to stick to its guns and listen to independent pay review bodies.

Kemi Badenoch, who was eliminated from the race on Tuesday, said she doesn’t believe the current economy is not able to fund more pay rises.

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.