Royal Mail workers have voted by a landslide in favour of taking industrial action. Ninety-seven percent of union members voted for action on a turnout of 76 percent.
Since the privatisation of Royal Mail in 2015, postal workers have been subjected to increasing attacks on their conditions, imposed by bullying management. By 2017, things had become so bad that workers voted overwhelmingly for strike action to halt this downward slide.
But rather than act on this mandate, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) was persuaded to call off the action, instead signing up to the so-called ‘Four Pillars’ agreement. This agreement made hopeful noises about pay rises, pensions and moves to reduce the working week from 39 hours to 35. Naturally, in the small print, all these promised improvements were made conditional on improvements in productivity (management speak for speed-up).
Once the immediate threat of strike action was removed, management proceeded to renege on their side of the agreement. The CEO who signed the deal, Moya Greene, was replaced by Rico Back, who picked up a £6m ‘golden hello’ for his trouble. Since Black’s tenure began, conditions have further deteriorated, with management bullying sparking numerous walk-outs.
In addition, Royal Mail is planning to hive off its Parcelforce operation in order to bring its employees’ conditions down to the level suffered at the hands of other parcel delivery cowboys like Hermes and DPD. Even under current arrangements, Parcelforce drivers’ conditions are appalling, with some charged £250 a day if they go off sick.
So, once again, CWU members have handed their leadership a cast-iron strike mandate. It remains to be seen what the CWU plans to do with it this time.