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Trade unionists vote overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action

Communication Workers Union members in the Royal Mail Group voted by 97.1 per cent to take strike action

A NATIONAL postal strike looms after the trade unionists voted in overwhelming numbers to take industrial action at Royal Mail.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) members in the Royal Mail Group voted by 97.1 per cent today to take strike action, with a turnout of 75.9 per cent.

 

 

The result is a serious blow to Royal Mail’s new boss Rico Back, whose year at the helm has already involved the company slipping off the FTSE 100 and a shareholder rebellion over his £6 million “welcome package.”

He also angered workers with apparent moves to undermine the so-called Four Pillars Agreement, which was struck between the CWU and Royal Mail management in 2018.

It saw the formation of four key “pillars of security” for Royal Mail workers on pensions, legal protections, job security and a push towards a 35-hour working week. 

Senior management figures who backed the agreement have been replaced. Union members have slammed a growing culture of workplace bullying.

Despite the resounding vote in favour of postal strikes, a mediation process between Royal Mail and the union will continue before any industrial action can commence.

The Star understands that this is only the second national ballot by any trade union to have beaten the 50 per cent turnout threshold imposed by the Tories’ 2016 Trade Union Act.

A CWU ballot in 2017 delivered an 89.1 per cent “yes” vote for a strike on a 73 per cent turnout.

If strike action is declared at the end of this latest mediation process, it will be the biggest industrial action in the postal industry since 2009.

That year saw CWU members walk out in protest at plans that they believed would damage job security and the quality of service.

WE RISE AGAIN

Today’s result comes off the back of an unprecedented campaign by the CWU to get the vote out, under the hashtag #WeRiseAgain.

It saw CWU members holding over 1,000 workplace meetings, and a huge effort by the union’s social media team to publicise efforts of people posting their Yes votes on Twitter and Facebook.

When asked by the Morning Star what he would do if he was in Mr Back’s shoes, Mr Ward told the Star: “He has to make his own mind up with how he deals with this dispute.

“If I was in his shoes, I’d walk out of the business today.

“I would recognise that his plan for the future is not a plan that postal workers are ever going to buy into.

“You cannot run a business of this nature, where you’ve got over 110,000 people out on the streets every single day of the week, right across the UK, if you’ve lost the confidence of the workforce.”

CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger added: “If he [Mr Back] decides to go, he’s never going to go hungry.

“But this day has nailed it – his legacy now is nothing to be proud of. He’ll have nothing but bad memories with us.

“We will fight in every distribution office, parcel office and processing centre every day if we have to.”

Speaking outside the press conference, Labour MP Hugh Gaffney –himself a former Parcelforce worker and active CWU member before he was elected as a Labour MP in 2017 – told the Star: “That result today is for every trade union. Get behind us – this is a battle for every worker.

“This is it, let’s fight. We’ve given you 97 per cent for yes. The workforce is saying enough is enough – time for change.”

A spokeswoman from Royal Mail said the company was “very disappointed” with the ballot.

“A ballot result for industrial action does not necessarily mean there will be industrial action. We are still in mediation with the CWU. 

“Under our Dispute Resolution Procedure, set out in the Agenda for Growth, we are committed to reaching a resolution. 

“No industrial action can be taken, and formal notification of industrial action cannot be given, before the conclusion of the Dispute Resolution Procedure.

She added: “We want to reach agreement.

“Industrial action – or the threat of it – is damaging for our business and undermines the trust of our customers.”

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