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CWU Conference 2024 Review free Royal Mail redeliveries as USO no longer viable, CWU delegates hear

FREE Royal Mail redeliveries should be reviewed after the company’s actions have left its six-day delivery service financially unviable, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) conference heard today.

Deputy general secretary Martin Walsh told delegates in Bournemouth that the union has submitted its rejection of a three- or four-day letter delivery service to regulator Ofcom, which is looking at watering down the firm’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) to deliver letters to all addresses in Britain six days a week.

“We are in talks with the company around trying to secure a statement of principles around their optimised model,” Mr Walsh said.

“The reality is the USO as a six-day option is no longer financially viable.

“The challenges we face are so significant — probably the most challenging time in this union's history, whether it’s the USO change, sale or possible takeover.”

He referred to a motion due to be debated tomorrow which calls on the union’s postal executive to review the deployment of “click & drop, free redelivery and the implicit cost of double delivery attempts without customer request.”

It also calls for a “full cost-benefit analysis” of all products for supporting the USO going forward.

In his speech, Mr Walsh also warned that union membership in the Royal Mail had fallen to 83 per cent, with 21,000 workers not in the CWU.

“We have got to reconnect with the members, there’s too many workplaces where the atmosphere is toxic, the union is under pressure and some of our reps are not going in,” he said.

Delegates passed a motion which said CWU’s pay and benefits strategy should ensure any decision on the future of the USO comes with improvements in pay, terms and conditions and further reductions in the working week.

Mr Walsh warned that the union may be negotiating terms with a different company next year as “no Labour or Tory government are going to renationalise.”

Last week it emerged that Royal Mail’s parent company, International Distributions Services (IDS), had received a preliminary offer from Daniel Kretinsky, a Czech energy tycoon whose company, EP Group, is its largest shareholder.

Mr Kretinsky has built up a 27.5 per cent stake in Royal Mail through his investment vehicle, Vesa.

The offer has been rejected, but Mr Walsh said: “We expect Vesa to bid again. Clearly we are opposed to the changeover and takeover.”

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