30/10/2009

Further Mail Strike Called, Despite Talks

Despite hopes that ongoing talks might be inching towards some progress, it has this afternoon emerged that yet more industrial action has been called at Royal Mail for next week.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has announced two more strike days for Friday, 6 and Monday, 9 November.

Unlike the current strikes, which have involved members in different roles striking on different days, the two new dates will be all-out strikes.

There has been swift condemnation on what has been described as the "CWU's destructive decision" to call the two one-day strikes.

That's even though talks are still going on at the TUC headquarters - and when everyone involved, including the union - has indicated that significant progress has been made.

The union announcement is said to be particularly disappointing given the TUC's statement earlier today and plans for management and union talks to continue into next week.

Mark Higson, Managing Director of Royal Mail Letters said on Friday afternoon: "The CWU claims to want a resolution to this dispute yet they know that more strike action will distract from the important discussions that need to take place and to which we at Royal Mail are committed.
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"Royal Mail will of course continue to honour Brendan Barber's request today not to discuss those talks," he said, but also complained about "the CWU's irresponsible behaviour", which he said "underlines just how muddled and confused the thinking of the union is – and how little it really cares about customers or the future of the UK postal service".

The management spokesman challenged the striking workers and continued: "Thanks to the efforts of all our people who continue to work, to the dedication of managers and to the help of up to 30,000 fully vetted temporary workers engaged by Royal Mail, we will be able to limit the effect of the current strikes and expect to get any delayed mail to our customers by early next week, well ahead of the CWU's next planned action."

Royal Mail said it is trying to modernise to compensate for letter volumes dropping by 10% every year as people switch to other forms of communication such as emails and texts.

It has shed 63,000 frontline postal staff in recent years, but it needs to cut more jobs as part of continuing modernisation plans.

The CWU agrees that job cuts are necessary, but disagrees over their extent, and over the future pay and working conditions of the workers that remain.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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