Postal workers have launched a 24-hour strike in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions, with a series of walkouts planned for the coming weeks.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said its 115,000 members across the UK were taking action on Thursday, describing it as the largest strike in a year. The move comes amid industrial unrest across several industries, including rail.
Picket lines have been mounted outside Royal Mail offices on the sixth day of action in recent months.
The union accuses the company of planning structural changes, which would in effect transform employees in secure, well-paid jobs into a “casualised, financially precarious workforce overnight”.
The union has announced 19 days of strike action in the buildup to the busy Christmas period. They will cover peak periods such as Black Friday on 25 November and Cyber Monday on 28 November.
The general secretary, Dave Ward, said: “Postal workers face the biggest ever assault on their jobs, terms and conditions in the history of Royal Mail.
“The public and businesses also face the end of daily deliveries and destruction of the special relationship that postal workers and the public have in every community in the UK.
“It is insulting the intelligence of every postal worker for the Royal Mail chief executive, Simon Thompson, to claim that their change agenda is ‘modernisation’.
“It is nothing more than an asset-stripping business plan that will see the breakup of the company and the end of Royal Mail as a major contributor to the UK economy.
“Royal Mail Group claims to be losing £1m a day. The CWU believe these figures need to be scrutinised.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Three weeks ago, Royal Mail invited the CWU to enter talks through Acas to find a resolution to our change and pay dispute. We have not reached an agreement with the CWU on this request.
“Royal Mail is losing £1m a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands.
“The CWU leadership’s choice of damaging strike action over resolution is weakening the financial position of the company and threatening the job security of our postmen and women.
“We call on the CWU leaders to cancel their planned strike action and accept our invitation to enter talks through Acas without further delay.
“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”
Source: The Guardian