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Business / Dates set for postal strike

Local union rep: ‘We don’t want to withdraw our labour, but we have to defend ourselves’

Some of the CWU members working in the postal service in Shetland. Photo: CWU

“DATES have been set and we’re ready to walk.”

That is the message from the local Communication Workers Union (CWU) branch secretary after four days were earmarked for potential Royal Mail strikes across the UK in a dispute over pay.

These dates are 26 and 31 August, as well as  8 and 9 September.

Members of the CWU across the UK who collect, sort and deliver parcels and mail have already voted to go on strike in a dispute over a proposed two per cent pay increase.

But the Royal Mail said in an update to the stock exchange on Wednesday that the offer put to members potentially amounted to a rise of up to 5.5 per cent, subject to agreement on a series of changes.

The company said it was sorry for the disruption the strike may cause for the public, adding: “We want to reassure you will do everything we can to minimise disruption and get our services back to normal as quickly as possible.”

It added that it was “ready to talk” to try to avert strike action, “but it must be about both change and pay”.

CWU Grampian and Shetland branch secretary George Ross said he believed more than 85 per cent of local members were “up for the fight”.

But he said workers want a deal rather than go on strike. “We don’t want to withdraw our labour and lose money, but we have to and we will defend ourselves,” Ross said.

“The message is clear for RMG [Royal Mail Group] to see – 85,184 members backed their union, voted for industrial action with a huge 77 per cent turnout.

“The CWU are more than prepared to negotiate a deal, we want to be in a room where people speak to us, not at us. It’s really up to the business now.

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“We know where we are and at this moment in time, dates have been set and we’re ready to walk.”

Ross reiterated his view that a proposed base two per cent pay rise is “nowhere near” what is needed due to inflation and interest rate increases.

He said when Royal Mail workers in the UK have taken to using food banks, even on a full-time contract, “a massively underwhelming 25p an hour imposition doesn’t cut it”.

“CWU HQ saw what was to come in terms of the cost of living crisis and attempted to get ahead of the game by wanting to discuss and agree a way forward on pay in February,” the local rep added.

“They were basically ignored by RMG until the threat of industrial action was upon them.”

The Royal Mail said on strike days it will deliver as many special delivery and Tracked24 parcels as possible.

It will also prioritise the delivery of Covid tests and medical prescriptions where possible.

However, it will not be delivering letters, with the exception of special delivery.

Delivery offices and customer service points will be closed on the strike days. 

Post Offices will be open as usual but any items sent on the strike days will likely be delayed as collections by Royal Mail will limited.

People are advised to post items in advance of strike dates where possible.

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