|The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has responded strongly to Royal Mail’s offer to enter into discussions without preconditions if the union provides a binding commitment to remove the threat of strike action over the Christmas period.
The postal service wrote to the CWU on Monday (28 October) to say that it would also extend the life of the ballot result by the same amount of time as the pause on industrial action.
The vast majority (97.1%) of around 110,000 voters backed strike action from a 76% turnout of the CWU’s members earlier this month.
The CWU said Royal Mail’s 2018 agreement to increase pay, reform pensions and reduce weekly working hours from 39 to 35 by 2022, subject to productivity improvements, was not being honoured by the company’s new leadership.
In a video posted by Royal Mail on its website alongside a press release on Tuesday, head of campaigns Mark Street said: “We’re currently in the latter stages of our external mediation process with the CWU, which is focused on the spirit and intent of the 2018 agreement.
“Yesterday we wrote to the CWU about continuing our discussions beyond the official mediation period. We’ve asked the CWU to commit to suspending any industrial action for the rest of 2019 so that these discussions can take place in a positive environment.”
He added that while Royal Mail respects CWU members’ right to ballot for industrial action and wants to demonstrate that it is "committed to open and genuine discussions", just the threat of industrial action itself "is damaging to our business, our people and our customers" and that it wants to reach a resolution to move forward and “continue to provide the best possible service for our customers during this vital time of year".
In response, the CWU tweeted Tuesday afternoon: “Royal Mail Group’s position in this dispute is born out of dogma and raised on deceit.
“Today’s press release is a total sham designed to undermine the CWU and any prospect of an agreement.
“The ‘significant step’ they refer to was actually proposed by the CWU on 8 October 2019. That offer was to move immediately from mediation to formal negotiations with the proposal that the CWU would not give any notice to take industrial action for effectively six weeks, at which point we would reflect on the genuine nature of the negotiations.
“RMG rejected that offer in preference to wait for the external mediator’s report. They refused to meet all last week and only offered a four-hour slot this week.
“Their letter referred to in their press release was emailed late yesterday after 17.00hrs and was the subject of a press release before we met today. Ask yourself, is this the actions of people trying to resolve this dispute?
“Equally today they have rejected significant recommendations from the external mediator’s report making it impossible for talks to resolve all issues.”