Royal Mail workers to strike after 18 months of pension negotiations

Written by Talya Misiri

The Communication Workers Union has served notice on Royal Mail Group for a 48 hour strike over its long-running pensions dispute.

A day after announcing the results of its industrial action ballot, the workers union announced yesterday, 5 October 2017, that its members will hold a 48 hour strike beginning at 12 noon on Thursday 19 October.

A total of 89.1 per cent of Royal Mail employees voted in favour of strike action. The national postal strike ballot saw the involvement of 73 per cent of CWU members working for the Royal Mail. With almost nine in every 10 members voting for strike action, the ballot was the first of its kind since the introduction of newly introduced Trade Union Act which set thresholds for turnout and results.

The strike will involve 111,000 postal workers and members of the CWU. Of the Royal Mail’s 110,000 members, close to three quarters voted in the ballot.

Earlier this year Royal Mail confirmed its plans for a new pension scheme that comprises of a defined benefit cash balance scheme and a defined contribution scheme that will be funded within its current £400m annual pension contribution.

The company is offering its employees a choice between a DB scheme and a DC scheme, which have been set up as new sections of the Royal Mail Pension Plan. Royal Mail is one of few companies replacing one DB scheme with another.

Nonetheless, the firm’s plan has been met with considerable rejection from worker’s unions CWU and Unite, leading to the decision to embark in industrial action.

CWU deputy general secretary postal Terry Pullinger said: “It is highly disappointing that after 18 months of negotiations including external mediation that we have reached this point. Royal Mail Group management have clearly moved away from the spirit and intent of our agreements and the empty promises of privatisation, and have suffered a huge vote of no confidence from their employees and CWU members as a consequence.

“People are extremely angry and will now express that by overwhelmingly supporting this strike action in order to shift Royal Mail Group from their entrenched position, protect themselves and this great public service.”

CWU general secretary Dave Ward added: “This is a watershed dispute that will determine not only our member’s pensions, jobs and pay but also the future of the service.

“Postal workers delivered a massive yes vote for strike action and we are determined to take whatever steps are necessary to deliver an agreement that will protect and enhance our member’s terms and conditions and improve the range of services on offer to customers.”

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