Postal workers could strike in pension dispute

Petition signing at Lynn Road Post Office.
Petition signing at Lynn Road Post Office.

Postal workers will vote on possible strike action next week in a running dispute with bosses over pay, working hours and pensions.

The Communications Union (CWU)is in talks with Royal Mail to secure better conditions for its members.

Royal Mail wants to scrap its current pension plan and replace it with another type of benefit scheme.

“It would be by far the best pension in the delivery industry,” it said. “It benchmarks very well compared to other large companies.”

But union bosses argue that workers would be worse off if the plans are finalised, and has pledged to consult its members over possible industrial action.

“Royal Mail won’t pay so much into the pension,” said a spokesman from the Anglian and Eastern region branch of CWU, who also raised issues over pay.

Postal staff are due a pay rise in April, but claim the offer of a £375 increase is inadequate and does not reflect inflation.

“We want them to look at the rate of inflation and give workers a decent pay rise,” he said.

But Royal Mail claims that, under the new proposals, wages would still be higher than other businesses.

“Royal Mail would continue to provide the best pay and terms of conditions in the industry,” read the statement.

“Many competitors pay around the National Living Wage. Royal Mail pays 45 to 50 per cent more than this.”

CWU is also fighting plans to alter the delivery structure, which would change working hours from 9am to 5pm, instead of 7am to 3pm.

“We don’t believe it has to be changed so drastically,” said the CWU spokesman.

He said it would have a knock-on effect as customers would receive their post later in the day.

“Customers won’t be very happy,” he said. “I wouldn’t be happy.”

On top of this, the union is asking for a reduction in working hours from 39 hours a week to 35 hours.

“The reason we want that is because the industry has become more mechanised,” explained the CWU spokesman.

“We have less work to do because a lot of it is done on machines.”

Royal Mail said it was “very disappointed” that the union was prepared to strike.

“We believe there are no grounds for industrial action,” said a spokesman, who added that they remained committed to reaching an agreement with the union.

The CWU spokesman added: “We’re hoping the negotiations can be agreed because the last thing we want is for us to have to strike.

“We’re protecting the postal service; it’s about securing people’s futures. As a union, we want a resolution.”

A ballot on strike action will take place on Tuesday.