Royal Mail managers have voted to strike this summer over plans to reduce frontline delivery manager positions and redeploy staff into roles with allegedly inferior terms and conditions.
In England, Wales and Scotland, managers voted 86% in favour of a strike and 91% for industrial action short of a strike. In Northern Ireland 89% voted to strike and 88% for action short of a strike.
Around 2,400 managers across more than 1,000 delivery offices, members of the Unite union, participated in the ballot.
Unite claimed that the postal company had refused to row back on plans to slash manager numbers. It suggested the company had continued to “undermine” existing pay agreements and had failed to act on its long hours culture.
However, Royal Mail has challenged the union’s claim that the company wanted to cut the number of managers by a further 542, which it claimed was misleading. It also denied that 420 managers had already lost their jobs.
General secretary Sharon Graham said: “Make no mistake, Royal Mail is awash with cash – there is no need whatsoever to sack workers, drive down pay or pursue this ill-thought out redeployment programme.
“These plans are all about boardroom greed and profiteering and nothing whatsoever to do with securing this vital public service. Shareholders have been seizing the Royal Mail profits, while our members have been holding the service together. Enough is enough.
“Our Royal Mail members are guaranteed Unite’s 100 per cent support in any industrial action they take this summer to get the company off this ruinous path.”
A recent survey of Royal Mail members by Unite found staff regularly go without lunch breaks, work unpaid at weekends and forego annual leave in order to keep services running as expected.
Unite said it would announce the strike dates, to take place this summer, over the coming days.
It comes as more that 115,000 Royal Mail and Parcelforce workers, members of the Communication Workers Union, vote on whether to strike over pay.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by the announcement that Unite members have voted in favour of both industrial action and industrial action short of a strike, also known as work to rule.
“Throughout the ballot process, Unite head office has misled members about additional job losses. This is not true. Unite has ignored our request to correct these claims.
“There are no grounds for industrial action. The extended consultation on these changes concluded earlier this year, and the restructuring is complete. We committed to protecting pay for all managers who stay with Royal Mail, and the vast majority will see an increase in their earnings. We allowed managers to request voluntary redundancy with a package of up to two years’ salary, which was over-subscribed. We also made several concessions during the process, which Unite declined.
“The ballot covers around a third of our 6,000 managers and we have contingency plans in place to keep letters and parcels moving in the event of a strike.”
Royal Mail said it had already reduced managerial roles by 700 through a “heavily oversubscribed” voluntary redundancy and redeployment process, the latter of which has been running since May.