Further strikes over pay in 2022 are looking more likely, as a union representing Royal Mail staff presses for an “inflation-based” and “no-strings” pay award and a doctors’ union demands a 30% increase.
More that 115,000 Royal Mail and Parcelforce workers are voting this week on whether to strike over pay, which their union – the Communication Workers Union – says could amount to the biggest strike ever taken by its members.
CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said the union wanted to see an “inflation-based, no-strings pay award” for Royal Mail staff, and described the 2% pay increase the company has offered as “totally inadequate” considering the level of inflation.
The consumer prices index hit 9.1% in the 12 months to May 2022. The retail prices index, which is no longer an official statistic but is a measure which many trade unions use in pay negotiations, rose to 11.7%.
According to XpertHR, UK pay deals remained at 4% on average in the three months to May 2022, their highest level since 1992.
A CWU spokesperson said: “Britain’s postal workers are being forced into accepting a massive pay cut by the same people they have generated incredible profits for.
“Our members are going to food banks while bosses reward themselves with advance bonuses. It is an unjust, unsustainable way to treat people. We have no doubt that workers will defy this despicable treatment, stand up for themselves and vote to begin the biggest strike of this summer.”
A Royal Mail Group spokesperson said: “We believe there are no grounds for industrial action. We offered a deal worth up to 5.5% for CWU grade colleagues, the biggest increase we have offered for many years, which was rejected by the CWU.
“We need to reach an agreement on the changes required to ensure Royal Mail can grow and remain competitive in a fast-moving industry, securing jobs for the future and retaining our place as the industry leader on pay and terms and conditions.”
Meanwhile, CWU members across 114 Crown Post Offices, which are separated from Royal Mail, will go on strike on 11 July over pay. Staff voted overwhelmingly to take strike action by 97.3%.
A pay offer of 3% with effect from 1 April 2022 and a £500 lump sum has been rejected as being “woefully inadequate”.
CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said: “No worker wants to be in this situation, but Post Office bosses can’t be surprised that callous decisions are challenged by our members.
“There is more than enough money for a reasonable pay rise – implementing this pay cut is a management choice, not a necessity.
“To Post Office bosses, our message is: get real on pay, get round the bargaining table for meaningful negotiations and settle this dispute, or further action will be taken.”
A Post Office spokesperson said: “We want to assure our customers that the vast majority of our 11,500 branches are unaffected by the CWU decision to strike on Monday 11 July and will be open throughout the day. There are 114 branches, typically in city centres, that are directly managed by Post Office and on previous strike days over a third have opened as usual. We’re disappointed that the CWU have made the decision to strike but remain hopeful that we can reach a pay agreement soon.”
Elsewhere, doctors attending the British Medical Association’s annual conference have voted to press the government for a 30% pay increase over five years to make up for real-terms cuts to their salaries over the past 14 years.
The motion put forward by the union noted that “with horror that all doctors’ pay has fallen against RPI since 2008 to the tune of up to 30%”.
Dr Emma Runswick, a member of the BMA’s ruling council, said: “We should not wait for things to get worse. All of us deserve comfort and pleasure in our lives. Pay restoration is the right, just and moral thing to do. But it is a significant demand and it won’t be easy to win. Every part of the BMA needs to plan for how to achieve this.
“I’m not foolish, I know that’s it’s likely to be that industrial action will be required to move the government on this issue … Do not be tempted to accept a pathetic future for our profession. We are worth more.”