Royal Mail condemned the strikes as “an appalling and unjustified attack on customers”.
“Customers large and small have been hoping the CWU would lift the strike threats and focus on providing the service they need and want,” said Royal Mail managing director Mark Higson.
“Instead the union has given them a slap in the face.”
The CWU said talks were continuing and strike action could still be avoided. “We made a genuine offer to Royal Mail that would have given space for detailed discussions without a strike,” said Dave Ward, deputy general secretary of the CWU. He added “We were severely disappointed that within two or three hours the company rejected it, apparently without even affording it proper consideration.”
The union has to give one week’s notice of when strike action will be taken, so Thursday was the soonest the action could take place.
Last week, members of the CWU voted by three-to-one to support strike action as part of a dispute about pay, modernisation and working conditions. The union called on the government to intervene in the dispute, especially regarding the pension deficit, which it estimated would exceed £10bn.
“This government has recently intervened in the problems of Vauxhall and Lloyds Bank,” Mr Ward said.
“They are the sole shareholder of Royal Mail and it is unbelievable that they continue to stand aside.”
The Royal Mail had more strong words for the union.
“The CWU’s strike announcement simply shows just how dishonest the union’s claim to embrace the need to modernise is and underlines the union’s opposition to simple changes such as its members working flexibly for all of the hours they are paid and using the equipment provided to do the job,” Mr Higson said. “Instead the CWU is demanding an absolute veto over future change and modernisation – and demanding more money – backed up with strike action, which they know will drive customers away.”
Business Link is helping businesses to understand how the strike could impact on their, and is offering practical advice on contingency planning.
The Business Link website has just launched a dedicated webpage with ideas on what businesses can do to mitigate any disruptions to their operations. Businesses are encouraged to check this webpage at www.businesslink.gov.uk/postalstrike for practical tips and links to other sources of useful information.
If you do need to use the Royal Mail during the strike, Business Link suggests that you consider:
- contacting your customers to let them know that their goods may be delayed
- taking outgoing mail to a Post Office as it is more likely to be collected there than from a post box
- sending post by Special Delivery or by courier – but check with Post Office staff that these services are running
- using alternative businesses to deliver items to customers
- paying bills online or at banks, building societies and Post Offices as late payment may result in interest charges or penalties.