https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/01/17/posties-union-threatens-fresh-strike-accusing-royal-mail-declaring/Posties' union threatens fresh strike after accusing Royal Mail of declaring 'industrial war'
17 JANUARY 2020 • 8:00PM By Ben Gartside and Oliver GillUnion’s leaders prepare for another ballot as it accuses company of declaring ‘industrial war’ on workers
Royal Mail is facing the renewed threat of a first national postal strike in more than a decade after union leaders accused the company of declaring “industrial war” on its workers.
In a letter to union branches seen by The Daily Telegraph, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said it will “begin preparations for another national ballot for industrial action, while supporting local ballot requests”, after talks with the company broke down over changes to working conditions.
In a post on social media, CWU general secretary Dave Ward added: “Talks with Royal Mail have broken down and we are now moving towards re-balloting our members for industrial action. We will run the biggest campaign the movement has ever seen.”
The union was blocked from taking strike action in the run-up to the general election and Christmas period after the High Court supported Royal Mail’s bid for an injunction last November. The judge agreed with Royal Mail that members had been “encouraged” to vote immediately at work, rather than at home or away from the office where there would be less pressure.
At the time the CWU accused the company of a “cowardly and vicious attack on its own workforce”.
On Friday, responding to the CWU’s threat to re-ballot its members, Shane O’Riordain, Royal Mail managing director of regulation and corporate affairs, said: “When we made our offer of talks, we made it clear that we needed to proceed with some key national trials and some much-needed, local operational improvements. All of these have been delayed by the industrial relations environment. In some cases, by well over a year.
“We are disappointed that CWU has said it is preparing another ballot of its members for industrial action. Irrespective of CWU’s decision, we offer the opportunity for ongoing talks.”
Union negotiators said they “remain ready for resolution negotiations” but would none the less prepare for strike action. They argued that management was pushing ahead with controversial reforms while talks were still ongoing.
“In effect management’s position is they will listen and talk to us but still go and do what they want. It is a declaration of industrial war,” the letter said.
It added: “To be absolutely clear, we are now back into campaign mode for another massive yes vote.”
In a video uploaded to Facebook, CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger attacked the Royal Mail’s “schizophrenic” management, who he said had reneged on pledges made to the union, on the basis of their “massive financial problems”.
In the company’s first-half results in November, Royal Mail chief executive Rico Back warned strike action and unfavourable economic conditions could tip the 504-year-old company back to loss in 2021. “We cannot afford an expensive resolution to the dispute with our unions,” he said at the time. “There is an urgency to agree on how we deliver the change we need. The longer this takes, the more year three of our plan becomes a risk.”
Royal Mail’s shares are down around 30pc in the past year.
Last week analysts at Deutsche Bank said the stock was its “top Sell in European transport,” arguing that profit forecasts remain too high.
“We think that the five year plan is far too ambitious,” the note said. The company is due to provide a trading update on Feb 6.