August 31, 2022 11.03 am This story is over 22 months old

‘Rich get richer, poor get poorer’: Royal Mail workers strike over pay terms

The union want a no-strings pay rise

By Local Democracy Reporter

Royal Mail postal workers are on strike in Lincoln, calling for a no strings pay deal that will help staff survive the cost of living crisis, amid huge profits and shareholder bonuses.

The strike action of the Communication Workers Union in Royal Mail, Parcelforce and Fleet has seen over 100,000 workers walk out on work since protests began on Tuesday.

Further strikes are planned by Royal Mail staff on September 8 and 9, with postal worker strikes likely to disrupt deliveries of packages and letters.

It comes after the rejection of a 2% pay rise for workers, which the CWU say would equate to a real terms pay cut. The union claims that Royal Mail Group “pleads poverty” but actually cuts money from the industry to give to shareholders.

A picket line has been set up outside the delivery office, as the CWU call for fairer pay terms. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Royal Mail Group announced a profit of £758 million earlier this year, which the trade unionists say is a direct result of the key worker staff who continued to turn up to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union says it wrote to Royal Mail Group this February, calling for a no-strings pay increase to help combat the rising cost of living, but the company did not respond or meet with the CWU until after their April deadline.

One of the members on strike, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I just feel that Royal Mail is an iconic business, it’s been around for more than 500 years and I feel really sad that we’re being treated really badly at the moment.

“It’s not about the money, the whole country is a mess. We all love working there, we all love the business, but the things they wanted us to do for a 2% pay rise are ridiculous.

“They wanted us to work later hours, Sundays, no sick pay, and it’s just not on. We’ve worked really hard and I just feel that they’re trying to break the business up.

“The guys at the top earn millions, shareholders earn millions and then all of a sudden they don’t have the money to pay us. It’s the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.”

Royal Mail bosses have said the firm could be damaged by strike action. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

A general CWU statement reads: “The reality is that many millions of pounds have gone out of this industry and into shareholders’ pockets to the tune of £2 billion since privatisation in 2013, and since 2021 over £600 million.

“It is little wonder that we are striking, when senior managers and board members have also received significant pay rises, bonus payments and been given extra shares during that period.

“They continue to accept obscene financial payments but think that a pittance is acceptable for us. We will continue to support our union to show Royal Mail Group that their actions are unacceptable.”

| Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

The group says that this could dispute could yet drag on “unless management attitudes alter”, as the CWU accuse Royal Mail of digging their heels in with pay negotiations.

A picket line of RMT workers outside Lincoln train station on Wednesday, striking over pay and job security. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

The industrial action is a similar dispute to that of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, which saw the train network brought to its knees in June and July.

It isn’t the first time the CWU has made itself known in Lincoln recently, with BT workers setting up a picket line outside the BT call centre in the city, calling for better pay terms for staff.

The Royal Mail strike is also taking place on the same day as a nation-wide strike by Reach journalists, the biggest strike over pay and conditions in the newspaper industry in a generation.