Hopes rise for Christmas post as union offers last ditch talks with Royal Mail to avoid strikes

LONDON ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Strikers from the CWU Trade Union attend the picket line at Peckham Royal Mail centre on November 24, 2022 in London, England. Strikes planned for the Black Friday weekend - Getty
LONDON ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Strikers from the CWU Trade Union attend the picket line at Peckham Royal Mail centre on November 24, 2022 in London, England. Strikes planned for the Black Friday weekend - Getty

Union bosses have called for last-minute talks with Royal Mail executives in a bid to save the Christmas post.

Postal workers are preparing for walkouts beginning on Wednesday and throughout December that threaten to delay Christmas presents and cards. 

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents 110,000 postal workers, wrote to Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson on Sunday calling for “intensive negotiations”.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the union, said in a letter workers were willing to reopen talks on Monday and Tuesday to avert further strike action.

Mr Ward said he would also write to Royal Mail chairman Keith Williams and the company’s board with an alternative plan on working arrangements and pay.

Union officials rejected an 11th hour pay offer from Royal Mail executives last week amid walkouts during the Black Friday sales. Further industrial action is planned on Nov 30 as well as Dec 1, 9, 11, 14, 15, 23, 24.

Royal Mail made a “best and final” pay increase of up to 9pc over 18 months, rather than the next two years. The company also offered improved “family friendly” hours for posties to pick up children from school.

The terms were rejected by unions, however, who warned on Sunday that bosses were risking the “destruction of a 500-year-old public service and the end of the Royal Mail brand as we know it”.

Union officials accused Royal Mail bosses of “asset stripping” amid plans to cut 10,000 jobs. Mr Ward said the cuts were the “biggest assault on any group of UK workers in decades”.

With soaring inflation in the double digits, the CWU has argued that Royal Mail needs to provide a better pay deal for staff, but executives at the postal service had said any deal would be contingent on workplace reforms to better compete with rivals such as tech giant Amazon.

Royal Mail, however, has warned it is losing £1m per day and that the strikes had added £100m to its losses this year. Bosses want to modernise the service to offer deliveries seven days per week, utilise increased automation and introduce later finishing times.