Royal Mail Strike : Cancellation or Postponment?

Royal Mail Strike: Cancelled or Postponed?

Yesterday the above strike planned for 4th November was called off by both the union and the new employer. A joint statement agreed legal protection for employees beyond the current 3 year offer. This is a gain for the union as only one year was offered previously.

An improved pay offer, and pensions agreement, was also a union gain. But there is no detail. An alternative dispute resolution process is offered. But again there is no detail. Further, why is there no mention of ACAS resolution expertise over many years?

An agreement on “aligning resources to workload” sounds both vague and a gain for the employer. An agreement on values and principles sounds like more vagueness, but should be easy for both sides to sign up to. Finally, all of 9 separate points must be agreed within 2 weeks, or the agreement falls. This is easier for management to deliver; the  union may have consult with all its members.   This could take much longer.

Protecting wages and conditions is obviously the correct tactic, irrespective of recent privatisation. The ballot for a strike, supported by a 4 to 1 majority, is extended to 20th November. This extension is a significant union gain, as it will not have to do another ballot. The real fear by the union was the introduction of franchising, zero hour contracts and variable contracts. This may well be the stumbling block that produces a strike.

Nonetheless this is a union climb down; similar to another union climb down over Grangemouth in Scotland. It is difficult not be pessimistic for the union in this national political climate. But there are real gains for the union so far in their negotiations with a newly privatised management. Future details will allow a better analysis. In particular wages and conditions details are crucial.

Finally, note there was no discussion of a no-strike deal; indeed the possibility of a strike after 20th November has been agreed.

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