|Volume 49 Number 19, November 6, 2019||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has responded strongly to Royal Mail's offer to enter into discussions "without preconditions" if the union provides a binding commitment to remove the threat of strike action over the Christmas period. Dave Ward, the CWU's general secretary, pointed out that a demand for such a binding commitment was itself a precondition, irrespective of the fact that the postal service is reported to have written to the CWU on October 28, saying that it would extend the life of the ballot result by the same amount of time as the pause on industrial action.
The vast majority (97.1%) of around 110,000 voters backed strike action from a 76% turnout of the CWU's members earlier in October. Now the erstwhile Business Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, has accused the postal union of making a "politically calculated" bid to stop people voting in the general election. This accusation itself is transparently "politically calculated".
Andrea Leadsom's comments drew an angry response from the CWU, which pointed out that it had not yet called any action. In a statement on Twitter it said: "We had our ballot in play well before the election. Don't blame us for your incompetence." The union added: "If you didn't privatise Royal Mail we wouldn't be here."
The CWU has explained that Royal Mail's 2018 agreement to increase pay, reform pensions and reduce weekly working hours from 39 to 35 by 2022, subject to productivity improvements, was now not being honoured by the company's new leadership.
In response to a tendentious video posted by Royal Mail on its website alongside a press release on Tuesday, the CWU tweeted that afternoon:
"Royal Mail Group's position in this dispute is born out of dogma and raised on deceit. Today's press release is a total sham designed to undermine the CWU and any prospect of an agreement.
"The 'significant step' they refer to was actually proposed by the CWU on October 8, 2019. That offer was to move immediately from mediation to formal negotiations with the proposal that the CWU would not give any notice to take industrial action for effectively six weeks, at which point we would reflect on the genuine nature of the negotiations.
"RMG rejected that offer in preference to wait for the external mediator's report. They refused to meet all last week and only offered a four-hour slot this week.
"Their letter referred to in their press release was emailed late yesterday after 17.00hrs and was the subject of a press release before we met today. Ask yourself, is this the actions of people trying to resolve this dispute?
"Equally today they have rejected significant recommendations from the external mediator's report making it impossible for talks to resolve all issues."
(Sources: PrintWeek, PoliticsHome)