CWU members' gate meeting outside Mount Pleasant, Hackney. Photo: London SP
CWU members' gate meeting outside Mount Pleasant, Hackney. Photo: London SP

Vote ‘yes’ for a no-strings inflation-based pay rise

Socialist Party members in CWU

The Communication Workers Union (CWU)’s social media is filling up with photos of defiant gatherings of postal workers all over the country holding up posters saying “vote yes” to action.

Negotiations over the 2022 pay deal have broken down. The CWU has activated the official four-week process, so that, unless a resolution can be found, the union can take industrial action.

Leaflets and posters are being distributed and gate meetings taking place.

In 2021 the CWU agreed a new ‘Pathway to Change’ agreement, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by CWU members in an individual ballot. The agreement included a pay deal for 2020 and 2021, but not 2022.

Profit and payouts at the top

The work of CWU members has transformed Royal Mail finances. In 2019, the bosses believed their losses would be around one billion pounds. Instead, Royal Mail made significant profit.

We were key workers during the pandemic, continuing to serve the public on the front line. Many members suffered from Covid, possibly caught while working.  We also suffered at the start from lack of PPE.

We had to implement changes to the work, which often meant the job was harder to perform.  This included staggered attendance times to improve social distancing, and getting public transport to first delivery points. In fact, we introduced the biggest number of revisions in decades.

And Royal Mail achieved a pre-tax profit of £311 million in the six months to 26 September 2021.  Revenue rose by 7% year-on-year to £6.1 billion.

On the back of this, Royal Mail awarded £400 million to shareholders! 

Simon Thompson, CEO of Royal Mail, wrote to the CWU to say: “Our people have been exceptional through the pandemic to deliver for the country in such challenging circumstances and the cost-of-living pressures they face are real.  We also acknowledge that our people have worked hard and have earned a pay rise.”

And the offer? Nothing at all, unless we accept strings!

Pay cuts and strings for us

If we accept all the strings, we will get 2% backdated to April 2022. Once all the strings have been introduced, we would get a further 1.5%, but not backdated.

RPI inflation is 9.4%! We have national insurance rises this month, energy prices have more than doubled and fuel is also increasing to record levels. 

The strings include Sunday working no longer being voluntary, increased flexibility and annualised hours – so you work different hours depending on the volume of work, and overtime and finishing times are removed. They include a reduction of sick leave and a review of all allowances and supplements. They also include a two-tier workforce, with new starters on inferior pay and conditions. 

The Pathway to Change agreement is clear that any proposed changes to working practices should be discussed with the union and should not be linked to pay.

We have been left with no alternative. The Royal Mail board has insulted all CWU members with a pay offer which is really a pay cut, and which is dependent on issues which have not even been mentioned over the last year.

Now is the time once again for all CWU members to rise up and fight for what we deserve.