Royal Mail managers across the UK are poised to take industrial action in the next two weeks in a dispute over jobs and pay.
Unite, the union that represents the workers, said 2,400 managers would work to rule between 15 and 19 July, followed by strike action between 20 and 22 July over Royal Mail’s plan to cut 700 jobs and slash pay by up to £7,000.
Last year, Royal Mail paid out £400m to shareholders and made a £311m profit, the union said.
It said its members had no other option but to take strike action as months of consultation had failed to produce an agreement.
Unite called on Royal Mail to restore jobs, arguing that the proposed cuts were so savage they would destroy the service.
The Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “This business is awash with cash but it is putting profits and dividends for the few at the top ahead of its duties as a public service.
“There is not a single aspect of these cuts which is about improving customer service. They are being driven entirely by a culture of greed and profiteering which has seized a 500-year-old essential service, driving it close to ruin.”
Unite argues that removing hundreds more posts would make the six-day postal service that the company is obliged to run by the regulator, Ofcom, impossible to sustain.
The Unite national officer with responsibility for Royal Mail, Mike Eatwell, added: “The business is seeking to cut 700 posts on top of the 1,200 cut last year.
“For those managers who remain, they face cuts to their salaries of up to £7,000. People who gave their working lives to this business will lose their homes. It is no wonder then that our members are angry and ready to take strike action.”
Industrial action by the managers, who voted by 86% to strike (89% in Northern Ireland), will affect the postal and parcel service immediately across Great Britain and Northern Ireland. According to Unite, during the work to rule and strike action, managers will take their breaks and start and finish on time, weekend volunteer operation will not be covered and managers will not work extra unpaid hours. It said some key services, including next day delivery and tracked items, would be delayed.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that Unite/CMA [the Communication Managers’ Association] has notified us of planned industrial action. There are no grounds for industrial action. The extended consultation on our recent restructure concluded earlier this year, and the restructuring is complete.
“We committed to protecting pay for all managers who stay with Royal Mail, and the vast majority have seen an increase in their earnings. We allowed managers to request voluntary redundancy with a package of up to two years’ salary, which was oversubscribed. We also made several concessions during the process, which Unite declined.
“We have contingency plans in place to minimise disruption for customers in the event of industrial action, and we will work to keep people, businesses and the country connected.”
The industrial action is not related to the ballot of about 115,000 postal workers belonging to the Communication Workers Union. Members started voting at the end of June on whether to stage a campaign of industrial action, with the result expected on 19 July.