Balloting, which took place two weeks ago, prior to many of the most significant developments in the Covid-19 crisis, delivered overwhelming support for strike action, with 94.5% voting in favour. Turnout among CWU membership was 63.4%.
The vote took place “in opposition to Royal Mail’s attacks on jobs and services” which the CWU said "might turn the service into “just another glorified parcels carrier”. Given the increasing spread of Covid-19, however, union representatives pledged that workers would offer their services as an additional emergency service in exchange for the Royal Mail Group acting on the union’s demands.
A statement signed jointly by CWM general secretary Dave Ward and his deputy Terry Pullinger said: “In recognition of the fact that Royal Mail Group is the only service that connects every address in this country via its universal service, something our dispute is seeking to protect, we have made a proposal to the company based on putting the interests of the nation first.
“We want the public we serve, the government and shareholders to know that we want to set aside our differences with Royal Mail and subject to prioritising the health and safety of our members, we want postal workers to become an additional emergency service in the UK. We believe this could really help the country in these unprecedented times.
“Postal workers are embedded in every community in the UK. They are trusted figures. They are part of the social fabric of society. It’s time to utilise the companies' unrivalled infrastructure and daily reach across every city, town, village and rural community, remembering that for a lot of people the only person they will see every day will be their local postal worker.”
The CWU called on the Royal Mail Group to introduce “the very best” health and safety provisions and equipment for staff in return for this proposal.
If the agreement goes ahead, the CWU pledged to include delivering medical aid, checking in on elderly and vulnerable people, delivering local-to-local services, supporting people working from home and assisting in food bank collections and general food delivery for those in need.
The CWU will also be writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a bid to gain government support for this proposed approach.