Royal Mail CEO warns on strike action

Jo Francis
Friday, November 25, 2022

Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson has warned CWU leadership to “reflect on saving Christmas and their members’ jobs” amid ongoing strike action at the group.

Thompson: CWU has accused him of being almost at war with his own workers
Thompson: CWU has accused him of being almost at war with his own workers

In a video clip and interview broadcast on Sky News yesterday as the two-day strike began, Thompson said: “We are always available to talk but I just want to make it clear that we have been talking intensively over the last three weeks, with the help of Acas, including all of the weekends.

“So what I would really encourage the CWU to do, and actually the CWU leadership to do, is really take the chance now to reflect, and reflect on saving Christmas and their members’ jobs. And I really hope they make the right decision.”

He reiterated the claim that Royal Mail is currently losing £1m per day, and described the 9% pay deal final offer on the table as “incredibly fair”. He also said that based on the negotiations that took place last week, he had been confident that an agreement would have been reached before the current strike dates. 

The 9% deal is over 18 months.

Thompson said that he was focused on delivering “what customers want”, in the shape of a seven days a week parcel service. 

He also apologised to customers for the disruption caused by the industrial dispute. 

Royal Mail was trending on Twitter as the 48-hour strike began. Around 115,000 CWU members were striking yesterday and today, Black Friday, with further action planned for next week. 

CWU general secretary Dave Ward also appeared on Sky News, and said: “I really do wish people could look into what’s actually taking place here – not what the company is saying, the truth.

“They want to turn it into just another parcel courier. The people running this company have so much to answer for. We don’t want to be on strike, we want to reach an agreement.”

Ward alleged that members had been subject to threats and intimidation involving micro-management and having pressure put on them to work beyond their contracted hours. 

“The leader of this company spends all of his time on his workplace social media platform almost at war with his own workers. No CEO in the world would behave in that way and be allowed to get away with it.”

The CWU carried out a 'no confidence' campaign against Thompson earlier this week. 

A number of businesses, including SME sellers on eBay, have described the Black Friday action as disastrous to trade.

Today’s Mirror newspaper front page story highlights the nearly £2bn in dividends paid to shareholders since the business was privatised in 2013, alongside a picture of Czech tycoon Daniel Kretinsky, whose Luxembourg-headquartered Vesa Equity Investment is the biggest shareholder in Royal Mail parent International Distributions Services. Vesa was previously subject to potential intervention under national security powers if its stake went about 25%.

Ward claimed that Royal Mail was sacking existing postal workers while at the same time retaining 11,000 agency workers and taking other people on as lower paid self-employed ‘gig economy’ workers. 

Royal Mail announced plans to axe up to 10,000 jobs in October. The eight days of industrial action so far have cost the business around £100m.

Further strike action is planned for next week, and into December.

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