111,000 Royal Mail workers will walk out on strike for 48 hours from noon on October 19 in a dispute over pensions, pay and jobs, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said.
Members of the CWU voted massively in favour of industrial action, with 83% of those who voted backing the idea. The CWU accusing the company of carrying out a "relentless" programme of cost-cutting to maximise short-term profits and big shareholder returns. General secretary Dave Ward said it was a "watershed dispute" that would determine the future of the service.
In the first major test of the Government’s controversial Trade Union Act, which requires strike ballots to have a 50 per cent turnout, 89 per cent of CWU members backed industrial action. And at 74 per cent, the turnout easily passed the legal threshold. The union's deputy general secretary, Terry Pullinger, said: "It is highly disappointing that after 18 months of negotiations including external mediation that we have reached this point.
The union says the company has closed its defined benefit, or final salary, pension scheme, offering new entrants an "inferior" scheme which the CWU claim will leave them in "pensioner poverty". Royal Mail said it was "very disappointed" that staff had voted in favour of the first national strike since the company was privatised in October 2013, and had originally insisted strikes in October were impossible because the union had agreed to a lengthy arbitration process first. However this was dismissed as ‘rubbish’ and said controversial changes made to pensions meant that agreement was now void.
Postal workers delivered a massive Yes vote for strike action and we are determined to take whatever steps are necessary. They say it unilaterally closed its final salary pension scheme, with new employees going into a separate scheme that will pay less. The CWU said its members in Parcelforce will also be involved in the strike!
Rail workers are staging fresh strikes at four train operators, claiming that support from the public for their campaign over guards is "flooding in". Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia were said to be "solidly supporting" the second 24-hour walkout of the week, with no sign of the deadlock being broken.Workers on the new South Western Railway franchise are set to join the strikes after voting heavily in favour of industrial action in a similar row over the role of guards and driver-only trains.
Here's to solidarity, good luck and best wishes to all our brothers and sisters in both the CWU and the RMT. Keep on fighting against injustice in the workplace.
Alwyn Jones for Political Provocateur