UK's Royal Mail on strike as further industrial action looms

More than 100,000 postal workers stage another walkout in row over pay and conditions

Royal Mail staff join a Communication Workers Union (CWU) strike, outside a post office in London.  EPA
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Royal Mail employees have gone on strike in Britain as the country braces for more industrial action ahead of what is being called a new “winter of discontent”.

Britain has been hit by a wave of strikes in the past year, with rail employees, barristers and refuse workers having already walked out over pay and conditions amid a cost-of-living crisis.

Fears are growing that teachers, nurses and other NHS workers could add to the strike action after being balloted by their unions over underinflation pay rises.

About 115,000 members from the The Communication Workers Union (CWU) joined the latest stoppage on Thursday, described as Britain's biggest strike this year so far.

Picket lines were mounted outside Royal Mail offices on the sixth day of action in recent months.

The union accuses Royal Mail of planning structural change which would effectively see employees in secure, well-paid jobs turned into a “casualised, financially precarious workforce overnight”.

The CWU said plans include delaying the arrival of post to members of the public by three hours, cuts in workers’ sick pay and inferior terms for new employees.

Dock workers and Unite the Union members picket outside Liverpool Docks. Getty.

General Secretary Dave Ward said that postal workers face their “biggest ever assault on their jobs, terms and conditions in the history of Royal Mail”.

“The public and businesses also face the end of daily deliveries and destruction of the special relationship that postal workers and the public have in every community in the UK.”

The union has announced 19 further days of strike action in the coming weeks.

A representative for Royal Mail said that the company must modernise its working practices to address its losses, which it says amount to £1 million per day.

New strikes or ballots for industrial action are seemingly announced every week. Here are some of the strikes and potential disputes taking place over the next few weeks:

— October 13: Postal workers have begun a new strike over pay and conditions, with 19 further days of strike action in the coming weeks.

— October 21: A GMB ballot of 100,000 local government workers closes.

— October 22: Train drivers on Avanti West Coast services to strike in dispute over rosters.

— October 27: A Unison strike ballot of 400,000 NHS workers in England, Scotland and Wales opens.

— November 2: A strike ballot of Royal College of Nursing members closes.

— November 6: Train drivers on Avanti West Coast services to strike again.

— November 11: A strike ballot of sixth-form teachers over a pay dispute closes.

— November 11: A strike ballot of Royal College of Midwives members opens.

— Date TBC: Strike ballots of GMB union members in all 10 ambulance trusts in England will be held.

Updated: October 13, 2022, 3:39 PM