A postal union leader has threatened to put a spanner in the works of Royal Mail’s sell-off plans by pressing ahead with a boycott of final mile deliveries without a formal ballot for industrial action.
Although illegal, the Communication Workers Union claim has been seen by some observers as a last-ditch attempt to derail privatisation by showing investors that Royal Mail still has difficult industrial relations issues.
CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “The industrial side of things is going to hot up between now and any sale. We recognise that the government are determined to carry this through, but we don’t think it’s too late. As far as we are concerned everything is still to play for.”
This week the postal operator is expected to announce bumper profits, possibly up to twice last year’s figures, fuelled by a rise in business from its parcels division from online shoppers.
The profits rise will make the case for privation even stronger, with a stock market flotation pencilled in for this autumn. Observers believe the company could be worth between £2bn and £3bn.
This week the CWU will launch its consultative ballot on the boycott. It is also asking members to endorse non-co-operation with any further efficiency measures and back the union’s claim for a pay rise without productivity strings. The result is due on June 19.
If there is a “yes” result, the executive will set an early date to begin the action, arguing that no formal ballot is needed because it would be action to protect the Universal Service rather than a trade dispute.
“It is for a judge to determine whether it’s unlawful or not, not Royal Mail or any third party,” Ward said. If the CWU defied a court injunction, it would be open to fines and sequestration of assets.
The CWU’s main beef is that private operators such as TNT Post are cherry-picking the most lucrative rounds. The Dutch-owned company, which began its trial mail delivery service 13 months ago in West London, is now preparing to roll out the service to South West London.
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