Royal Mail workers have offered to set aside their differences with bosses to become the “fourth emergency service” during the coronavirus crisis, delivering medical aid and food, checking on the elderly and vulnerable, and supporting people working from home.
The offer follows an overwhelming victory in the latest Communications Workers’ Union strike ballot, called as part of the union’s long-running dispute over job security and employment terms and conditions. Some 94.5% of workers voted for action on a turnout of 63.4%, compared to a ballot held last year which saw 97% support strikes on a turnout of almost 76%. However, this ballot was blocked by the High Court.
The CWU insists the new vote represents “a huge mandate” to fight Royal Mail management. However, instead of ploughing ahead with strike action, the CWU is now offering to “put the nation first”.
In a statement, it 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.”
It adds: “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.
“With this in mind we have called for Royal Mail Group to step back from their attacks in the workplace, imposing unagreed changes and destroying the very morale and vocational sense of purpose the nation now needs, and work with the union to enact our proposal.”
The CWU added that postal workers can play a crucial role in keeping everyone in this country connected and informed, delivering medical aid, checking on the elderly and vulnerable, delivering local mail to local services and supporting people working from home. Postal workers could also assist with foodbank collections and deliver food parcels to people in need.”
The statement concluded: “In any national emergency in our history and in our day-to-day existence, the universal postal service has played a vital role. These unprecedented events remind us all that postal workers always come through and will stand ready to serve the nation again, but Royal Mail Group must play their part by agreeing our proposal and ensuring the very best standards of safety and support to its employees.”
The CWU has sent its proposal to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and has called for a meeting with Royal Mail bosses later this week.
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