Strike threat sparks fears of fresh direct mail slump

royal_mail1The direct mail industry fears that the threat of Royal Mail strike action could scupper any chance of a major recovery for the medium, which is already suffering from a nasty bout of GDPR jitters.

Yesterday, the Communication Workers Union voted overwhelmingly in favour of striking in a dispute over job security and employment terms and conditions, backing action by 97% in a turnout of almost 76%.

Although strike dates have yet to be announced the union has said it could target the postal service around Christmas and Black Friday.

CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said the union and its members were facing the “fight of our lives”.

Pullinger added: “Just over one year ago the Royal Mail Group Board and the CWU agreed a blueprint agreement for the future, a progressive agreement that included a historic pension solution, a mutual interest driven relationship and a joint vision for a successful postal service with social aims.

“The new RMG leadership are breaking that agreement. Our members take honour seriously and have voted to fight for that agreement against those who now seek to break up the great British postal service in the interest of fast-track profit and greed.

“Integrity and pride still matters and we will not stand aside and see what we have spent our working lives building destroyed.”

Royal Mail insisted it wants to reach an agreement but that industrial action, or the threat of it, is damaging for its business and undermines the trust of customers. It added that the company was in mediation with the CWU and “committed to reaching a resolution”.

However, one industry insider said: “Here we go again. Just 12 months after the last threat of industrial action, along comes another one. Trying to convince clients that mailshots are the way forward is challenging enough already, when they can run digital campaigns for a fraction of the price.

“We all know that direct mail is more effective but we are competing against the Internet, which never sleeps. Royal Mail is stuck in a Seventies’ industrial relations time-warp. Both sides need to get it sorted – and fast.”

Another source added: “By all accounts, Partially Addressed Mail is gaining traction among clients, but potential strike action could shut that down immediately. We can prove direct mail is working but if the posties aren’t working, we’re buggered.

“You have to wonder whether the DMA is doing anything to try to get both sides together or is it too busy being a ‘data organisation’ these days?”

Last month it was revealed that GDPR’s effect on direct mail volumes is far worse than previously reported, with a 30% reduction in mailshots received by UK households, equivalent to 2.8 billion fewer items across the country every year. However, consumers have reported that mailshots are now more relevant.

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