Royal Mail – bosses’ shabby treatment provokes another massive strike vote

Royal Mail Group (EMP), Postal


Cleaners, maintenance engineers and related admin workers return a 93.5% YES to strike action over pay and change…

“Today’s result sends another loud and clear message to the so-called ‘leadership’ of this company that their selfish attitudes will never work,” said acting CWU DGSP Andy Furey after the result of a nationwide poll of members working in Royal Mail’s property and facilities (P&FS) functions was announced today.

“These members were every bit as crucial to the magnificent Royal Mail effort during the pandemic as our frontline workers – their essential cleaning, repair and maintenance work keep the delivery offices, mail centres, RDCs and VOCs safe, hygienic and in operation – and it’s shameful that they’ve been treated so shabbily by the company since then. No wonder they’re angry,” he added.

CWU assistant secretaries Mark Baulch and Carl Maden – the national officers for P&FS cleaners and engineers and admin staff respectively – also welcomed the result, Mark saying: “It’s a fantastic majority and one that clearly shows our cleaners are as determined as everyone else to stand and fight for a fair deal,” while Carl commented: “A big thank you to everyone who voted in support of the union’s strike call. We are now calling on P&FS to get in the room and negotiate an agreement, before we have to take strike action.”

From 2000 until 2016, the property and facilities functions were carried out on a semi-outsourced basis under the auspices of ‘ROMEC’, which was partly owned by Royal Mail and partly owned by private companies. Following a long campaign led by the CWU, Royal Mail brought the whole operation back in-house in 2016, existing employees were kept on and the division was rebranded as Royal Mail ‘P&FS’. However, negotiations over pay, terms and conditions have continued to function separately.

One reason why the anger among our P&FS cleaners is particularly acute is due to the fact that, in the pay negotiations, P&FS management’s position was to offer no annual pay rise at all to any employees who had received a Real Living Wage (RLW) adjustment in April, a decision which excluded the vast majority of cleaners – and which directly contradicted a promise set out within a clear and joint agreement made by the business with the union at the time not to link the two.

Mark Baulch explained: “They made a formal commitment back in March, in writing and fully documented, and which is jointly signed, that the RLW uplift would be applied outside of the formal pay talks and ‘without prejudice’ to the 2022/23 annual pay negotiations. And yet, just a few months later, that management promise was wilfully broken – it was an absolute disgrace.”

A very small proportion of the company’s cleaners were offered an increase – 50p an hour to a group of mobile cleaners, with a cash lump-sum payment to others who received no RLW adjustment – but that still left around 90 per cent of our cleaning members with no annual pay rise, while our engineers and admin members were offered the same 2 per cent that was imposed across Royal Mail Group.

As well as pay, the union is also – and has been for several years – seeking parity with the rest of Royal Mail Group employees in a number of key areas. The most important of these are pensions, leave entitlement, average holiday pay and paid maternity and paternity leave.