Royal Mail strike – mobilising our Divisions across the UK

Postal, Royal Mail Group (EMP)


‘We’re battle ready’ is the immediate response from CWU reps from all corners of the UK, as union prepares for biggest strike of the summer…

Around 115,000 postal workers have been called out for four days – Friday 26th and Wednesday 31st August and then Thursday 8th and Friday 9th September – in what will be the largest action of this 2022’s Hot Strike Summer.

As soon as the action was announced yesterday evening – by our general secretary Dave Ward and deputy general secretary postal Terry Pullinger – CWU reps all around the country got busy mobilizing and setting plans in place for the battle ahead.

CWU News asked our Divisional Representatives, senior field officers of the union, for their immediate reactions.


North Wales/North West & Midlands – ‘Stick together, dig in & see it through’

“Not before time brother,” was Ian Taylor’s first response to the callout, adding: “That’s the overwhelming feeling of the representatives and the members we’ve been speaking to, in the face of some unprecedented aggression by the business.”

Ian told us that, with over 100 workplaces – including the new Warrington ‘superhub’, as well as some of the larger delivery offices – and over 15,000 members, the North Wales/North West area is going to be crucial in the battle ahead and the plan is for meetings to be held at every unit between now and Strike Day One on 26th August.

“We’ve asked for there to be meetings in every single unit and every single member spoken to. We’ve got to win, we can win and I’ve got no doubt we’ll do it if we all stick together.”

Paul Kennedy told us that “our members will be up for this. They’re outraged about what’s happened on pay, with the company continually giving away so much money to shareholders – which our members find offensive.”

He estimates the Midlands membership at “about 16,000 members, with probably around 200 delivery offices, four mail centres, the national distribution hub and the national parcel hub.”

Midlands Division are meeting today and Paul said that he was expecting “a really good discussion, given Royal Mail’s completely unacceptable attitude.

He shares the optimism that the union can achieve a positive outcome, but he also warns that this is likely to be a tough dispute, saying that the current CEO Simon Thompson has “brought in a gang of managers from Jaguar/Land Rover who have a blueprint for the business,” which is not in the interests of the workforce.

“We need to prepare ourselves for quite a substantial dispute – dig in and see it through to victory.”


Anglia & South Central – ‘We’re the strongest trade union & members are chomping at the bit’

“The right decision and it’ll be fully supported from our members in Anglia,” says Barry Jennings, who praises our general secretary and DGSP as “the best leaders in the movement” and describes CWU members as “brilliant.”

As well as gate meetings at some 300 workplaces, the Division is also hoping to organise “a couple of mass meetings” among its approximately 14,000 members, he continues and predicts that the union can win this dispute.

“Of course we can win, we’re the strongest trade union in the movement.”

Reporting from South Central Division, Dermot Fuller says that the declaration was “inevitable and the only thing we could do in the circumstances.

“I think, from the conversations we’ve had with our members and their questions asking when we were going to announce something, that they were chomping at the bit and I think they’re ready to go.

“I think the general feeling is: ‘Bring it on’,” he says, adding that there are over 11,000 members in South Central, at approximately 100 units and that a meeting of reps is due to be held tomorrow.


Scotland, Northern Ireland & North East – ‘Massive support, we’re ready for action’

Fra Martin tells CWU News that the call-to-arms would be “much welcomed here in Northern Ireland” and predicted “massive support” across the Division’s circa 2,600 members working at around 25 workplaces.

“I’m delighted to hear it, it’s a long time overdue and also a very considered response by the union,” he says, adding that he was just returning from a members’ meeting in Lisburn and intends to visit further units in the coming few days.

“Northern Ireland is ready for action.”

“I’m up in Stirling at the moment,” says Tam Dewar, speaking as he prepared for a gate meeting at the town’s delivery office and having just returned from meeting with West Scotland and Clyde Valley reps.

Scotland’s approximately 10,000 members – at over 100 workplaces – will be “solid,” he continued and, strongly criticising the company’s bosses, Tam said: “The national leadership of Royal Mail leadership have treated our negotiators with contempt and they’ve absent during the talks. The people they’ve put in the talks wouldn’t know the difference between a parcel and a doughnut.

“Scotland the Brave is ready.”

South of the border, Bob Maguire describes the action announcement as “the right call at the right time” and that, “from the feedback I’ve been getting from members and reps, people are up for the action.”

Reps in the North East – a Division with around 15,000 members and over 150 workplaces – have been getting together today, Bob continues, adding that “the feeling I’m getting is that this is the right decision and that people are absolutely sick to the back teeth of Mr Thompson and his cronies.”


South East – ‘I’ve never seen such a unanimous feeling from members’

“It’s actually a relief to finally get some dates on the board,” says Steve Wisley “and the membership we represent in the South East are as one. People relaise if we don’t do something, we’ll be in a much worse position.”

Younger members are standing up strongly as well as the more experienced workers, Steve comments, estimating that this Division has “around 10,000 members” in “over 100” units, including mail centres at Medway, Gatwick, Croydon and Jubilee.

“It feels like we’re the forgotten workforce,” he continues. “Like they’re saying: ‘Thanks for your hard work in the pandemic, but we’re now in a new era and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got plenty and the rest of you have to make do with what’s left over’.

“We’re mobilising and, if you ask me whether we can win, I’d say we’ve got to win. More so for the next generation coming up behind us.”


London – ‘If they want a row, they’re going to get it’

“Our members welcome the call from Dave and Terry,” says Mark Palfrey. “Some are saying it’s long overdue.”

London Division is considering organising “some kind of event” on the first strike day, he continues, explaining that this will be at one of the larger of London’s circa 120 workplaces and that, in the meantime, area reps across London have been meeting members and continuing to engage with as many of the capital’s approximately 6,500 members as possible.

“Our members are in a good place, confident, but not complacent, and fully behind the action,” Mark says. “We think it’s going to be a long, bitter struggle, but we’re prepared to go all the way.

“What’s at stake is the future of the industry.”

While urging the company to get back to the negotiating table, Mark points out that if the business chooses conflict over peace, then the fault for the dispute lies squarely with Royal Mail bosses, saying: “We want agreement, but if they want a row, they’re going to get it.”


South Wales/South West – ‘Members are more confident and better organised than ’09 and ‘07’

“Back in 2007 and 2009, our reps had to spread themselves across the D.O. picket lines, because we had so many units without reps – but now, from all units, we’re getting volunteers to be picket supervisors,” reports South West assistant regional secretary Ian Trehearne.

“Those were big strikes with good turnouts, but this time I feel there’s more confidence among the membership – and all reports have been really positive all the way from Lands End to Worcester.”

Ian says that, when he heard the callout last night, his first reaction was: “It’s about time – Royal Mail have been really pushing their luck over the recent period and members have become massively p****d off, especially after they worked so hard all through the pandemic.

“We can win. We will win – we’ve got to win.”

CWU Wales secretary Gary Watkins told CWU News that “Royal Mail’s position on pay is untenable” and that “branches here are calling together their central committees and starting to organise their pickets – everyone’s up for it.”

Gary also said that his office is receiving calls from members asking about the recently launched Enough is Enough campaign, which the CWU is supporting and which is also being backed by the RMT rail union and several Labour MPs and activists. “It has cut through with people, linking it to the cost-of-living crisis,” he said.