The royal mail industrial dispute
Two days of national strike action was taken in October 2009, supported by an overwhelming YES vote of three to one launched by Communication Workers Union (CWU). The dispute over pay, job securities and working conditions is still continuing although CWU has suspended strike to provide a period of calm for the Union and Royal Mail to negotiate a full and final agreement on the introduction of automation and relevant working practices.
The strained relations of both sides reveal the sensitive and complicated employer-employee relationship. Since the employee plays a vital role in the management, how to deal with the mutual relationships and ease the ...view middle of the document...
However, on 5th November, it was announced that a series of national strikes had been called off until at least the New Year to allow time for fresh talks in order to reach a long term agreement. The industrial action led to a backlog of tens of millions of items of undelivered mail, with an estimated 30 million letters and parcels affected after the first wave of walkouts (TIMES ONLINE, 2009). The national postal strike only serves to damage the reputation of Royal Mail irrevocably and deeply, hurt its consumers and business especially those small and medium enterprises that depend on postal delivery and force more customers to look at alternatives. It was forecasted that Royal Mail might lose up to 62.9 million pounds of mail business before Christmas period (Brian, 2009). Moreover, this national industrial action could cost UK businesses about 1.5 billion pounds in lost revenues (Russell, 2009).
History of Royal Mail & the Communication Workers Union
Royal Mail Holdings is a state-owned limited company of the United Kingdom which founded in 1660. Royal Mail is responsible for national mail collection and delivery in the UK. It collects approximate 84 million items every working day directly from its 113,000 post boxes, 14,300 Post Office branches and from around 87,000 businesses. These items pass through its network of 70 mail centres, 8 regional distribution centres (for customer sorted mail) and 3,000 delivery offices. Then its fleet of over 30,000 red vehicles and 33,000 bicycles help it to deliver them to their final destination (ROYALMAILGROUP, 2009). Since 2006, the profits of Royal Mail had dropped year on year. In 2008, the BBC reported that Royal Mail had suffered an annual loss of £279 million in financial 2007 (BBC NEWS, 2008).
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is the main trade union for people working for telephone, cable, DSL and postal delivery companies, with 220,000 members, which was founded in 1995 (TRADE UNION CONGRESS, 2009).
Backgrounds of Dispute
Dated from 1971, Royal Mail experienced a seven-week strike for workers’ pay rise and wildcat strikes in 2003 (LIBCOM, 2006). On 7 June, 2007, the union’s postal members voted by 77.5 per cent to strike after a 2.5 per cent pay rise coupled with £350 million annually for continuous five years of cuts was offered (BBC NEWS, 2007). They took their first strike on 29 June and the second one on 12 and 13 July. In December 2008, workers at Mail Centres voted for strike action on Friday 19 December which might result in the negative effect of Christmas deliveries (BBC NEWS, 2008). Since June 2009, a series of localized strikes have taken place throughout the UK. Owing to the failure to reach an agreement on both sides’ interests, the dispute escalated to a national strike action.
Identification and Analysis of Dispute
The industrial action is the direct cause of the main disputes over pay, job securities and working conditions. Owing to 10 per cent annual...