Royal Mail staff announce strike action in August and September in latest blow for UK supply chains

Wed 10 Aug 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

UK logistics Royal Mail Amazon face strikes

Royal Mail staff have become the latest workers to vote for industrial action in a move that will impact supply chains in the UK.

Some 115,000 Royal Mail workers are set to walk out for four days this summer (26 and 31 August, 8 and 9 September) over an ongoing pay dispute.

Logistics hit

A Royal Mail spokesperson told the Telegraph reports that the strike would cripple the postal service on the targeted days, resulting in millions of households waiting for important deliveries and letters.

Ricky McAulay, Royal Mail’s operations director, said: “After more than three months of talks, the CWU have failed to engage in any meaningful discussion on the changes we need to modernise, or to come up with alternative ideas.”

Despite increased competition, Royal Mail remains the dominant player in the UK parcels market with a 35% market share - more than double the second-placed company, Amazon Logistics, with 15%.

Pay rise

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) – which represents the workers – has rejected a pay rise offer “worth up to 5.5%” after three months of talks, reports the BBC.

With inflation at a 40-year high of 9.4% and expected the peak at 13% later this year, the CWU wants an offer that “covers the current cost of living”.

Affordability issue

Speaking on the BBC Today programme, Royal Mail chairman Keith Williams CBE said that the organisation had worked well with unions in the past but that that “significant change” was now required to remain affordable. 

He said the 5.5% offer “has a cost attached to it of £230m for a company today that is losing money” and that business needed to change.

“We need to change to compete in a competitive parcels business,” he added.

Royal Mail warned that it could post a loss in the UK for 2022-23 if the strike went ahead, according to Euronews.

Amazon strikes

Unofficial strikes are also continuing at Amazon, with the GMB union calling on the firm to deliver a £15 an hour minimum wage to its workers, reports the Guardian.

The ecommerce giant has offered workers a 35p an hour pay rise – equivalent to about 3%.

More than one hundred workers at the firm’s Swindon depot downed tools on Monday night and started a sit-in protest in the site’s canteen, which continued through to Wednesday (10 August) and is expected to last for the foreseeable future, according to the Swindon Advertiser.

Felixstowe strikes

Staff at Britain’s biggest container port in Felixstowe have also voted for strike action over pay.

The 1,900 workers are due to walk out for eight days from 21 August to 29 August at the Suffolk port which handles half of the UK’s container traffic.