Royal Mail Christmas strikes begin and letters pile up as 115,000 workers walk out in row over pay

9 December 2022, 07:52 | Updated: 9 December 2022, 08:42

A huge pile of Christmas post at a sorting office
A huge pile of Christmas post at a sorting office. Picture: CWU

By Asher McShane

Over 100,000 Royal Mail workers go on strike today in the run-up to Christmas in a bitter ongoing row over pay and conditions.

A total of 115,000 workers will walk out, affecting deliveries across the UK.

Millions of letters have been piling up even prior to the action after a breakdown in negotiations.

The CWU union is striking on December 9, 11, 14, 15, 23, and 24 December.

Customers are being told to post their letters earlier than usual due to the strikes.

Thousands of workers will stage a rally today to mark the latest strikes.

Read More: Travellers urged to rethink travel plans with '30% of flights set to be axed' amid Christmas strikes

Read More: 'Give the nurses what they want!': Pensioner describes hospital epiphany that turned him left-wing

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) will gather outside Parliament in central London, with little sign the long running row will be resolved soon.

The union said at least 15,000 will attend the rally, describing it as the biggest postal workers' demonstration in living memory.

CWU General Secretary Dave Ward will also join one of the many picket lines which will be mounted outside Royal Mail offices across the country.

Strikes are also planned on Sunday and next Wednesday and Thursday.

The union says its members are facing ‘massive real-terms pay cuts’ and that management wanted to ‘force through thousands of compulsory redundancies’.

Dave Ward, CWU general secretary, said: "Royal Mail bosses are risking a Christmas meltdown because of their stubborn refusal to treat their employees with respect.

"Postal workers want to get on with serving the communities they belong to, delivering Christmas gifts and tackling the backlog from recent weeks.

"But they know their value, and they will not meekly accept the casualisation of their jobs, the destruction of their conditions and the impoverishment of their families."

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: "We spent three more days at Acas this week to discuss what needs to happen for the strikes to be lifted.

"In the end, all we received was another request for more pay, without the changes needed to fund the pay offer.

"The CWU know full well that in a business losing more than £1 million a day, we need to agree changes to the way we work so that we can fund the pay offer of up to 9% we have already made.

"While the CWU refuses to accept the need for change, it's our customers and our people who suffer. Strike action has already cost our people £1,200 each.

"The money allocated to the pay deal risks being eaten away by the costs of further strike action.

"The CWU is striking at our busiest time, deliberately holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country.

"We are doing everything we can to deliver Christmas for our customers and settle this dispute. During the last strike days, we delivered more than 700,000 parcels, and more than 11,000 delivery and processing staff returned to work.

"We recovered our service quickly, but the task becomes more challenging as Christmas nears.

"We remain willing to talk at any time about our best and final offer and urge the CWU to call off their damaging strike action."