As tension between multiple industries and workers continue across the country, Royal Mail and education staff are taking to the picket lines today.
Workers at Royal Mail as well as university lecturers and sixth-form college staff are staging what could be one of the biggest strikes of the year on the same day today. The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents Royal Mail workers, have staged the walkout due to a dispute over pay.
The ongoing dispute which has seen no offer accepted yet means that postal workers will stage seven more strikes in December, including Christmas Eve. The union boasted that its members will go to London on December 9 to take part in the "biggest strike demonstration this country has ever seen".
CWU general secretary Dave Ward 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. This can be resolved if Royal Mail begin treating their workers with respect and meet with the union to resolve this dispute.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The CWU is striking at our busiest time, holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country. We apologise to our customers and strongly urge them to post early for Christmas.
“We are proud to have the best pay and conditions in our industry. In an industry dominated by the ‘gig economy’, insecure work and low pay, our model sets us apart and we want to preserve it.
“Despite losing more than £1 million a day, we have made a best and final pay offer worth up to 9%. Strike action has already cost our people £1,000 each and is putting more jobs at risk.
“The money allocated to the pay deal should be going to our people, but it risks being eaten away by the costs of further strike action. We once again urge the CWU to call off strike action. We remain available to meet to discuss our best and final offer.”
Meanwhile, teacher members of the National Education Union (NEU) will also be on strike over pay disputes. Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Members take strike action with great reluctance, but the effects of real-terms pay losses are simply too urgent for them to endure the situation any longer.
“These cuts are driving an exodus from the profession whilst providing little incentive to those seeking a career in teaching. The overwhelming majority of teachers in sixth-form colleges will receive a 5% pay rise this year, which simply doesn’t deal with the effects of inflation.
“The Government is failing to act to protect the pay and living standards of our members, and it is in the gift of the Education Secretary to make that change. The message from members on this strike day is that she must do so urgently."
The University and College Union (UCU) is also following up a 48-hour strike last week with a 24-hour stoppage among university staff while holding a rally in London. UCU members at 150 universities will be taking part in the industrial action.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Last week university staff delivered historic strike action and this week they are doing it all over again. Vice chancellors are about to witness another huge show of strength. University staff are prepared to do whatever it takes to win decent pay, secure employment and fair pensions, and vice chancellors need to understand that they cannot simply ride this out.
"Students and staff are united like never before. At the national rally in London, the entire movement will show it is behind UCU’s campaign to save higher education. It is clear those who run our universities are becoming increasingly isolated.
“Our union is ready to deliver more industrial action next year, but avoiding that is entirely the responsibility of employers who have this week to make an improved offer. The ball is in their court.”
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