The bitter dispute between Royal Mail workers and bosses over pay and conditions is unlikely to be resolved before Christmas, a union boss has said.
Andy Furey, acting deputy general secretary of Communication Workers Union (CWU), which has been representing the thousands of posties going on strike in the last four months, said there are plans to ballot members well into the new year for more industrial action.
He said CWU’s recent offer to Royal Mail this week was “thrown back in our face” and there are “no further talks planned at this stage”.
His comments came as hundreds of CWU members and several MSPs descended on Holyrood on Thursday to demand Nicola Sturgeon supports their ongoing fight for a new deal.
They joined more than 100,000 posties who are out on strike across the UK on Thursday in the 16th day of industrial action by Royal Mail workers since August.
Speaking at the event, Mr Furey said: “Unfortunately I don’t believe there will be a resolution before Christmas.
My message to Royal Mail is to come to the negotiating table and thrash out a reasonable and fair deal for our members— Andy Furey, CWU
“But it’s not just a dispute around Christmas. We will be disputing into the new year, unless Royal Mail sees sense.
“My message to Royal Mail is to come to the negotiating table and thrash out a reasonable and fair deal for our members.”
Cheers of “sack the board” and “victory to CWU” were chanted among the crowd in icy conditions in Edinburgh as individuals stood in solidarity waving flags and holding placards.
Mr Furey said the union wants to ensure the universal service obligation is protected, which recognises Royal Mail as the designated provider of the universal postal service in the UK six days a week, with one price for anywhere and to 30 million UK addresses.
“We are also protesting the attacks on jobs,” he said.
“Royal Mail want to make many of our members compulsory redundant.
“They want to make at least 10,000 job losses, we reckon it’s probably double that, and we are after a better pay deal.”
CWU general secretary Dave Ward wrote to Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon earlier this week demanding support from MSPs and for an inquiry to be held into the postal company’s management.
Labour MSP Carol Mochan was one of the speakers at the demonstration on Thursday.
Addressing the crowd in front of the Scottish Parliament building, she said: “I want to see every MSP out here listening to you, listening to the demands that we need to make to this really unfair company.
“This company is supported by the Tories down south and the right-wing media, and we need to keep fighting.”
Speaking to the posties in the crowd about their work during the pandemic, Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman said: “You were the key workers holding our communities together… it is thanks to you that we stayed connected and we should repay that work you did with gratitude.”
Trudi Thomson, who has been working as a postie for 20 years, was one of the attendees at the demonstration.
The 63-year-old, who works at the Dunfermline office, told the PA news agency: “We want better terms and conditions and a proper pay offer.
“Customers rely on us. If our hours are changed and these customers aren’t receiving their mail when they expect us, it’s no good.”
She spoke about the importance of the postie’s role in communities, adding: “I work round the farms, villages that don’t have a shop, so they look forward to you coming.
“We sometimes take their mail they need to be sent, and they give me eggs from their farms, I have biscuits in my pocket for the dogs who know me, people know us.”
Standing next to her in the crowd was Norma Crawford, 55, who also works at the Dunfermline office.
She said: “Royal Mail are trying to make it so much harder for us.
“One of the conditions is there won’t be a set finishing time, you work until you finish, and you won’t get paid for it.
“It’s stressful. The work-life balance won’t be there.”
Royal Mail said it made a “best and final pay offer”, worth up to 9% over 18 months, about three weeks ago.
The company said it is “doing everything we can to deliver Christmas for our customers”, and thanked an “increasing number of posties returning to work each strike day, temporary workers and managers from across the business who are helping to keep the mail moving”.