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Wales Online
Molly Dowrick

Royal Mail strikes: When you should post your Christmas cards to ensure they make it in time

Christmas is around the corner and many of us have started buying Christmas cards to send to loved ones near and far. Every year, Royal Mail advises people post their cards as early as they can, to ensure delivery amid a very busy season for post deliverers but this Christmas, strikes are also likely to impact the delivery of cards and gifts.

This year, Royal Mail says First Class post sent as late as December 21, 2022 should make it in time for Christmas Day (December 25), however, it's very likely the delivery of Christmas cards and letters will be impacted by strikes taking place on December 23 and 24.

With this in mind, people should consider posting their cards and gifts much earlier than the advertised "last day for postage" to ensure their Christmas post arrives in time for the Big Day.

Read more: Everywhere nurses will walk out on December 15 and 20 as strikes confirmed

When are Royal Mail workers on strike and when should I post my Christmas cards?

Officially, Royal Mail advises its "latest posting dates" are: December 16 (Royal Mail Bulk Mail Economy), December 19 (Second Class, Second Class Signed For and Royal Mail 48), December 21 (First Class, First Class, Signed For, Royal Mail 24, Royal Mail Tracked 48), December 22 (Special Delivery Guaranteed and Royal Mail Tracked 24) and December 23 (Special Delivery Guaranteed with Saturday Guarantee).

However, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has announced its members will walk out on December 1, 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24.

With this in mind, it's very likely letters and cards posted on or around December 21 (the deadline for first class post to be delivered in time for Christmas) will be delayed in delivery by strikes on December 23 and 24.

Therefore, if you're planning on posting a Christmas card, letter or parcel via First Class delivery (or the other postage services in the same group, see above) and you want it to arrive in time for Christmas, you should aim to post it by December 19, two days before the December 21 posting date . This allows extra time for potential delays caused by the strikes and any delays caused by extra post sent at Christmastime.

For Second Class post, Royal Mail has advised the last posting date is December 19. However, it's likely a lot of people will be sending their first class post on this date, due to the strikes on December 23 and 24. So, if you'd like to send your post by Second Class and want it to arrive before Christmas, you should post three days before the December 19 posting date. Posting your Second Class cards, letters and parcels by December 16 , would help your post avoid the potential build-up of First Class post around December 19 while still avoiding the strike days and allowing the "two to three working day" suggestion for Second Class post.

Of course, the strikes will also impact other postage services. Whilst the deadline for "Special Delivery Guaranteed with Saturday Guarantee" is December 23, the CWU has advised that day is a Strike Day - as is the following day, December 24. So it's currently extremely unlikely postage sent on December 23 - even if its sent under the Special Delivery Guaranteed with Saturday Guarantee service - will arrive in time for Christmas Day. So, if you're looking to send your items via this service, you should look to send your items by December 21 - two days before the December 23 posting date. This will allow the necessary time for the item to be checked, dispatched and delivered before the December 23 and 24 strikes.

Similarly, if you're planning on sending post via the Special Delivery Guaranteed and Royal Mail Tracked 24 services, you should send your items a t least two days before the December 22 postage date , to ensure the items arrive in time for Christmas amid the timely strikes.

If you're planning on sending letters, cards or parcels via Royal Mail Bulk Mail Economy, the last posting date is December 16. But strikes are planned for the two days before this - December 14 and 15 - so, on December 16, Royal Mail could still be working through the delivery of items sent via Royal Mail Bulk Mail Economy just before the strike days. Therefore, to ensure your items make it in time, the latest you should consider posting should be December 12 or 13 , as these dates are in-between the strike days.

Why are workers going on strike?

Royal Mail is updating customers with news of its staff members' strikes via its website. The company, which has more than 150,000 employees nationally, has "well-developed contingency plans" but "cannot fully replace" the daily work of the workforce when employees go on strike, it says.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) arranged walk-outs at post offices and depots across the UK earlier this month and has planned seven more strikes for December, including on Christmas even. Among the strike days, the Union says its members will be in London on December 9 for the "biggest strike demonstration this country has ever seen".

Explaining why postal workers are going on strike, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said previously: "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 spokesperson for Royal Mail 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."


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