October 5, 2017
Burnham-On-Sea postal workers vote for pre-Christmas strike

Burnham-On-Sea postal workers have this week voted to join a nationwide strike in the run-up to Christmas that could affect festive deliveries of mail.

The planned nationwide industrial action has been sparked by a bitter pay and pensions dispute - the first since Royal Mail was privatised four years ago.

The first two-day strike is set to take place on Thursday 19th October with further action being planned.

Mark Penfold, Burnham-On-Sea's representative for the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said there is unanimous support for the action.

He told "No-one wants to see a strike in Burnham or elsewhere, we want senior management to sit down for talks."

"Since Royal Mail was privatised in 2013, the business has been run to keep shareholders and hedge funds happy by maximizing profit margins wherever possible."

"They want to move many staff, including many here in Burnham onto a basic pension scheme, which would see some postal workers losing £7,000 a year. That's unaccetable and senior management are not listening."

"They are also pushing for later delivery times in the day, expecting some staff to go out again after spending six or seven hours walking on their feet delivering mail. On top of that they are proposing to remove sick pay after eight weeks altogether which for those on long-term illness would be devastating."

He added: "Here in Burnham-On-Sea, there has been been almost unanimous backing for action - a petition was signed by all staff earlier in the year calling for talks to show we're serious. Many of the Royal Mail managers here in Burnham also signed it as we're all in the same boat."

"Hopefully the senior management will sit down and discuss the issues to avoid a strike - no-one wants a strike if it can be avoided."

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says the concerns are Royal Mail's "attack on the pension rights of hard-working postmen and women" as well as its "refusal" to engage over pay, working hours, future job security and the need to improve and grow the service.

The first two-day strike is set to take place on Thursday 19th October.

Royal Mail says: "There are no grounds for industrial action. We want to reach an agreement."

It believes the dispute is subject to legally binding contractual resolution procedures which are likely to last until Christmas and maybe beyond.

"These dispute resolution procedures must be followed. The union cannot take industrial action until they have been completed," Royal Mail said.

The CWU said this week that 73.7% of its 110,000 members voted in its strike ballot this week nationally, with 89% backing a strike. The union said its postal executive will meet later this week to work out the potential strike dates.

The row has been building since Royal Mail announced it will close its current defined benefit pension scheme in March 2018. The company claimed that if it did not, its current annual contribution of £400m a year would eventually rise to £1.26bn.

Royal Mail has subsequently offered workers new defined contribution-based schemes with the aim of keeping its contributions at about £400m. All have been rejected.


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