Thousands of postal workers launch strike in UK over pay dispute

Workers at Royal Mail Group join picket lines after being given a pay rise that falls far short of inflation.

A postal worker makes a delivery in London
A postal worker makes a delivery in London [File: Peter Nicholls/Reuters]

Thousands of postal workers in the United Kingdom have launched a series of strikes over pay, as the cost-of-living crisis prompts mass industrial action in numerous sectors.

In east London, postal workers stood outside a delivery office on Friday, waving flags and chanting: “What do we want? Decent pay!”

Workers at Royal Mail Group, who deliver parcels and letters across the nation in distinctive red vans with a crown logo, are joining picket lines across the UK in protest after being given a pay rise that falls far short of inflation.

Friday is the first of several planned days of strikes by 115,000 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents Royal Mail Group workers.

They also plan to strike on Wednesday, as well as on September 8 and 9.

Dave Ward, CWU’s general secretary, told the AFP news agency: “Our members are saying enough’s enough”.

“We want a substantial pay rise for our members. We want that to be reflecting the efforts that our members put in during the pandemic to keep the company going,” he said. “We want it also to protect us against inflation.”

‘Significant disruption’

Royal Mail Group said on its website that “customers should expect significant disruption” and it will not be delivering letters on days when strike action is taking place.

The union said a 97.6 percent majority had voted to strike after having an unagreed two percent pay deal imposed on them, while UK inflation is now in double digits.

“The pay dispute is not complicated,” the CWU said in a statement. “Our members need it, our members deserve it – the company can afford it.”

It cited the fact that the privatised Royal Mail Group announced £758m ($896m) in profits for last year.

Strike action in the UK is taking place in sectors with large numbers of unionised workers, including previously publicly owned structures such as Royal Mail and railways.

Source: News Agencies