Stubborn Post Office chiefs provoked 28th September strike call

Post Office (PO)

Refusal to settle pay, refusal to extend ballot mandate and ‘ridiculous’ law left union with no option, explains Andy Furey…

The announcement that there will be a nationwide Post Office strike on Wednesday 28th September had not been something the union had wanted to do, Andy told CWU News.

“We were in negotiations – held under the auspices of independent arbitration service ACAS – and we felt there was scope for real progress. But sadly, Post Office CEO Nick Read and his team refused to make an increased pay offer.

“When we asked them to extend our legal mandate to strike, they refused this request as well. We were, therefore, left with no alternative but to formally ask our industrial executive to sanction another day of strike action on the last day before our six-month legal mandate expires.”

Under current law, a successful strike ballot is actionable for a period of up to six months and, in this instance, the national strike ballot of CWU Post Office members having declared on 28th March, its legal mandate expires after 28th September. The six-month mandate can be extended by mutual agreement however, and it is common, when negotiations are in process and when an ‘expiry date’ is looming, for such a ‘mandate extension’ to be agreed between the parties. This sustains the bargaining position of the union, while enabling negotiations to proceed without further strikes taking place.

“It’s really a ridiculous aspect of the law,” Andy continued. “But it is the law and it’s a great pity Post Office leadership refused to agree to this in the circumstances. It’s clear to us, from that attitude, that Mr Read and his senior team have no interest in settling this pay dispute.

“It had not been our intention to call further strikes, but the attitude of the employer, in the context of our need to comply with statutory legislation, left us with no choice.

“We are confident that next week’s strike – the sixth strike of CWU Post Office members – will be as solidly supported as each of the previous actions. And unless there is a serious pay offer, with increased money on offer, then not only will this action go ahead, but we will also begin the process of undertaking a second national strike ballot.”

As a consequence of the action taken so far, Post Office have increased the pay offer for 2022/23 from an initial 2.0 per cent with a £250 cash lump sum to 5 per cent with a £500 cash lump sum. But this is still some considerable way behind current inflation levels, and it does not provide for any back pay for 2021/22.

“While the movement on pay achieved by our members’ five solid strike is a step in the right direction – our members are suffering from the extreme cost of living with RPI inflation of 12.3 per cent,” Andy points out. “And as well as the need to significantly improve on that offer, the Post Office must pay up for 2021/22 as well. That would properly recognise the exceptional efforts of our members during the pandemic, when they carried on providing essential services to the country throughout that extremely difficult period.

“Our members have been and continue to be magnificent – and they deserve a fair pay deal. So pay up Post Office – or face more strikes.”