LONDON, Aug 26 – More than 115,000 workers at Britain’s Royal Mail (RMG.L) began the first of four days of a strike on Friday in a pay dispute which the postal group said was likely to cause a major disruption for customers.
It is the latest in a series of labour stoppages to hit Britain as workers demand higher wages in the face of a cost-of-living crisis, and inflation projected to exceed 13% later this year.
“We are going to fight very hard here to get the pay rise our members deserve,” Communication Workers Union General Secretary Dave Ward told Sky News.
Royal Mail says it has offered a 5.5% pay rise for CWU-grade workers, its biggest increase in several years.
The union, which said the strike was the biggest industrial action taken by workers this summer, disputes this and says the company has imposed only a 2% pay increase for workers, and offered a further 1.5% subject to changes to terms and conditions.
The centuries-old British postal and delivery service apologised to its customers for the disruption and said it had put in place contingency plans, but could not entirely replace the daily duties of its frontline staff.
Royal Mail Chief Executive Simon Thompson said the business needed to change its working practices to reflect the fact that it now delivers more parcels than letters and the parcels delivery market is very competitive.
“Royal Mail is a company that our society wants to exist… but we need this change so we can turn into a parcels business so we can compete and flourish,” Thompson told British radio broadcaster LBC.