Royal Mail December strikes: Latest wave of walkouts begins as union accused of ‘holding Christmas to ransom’

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Royal Mail has accused union members of “holding Christmas to ransom” with their latest wave of December strikes over pay and conditions - here’s how post will be affected on strike days

The last Christmas posting date has been brought forward as the latest wave of Royal Mail strikes begins. Posties are set to walkout from centres across the UK today (Wednesday, December 14) and Thursday (December 15), with a dispute over pay and conditions continuing.

The last first class posting date for Christmas has now been brought forward to Friday (December 16). Any items posted on the days before, during or after strike days are likely to be subject to delays as Christmas cards and gifts pile up.

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It comes after photos taken 17 hours apart show the same heaps of post left outside a major Royal Mail centre. Scenes of undelivered post were pictured at a mail centre in Bristol on Monday and Tuesday as posties prepared for Wednesday’s walkout.

The Royal Mail insists such scenarios are “typical for this time of year”, but the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have said the mounting piles of post are actually “highly unusual” and “chaotic”. A spokesman for the union said: "Millions of letters and packages are backlogged across the UK as the Christmas mail mounts up.

“The CWU and postal workers want to save Christmas but Royal Mail must step back from their all out assault on our members’ jobs, terms and the service they provide. Simon Thompson (the Royal Mail’s CEO) risks ruining Christmas for millions of people - the ball is in his court.”

When are Royal Mail workers striking in December?

Here’s the full list of when Royal Mail workers have or planned to strike in December:

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  • Thursday, December 1
  • Friday, December 9
  • Sunday, December 11
  • Wednesday, December 14
  • Thursday, December 15
  • Friday, December 23
  • Saturday, December 24

How is post affected on Royal Mail strike days?

Royal Mail said it had “well-developed contingency plans” in place for strike action, but has also acknowledged that these “cannot replace the daily efforts of its frontline workforce”. It means significant disruption on strike dates.

The Royal Mail will not be delivering any letters or parcels on strike days, with the exception of those sent by special delivery. Any item posted in post boxes or via post offices the day before, during or following strike dates are likely to be subject to delays.

Royal Mail has promised to “prioritise the delivery of Covid test kits and medical prescriptions wherever possible”, as well as other Tracked 24 parcels. Most post offices are expected to be open on strike days, although a few will be affected by the industrial action.

Why are Royal Mail workers striking?

This week, Royal Mail said it had made its “best and final offer” aimed at resolving the dispute. The company said this included “extensive improvements” that had been made during the negotiations with the CWU, including an enhanced pay deal of up to 9 per cent over 18 months.

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The CWU have rejected this pay offer as it claims the Royal Mail wants to cut jobs as part of the pact. The Royal Mail is currently losing over £1m per day, and says the potential pay offer is being eaten away by the costs of CWU strikes.

A spokesman for the firm said: “We are doing all we can to deliver Christmas for our customers and minimise the impact of damaging industrial action. 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.

“The pictures show busy mail centres with thousands of parcels moving through our network and this is typical for this time of the year. The sites shown are processing 30,000 parcels an hour so volume moves very quickly through the centres and on to the next stage in their journey.”

When are the last recommended posting date for Christmas?

The last recommended posting dates ahead of Christmas are as follows:

  • Royal Mail 1st class and 1st class signed for – Friday, December 16
  • Royal Mail special delivery guaranteed – Wednesday, December 21
  • Parcelforce Worldwide express 48 and express 48 large – Wednesday, December 21
  • Parcelforce Worldwide express 24 – Thursday, December 22

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