Strikes see Royal Mail change deadlines for Christmas card deliveries
Posties’ industrial action has forced Royal Mail to change its last posting dates for people sending Christmas cards and gifts.
In what is unwelcome news for the greeting card industry, the last date for second class post has come forward by a week to Monday, 12 December, and first class Christmas post has been cut by five days to Friday, 16 December.
Royal Mail’s chief commercial officer Nick Landon said the Communication Workers’ Union is “holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country”.
In the statement released on Friday, 2 December, he added: “We apologise to our customers for any disruption and delay that the CWU strike action is causing. We ask our customers to post early for Christmas to help us deliver Christmas.”
GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson told PG Buzz: “I’ve asked Royal Mail to look at positive messaging that reassures consumers their cards will be delivered, and the opportunity to remind consumers of the joy of receiving a card. In the meantime we’re getting the post now’ message out on social media.”
Royal Mail said it is bringing forward its last recommended posting dates for domestic and international mail “to help manage any impact from planned strike action by the CWU during the festive season” – the union has further industrial action planned for 9, 11, 14, 15, 23, and 24 December – and the company added that it continues to deploy a range of contingency plans to keep communities, businesses and the country connected throughout the CWU’s ongoing industrial action.
The date changes are designed to help keep mail moving in the run-up to the festive period when mail volumes are higher, however, the proximity to Christmas means many will miss the last recommended dates for international mail arriving before 25 December, with Austria, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland now due tomorrow, Wednesday, 7 December, and Belgium, France and Luxembourg by Friday. All other international posting deadlines have now passed.
The move followed the union’s warning a couple of days beforehand of a “Christmas meltdown” over letters and deliveries as it claimed management was refusing to enter negotiations to avert the seasonal strikes – and the CWU said it was “sounding the alarm” over the huge numbers of parcels and deliveries stacking up at Royal Mail sites across the country.
Seven months of talks, including the final four weeks using the conciliation service ACAS, ended on 22 November after the CWU turned down Royal Mail’s revised “best and final offer” which the company said had extensive improvements with an enhanced 9% pay rise over 18 months for staff, a commitment to making Sunday working voluntary, and there would make no compulsory redundancies before March next year.
The company said further deterioration in its financial position caused by industrial action will “rapidly make the pay offer unaffordable and it may need to be withdrawn”, as the ongoing strikes had already cost the firm more than £100million, adding to Royal Mail’s losses so far this year,
However, with 115,000 employees backing the CWU, the union wants an improved 18-month pay deal including all workers, a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, a review of the relationship between the union and the company, and “an alternative business strategy that would see Royal Mail Group use its competitive advantage to grow as a company, instead of becoming a gig economy parcel employer”.
The UK’s GCA is continuing to keep the dialogue going with Royal Mail in a determined effort that the greeting card industry’s concerns are taken on board. There is a regularly updated blog post on the GCA website about the Royal Mail situation. Click here to read it.
Top: Posting early should ensure festive mail arrives on time