A proposed deal has been agreed between the Royal Mail and union leaders averting the risk of a Christmas strike.
The newly privatised postal operator, which was forced to extend talks with the union three times, said: “Following the conclusion of talks, Royal Mail has reached a negotiators agreement in principle with the Communication Workers Union on pay, legal protections, industrial stability and pensions.”
The proposed agreement still has to be considered by the CWU’s executive before being balloted on by its membership, but a spokesman for the union said it would be “very unusual” for its executive to reject a deal at this stage.
Union members had called for a better pay deal, after rejecting an 8.6 per cent pay increase over three years, as well as a lump sum payment of £300, in July.
But Royal Mail had made clear it would go to great lengths to avoid a damaging strike over Christmas, and the 500-year-old postal operator today said: “The CWU has confirmed that there will be no disruption through industrial action during the ratification process of the proposed agreement, including the whole of the Christmas trading period.”
It comes after chief executive Moya Greene last week told the Standard that the potential industrial action was putting new customers off from signing deals.
She said: “The threat of a strike in any business is a very big concern, and in our business it’s horrible — we are the distribution arm for much of online retail in the UK.”
Greene added: “Parcel customers have lots of options, and online retailers desperately need a reliable service in the lead-up to Christmas. Even the threat of a strike is going to cause some people to look to other options.”
In the latest agreement Royal Mail is believed to have improved that 8.6 per cent pay deal as well as making further concessions on working conditions and pensions. Staff also received around 100 million free shares in Royal Mail, worth £4263 at today’s price, as part of its privatisation.
The outbreak of peace between the two warring sides sent shares in Royal Mail up 8.1p or 1.4 per cent to 588.1p.