As people around the UK show their appreciation for posties on National Postal Workers Day, Royal Mail has seen fit to announce plans to reduce the universal service obligation temporarily from six to five day delivery.
The official argument for it is due to Covid-19, but UNI Global Union affiliate, the Communication Workers Union (CWU), suspects it is part of a long-term strategy to introduce a permanent reduction of services.
If Royal Mail would be honest in its reaction to the pandemic, a reduction of the service would have been reasonable six weeks ago, when absences due to sick leave peaked at 25 per cent and not now this figure has come down to 12 per cent. The decision to reduce daily deliveries will have a huge impact on the 20,000 jobs in Royal Mail.
“While some people write off the industry, there is no doubt that there is an important future for Royal Mail and its greatest asset, the nation’s army of postal workers,” says Dave Ward, General Secretary of CWU in the UK.
Postal workers along with other key workers have been on the frontline of the coronavirus war – walking, delivering, sorting and driving – all in harm’s way of an invisible enemy, to deliver what everyone now recognizes as a vital service.
“Our commitment to you as a trade union is not just to say ‘Thank you’ for everything you do, but also to say, that we will stand as strong as possible to ensure that we not only protect your job, your job security, your standards of living and your retirement security, but we will adamantly stand up and fight for this great public service,” says Terry Pullinger, DGSP of CWU in the UK.
The push for reducing postal services is not new. In 2018, the European Commission announced its plans to review the universal service obligation. Many governments are planning a reduction due to the drop in letter volume. International postal unions representing more than 2.5 million postal workers globally will fight against any reduction of postal services. These services are vital to guarantee communication at affordable prices to the whole population, to support SMEs in making online businesses, and are the basis of democracy and social inclusion in this world.
“This crisis is a global threat and an opportunity for postal services,’ says Cornelia Berger, Head of UNI Post&Logistics, “On the one hand, postal services are declared as an essential service in the pandemic and our workers are providing many additional services to the population such as delivering of medicine or face masks. On the other hand, postal operators want to use this pandemic as an excuse to reduce the universal service obligation, which will destroy postal services in the future.”
“UNI is supporting affiliates globally in their fight to maintain the USO in post, and we take today to honour UK postal workers and to stand with them in demanding safe workplace and job security,” says UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman.
UNI Global Union will support the CWU-UK in all their decisions and in their fight for strong postal services in the UK.