Royal mail strike today – live: Postal workers begin mass walkout ahead of London rally

Rishi Sunak says government’s pay offers ‘reasonable’ despite strikes

Thousands of Royal Mail workers have walked out today in the first of a series of strikes in the run-up to Christmas in a bitter dispute over pay and working conditions.

According to the Communication Workers Union (CWU), around 15,000 Royal Mail workers will attend a rally held at Parliament Square from 1pm, in what they have called the biggest postal worker demonstration in living memory.

CWU claims Royal Mail imposed a 2 per cent pay increase on members without consultation, with general secretary Dave Ward saying that the organisation is “refusing” to treat employees with respect.

“Postal workers want to get on with serving the communities they belong to, delivering Christmas gifts and tackling the backlog from recent weeks,” said Mr Ward.

“But they know their value, and they will not meekly accept the casualisation of their jobs, the destruction of their conditions and the impoverishment of their families.”

Members of the CWU are planning more strikes in December, including on Christmas Eve. The next will take place on Sunday 11 December. The public has been advised to plan ahead when sending packages for Christmas.

It comes amid a winter of strike action in the UK, including walkouts planned by nurses, ambulance staff, rail workers and Border Force officers.

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Royal Mail says you should post earlier than usual this Christmas

Royal Mail previously asked customers to post their mail earlier than usual for Christmas this year as a result of the ongoing strike action by its workers.

The company brought forward its recommended posting dates for domestic and international mail to help manage any impact from planned strike action by members of the Communication Workers Union on December 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24.

The changes are designed to help the company keep mail moving in the run up to Christmas when mail volumes are higher.

Final suggested dates for sending second-class post were brought forward from December 19 to 12 and for first class from December 21 to 16.

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 12:50

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The one of type of post Royal Mail will be delivering during the strikes

The Post Office has said it is not involved in the dispute between CWU and Royal Mail that will result in multiple strikes across December.

However, it stressed that while branches will remain open, there will be disruption to letters and parcel collections on the dates of industrial action.

Around 1,500 CWU Post Office members took action in August and similar numbers are likely to walk out again next time in a dispute that’s separate from the Royal Mail one.

Staff who deliver cash and supplies to sub-post offices, process finances and work in administration have backed industrial action for more pay.

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 12:30

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UK strikes timeline: How December’s industrial action will affect you

There is only one day this month – by The Independent’s count – for which there is no major protest demonstration currently scheduled, Saturday 10 December, and that could well change.

Royal Mail says it has “well-developed contingency plans” in place but “cannot fully replace the daily efforts of our frontline workforce,” assuring customers it would be “doing what we can to keep services running” while warning that the strikes are “likely to cause you some disruption”.

Here is a timeline of all of the strike dates announced so far for December 2022 and early January 2023.

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 12:10

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Railway companies responsible for overcrowding on trains during strikes, says Downing Street

It is up to railway companies and not the Government to prevent overcrowding on trains on strike days over Christmas, Downing Street has suggested.

A No 10 spokesman told reporters: “I will have to point you to Network Rail, who will obviously work with the train operating companies on the timetables over the Christmas period.

“But the more fundamental point I think the Prime Minister has made on a number of occasions is that we want unions to call off the strikes given we know the level of disruption they’re going to cause, not just for people but for also businesses.”

The official added: “DfT (Department for Transport) will obviously work closely with Network Rail, but it’s for them to devise the timetable.

“We acknowledge there will be disruption to people’s travel plans over the Christmas period. We would urge people to be aware through Network Rail and the other operating companies who are setting out what the timetables will be, what people can expect.”

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 12:00

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Many troops to be drafted in to fill jobs of striking workers over Christmas, says Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has confirmed that many military personnel are to be drafted in to prevent disruption during industrial action over Christmas, in a move which has been condemned by union bosses as “strike-breaking”.

In an indication that ministers are losing hope of averting a wave of stoppages over the festive season, Mr Sunak said he would not give in to union demands on pay and was focusing on minimising disruption to day-to-day life.

The prime minister was speaking as the Ministry of Defence confirmed that troops have been training at Heathrow and Gatwick since the start of this week in preparation to man passport booths when Border Force officials walk out.

Political Editor Andrew Woodcock has more:

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 11:50

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Rishi Sunak confirms military to be used to minimise disruption from strikes

The military will be used to minimise disruption from strikes, Rishi Sunak has confirmed.

Mr Sunak today visited the RAF Coningsby base in Lincolnshire to thank personnel for their service in the coming weeks.

He said that the government had acted “fairly and reasonably” in accepting the recommendations of independent pay review bodies on public sector salary increases this year.

Rishi Sunak confirms military to be used to minimise disruption from strikes

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 11:45

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Train strikes: Every date in December and January 2023

Rail passengers face severe travel disruption over Christmas and the New Year as workers stage a series of 48-hour strikes in December and January in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

The RMT union has revealed that more than 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies will stage a series of 48-hour walk-outs.

Industrial action will take place on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and on 3, 4, 6 and 7 January.

On Monday it announced further strike dates to take place over the key Christmas period, with members walking out from 6pm on 24 December until 7am on 27 December. Most trains do not run on 25 and 26 December anyway, but those aiming to travel by rail to see loved ones either side of Christmas Day will be affected.

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 11:30

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“If you care about your postie, you’ll support the Royal Mail strike”, says Dave Ward

“We won’t stand back and watch the Uberisation of our postal service”, says Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union.

“For three months now, 115,000 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) – the union I am proud to lead – have been on strike, having voted by nearly 100 per cent in two separate ballots this summer to take action.”

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 11:10

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Nurses, trains and Royal Mail: Every strike planned in run up to Christmas

As inflation has climbed steadily throughout year, workers have seen rising prices eroding their earnings – just as employers have been trying to make savings or modernise working practices to cope with increasing costs.

The result? Clashes over pay, redundancies, pensions and terms and conditions.

A new “winter of discontent” had begun even before Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement on 17 November, which left householders everywhere feeling even worse off.

These are the professions and industries for which strike dates have already been announced.

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 10:50

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Rishi Sunak declines to provide details of ‘tough’ new anti-strike laws

Rishi Sunak has declined to provide details of “tough” new anti-strike laws being considered, stressing that he wants to “protect lives and to minimise the disruption” caused by industrial action.

Speaking during a visit to an RAF base in Lincolnshire, the Prime Minister said: “We’re looking at everything right now at pace but my priority is going to be to protect lives and to minimise the disruption on people’s lives.

“So the Government is trying its best to act reasonably, that’s why we’ve accepted in full the recommendations of independent bodies who make recommendations to the Government about pay settlements in the public sector, and often those pay settlements have been higher than what many people in the private sector are receiving, but the Government accepted them in full to be reasonable, to be fair.

“But it’s right now that we also look to minimise the disruption on people’s lives and that’s why we’re looking at tough new laws.”

Eleanor Noyce9 December 2022 10:47