Belfast Telegraph

Union slams Royal Mail strike offer

The Royal Mail has been accused of "desperation" after offering postal workers £300 if they do not go on strike over the controversial privatisation of the company.

Chief executive Moya Greene has written to employees urging them to vote no in a ballot of Communication Workers Union (CWU) members.

"Any strike action, or the threat of it, is likely to be damaging to our business. We all benefit from a successful Royal Mail. Our customers depend on us. That is especially the case in the run-up to Christmas.

"We lost business to competitors following strike action in 2007 and 2009. Any loss of business has a direct impact on your job security. I ask you to think very carefully about what the point of a strike would be. Is it really the way to reach agreement?"

Ms Greene said workers had been offered a "highly competitive" pay deal of 8.6% over three years, including a £300 lump sum in year one.

"We offered a lump sum of £300 (pro-rata for part timers), payable in December 2013, as long as there is no industrial action.

"Many of you have said to me that it is unfair that people should lose this money if others in their office go on strike and they work normally. I agree. So, we would make this payment provided you have not taken action yourself."

Dave Ward, deputy general secretary of the CWU, said: "This is an act of desperation and discrimination.

"Postal workers won't be fooled and will vote to fight to protect their terms and conditions against the impact of privatisation."

The ballot closes later this month.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has written to the Government to demand answers on warnings that customers, taxpayers and businesses may be "significantly short-changed" from the sell-off.

In a letter to Business Secretary Vince Cable, he said: "The Labour Party has stood alongside a broad coalition of groups opposed to your plans for the privatisation of Royal Mail.

"However, you are proceeding despite the issues raised by them and the very real concern that customers and businesses will lose out.

"Now that you have determined to proceed and shares in the Royal Mail will be traded from 11 October, you and the Government are obliged to secure the best return for taxpayers from the IPO (initial public offering).

"It is not at all clear from the information provided in the IPO prospectus that this is the case.

"An unusually short timetable has been set for the IPO process itself, with the prospectus being published late last week without adequate time for scrutiny being possible in the House."