CWU members will refuse to handle mail from private companies if the boycott goes ahead

Tim Lezard

Royal MailCWU members have this morning voted unanimously in favour of the threat of a mail boycott if postal regulator Ofcom fails to protect the UK’s mail service.

The boycott means Royal Mail workers would refuse to handle mail from private companies, such as TNT and UK Mail. The move is likely to affect the delivery of utility bills, magazines and bank statements.

Hundreds of reps at a policy forum in Liverpool voted to agree a policy to boycott private mail companies’ post which is sent to Royal Mail for the ‘final mile’ delivery. This represents almost half of all letters (44%) delivered in the UK.

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “This vote demonstrates the rising concerns among our members regarding changes to the postal service affecting jobs, services and performance standards.

“Competition in the postal sector is not benefitting the public – prices are going up and the regulator is actively consulting on reducing services from six days a week to five or perhaps even less. Small businesses which are such an important part of the economy rely on the universal service. Only big businesses with bulk mail contracts benefit from competition, yet we rarely see any evidence of them passing those price benefits onto their customers rather than just improving their own profits.

“Competition is being allowed on the basis of low-pay and unreliable job security in private companies. That will be a disaster for the sector if it continues. We will take this action to protect jobs and services if the regulator doesn’t fulfil its duty.”

The motion supported by reps reads:  “The CWU calls upon the Regulator to immediately act in line with its statutory duty and intervene to protect the Universal Service.”

The motion singles out the issue of “cherry picking the profitable parts of the delivery network” and calls for private firms to meet “the same quality of service and performance standards as Royal Mail.”

The motion also warns of a “race to the bottom on the pay and conditions of postal workers” and calls for minimum industry standards for postal workers, underpinned by the Living Wage as a minimum for pay.

Further details on the boycott of private-companies’ mail will be published in time for the CWU‘s annual conference in April. If measures are not taken by postal regulator Ofcom, postal workers could refuse to handle third-party mail – which makes up almost half of all letters delivered by Royal Mail – in the next few months.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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