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The main union of Royal Mail anticipatd to “nail down” a final deal on pay and pensions this week, concluding a bitter and protracted industrial dispute.
Victory was claimed by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), saying that the threat of strike action during the Christmas period prompted the top brass of Royal Mail to take the union more seriously.
Discussions have made steady progress since October, something that has not been noticed by the City. The shares of Royal Mail have increased by a quarter since a nadir in November, adding £1bn to the stock market valuation of the postal giant.
Earlier this week, Terry Pullinger, the deputy general secretary of the CWU, informed reproters: “Philosophically we are in the right place… Once you get into the drafting, it is such a complex thing.
“We’re really trying to get it [a final agreement] nailed down next week.”
A year ago, Royal Mail revealed plans to end its pension scheme amid fears that it would cost more than £1bn per year to keep the firm open. This, including changes to pay, working conditions and hours caused an industrial scrap, weighing on the share price of Royal Mail so heavily that the company lost its prized place in the FTSE 100.
Last October, the CWU balloted its 110,000 members with nearly 9 out of 10 of voting in favour of a strike action. An organised 48-hour walkout was successfully stopped by a High Court ruling mandating that both sides should return to the negotiating table in order to hold mediated talks.
Pullinger stated: “I think we had really lost our way from an industrial relations point of view.
“The conversation did not change until we got a massive ‘yes’ vote and gave notice. And although they took us to court and forced into mediation… the conversation had to change.
“There is no doubt about it, doing it that process, the proper negotiations started for the first time. The whole process of the ballot was to get a proper negotiation and get into the room – so the objective is done.”
Pullinger continued: “To me, that is the absolute way to do business.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson stated: “Royal Mail and the CWU have continued to make progress in talks on pay, pensions and the other issues under discussion. These talks are ongoing as both parties seek to finalise an agreement.”