Hopes have been raised that a mass Christmas strike by postal workers can be averted after Royal Mail's main union revealed it held lengthy talks with chief executive Moya Greene last week.
Communication Workers Union (CWU) deputy secretary Terry Pullinger said last night that during the five-hour "serious meeting" with Greene, Royal Mail indicated it was prepared to meet some of the union's demands.
The CWU, which represents 110,000 postal workers, says the Royal Mail boss has shied away from months of talks over a raft of changes the postal giant is planning to introduce. Changes include closing the firm's mammoth final salary pension scheme and altering working practices to better deal with gig economy rivals such as Amazon and Hermes.
Pullinger said the meeting "perhaps is something that should have happened far earlier in the negotiations".
"Now what became clear to me is Moya Greene told me that they want an agreement. They don't want a strike, they recognise that they are going to have to move on some of these issues and the proof will be in the pudding.
But I take Moya Greene at face value. If she is saying that there is definitely going to be a difference in these talks then that is a positive.
After 18 months of negotiations, the CWU balloted members on strike action in September. It then announced a 48-hour walkout scheduled to start at the end of last week. This was thwarted by Royal Mail winning a legal injunction to prevent the strikes until further mediated talks take place.
A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: “Royal Mail is very committed to working closely with the CWU in order to reach agreement on pay, pensions and other issues we have been discussing as a matter of priority. We want to use the mediation process under the dispute resolution procedures in the Agenda for Growth to do just that.
“Under its proposals, Royal Mail would continue to provide the best pay and terms and conditions in the industry by some distance. We are not proposing to change our core terms and conditions or our commitment to a predominantly permanent workforce.”
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