Details of progress in highly secretive talks aimed at averting a mass Christmas walk-out by postal workers are to be revealed tomorrow.
Negotiations have been taking place between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) since the end of October, as both sides hope to thrash out a deal on proposed changes to pensions and working conditions.
And for the first time in almost five weeks, union members involved with the talks will report back to its postal executive to update them on progress tomorrow afternoon. The CWU will then deliver an online update to its 110,000 workers.
The CWU had planned a 48-hour walkout in mid-October only to be thwarted by High Court ruling in Royal Mail's favour that said arbitrated talks must first take place for strike action to be legal.
Royal Mail chief executive Moya Greene is leading the talks after previously been criticised by the CWU for a lack of engagement with the union.
Those involved in the talks have committed to non-disclosure terms while they continue, meaning many in the higher echelons of both sides do not know whether progress has been made.
Royal Mail shares have rallied by over 14 per cent after hitting an all-time low at the start of November. City analysts have previously stressed the threat of industrial action – something that could open the door to Royal Mail's delivery rivals – is the biggest weight on its stock market valuation.
At the centre of the talks is a decision by Royal Mail to close its mammoth pension scheme and alter key working practices.
Royal Mail says the pension scheme closure could lead to annual costs spiking to over £1bn. And with its largest division, letters, in seemingly terminal decline it wants to better challenge in the parcel sector. To do so, it needs to change certain practices – for example, rejigging working hours – to compete with next-day delivery rivals such as Amazon and Hermes.