Royal Mail union boss has accused the delivery giant of turning its service into “another part of the gig economy,” as a mass walkout of posties continues today.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Communication Workers Union (CWU) General Secretary Dave Ward called out Royal Mail for engaging in “secret talks” with a US private equity firm in order to “abandon its universal service”, with the view to turn the company into a gig economy employer.
The company revealed last week that it had received a notification from the government that its top shareholder, Vesa Equity Investment, could hike its stake to more than 25 per cent.
This move is now under a national security review amid connections with Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský.
However, the crux of CWU’s strikes is around worker pay, with members demanding a “substantial pay rise” and provision to protect them against soaring inflation.
Royal Mail have offered a 5.5 per cent offer pay rise, which has been rejected largely on the basis that it is dependent on a “series of changes that can only be described as a complete levelling down agenda for the future,” Ward told the BBC.
In response to Ward’s comments, a Royal Mail spokesperson told City A.M.: “In a parcels industry increasingly dominated by ‘gig economy’ models, we are proud that Royal Mail is different. We have a 97 per cent permanent workforce.”
Speaking with City A.M., partner at the law firm Gowling WLG Jonathan Chamberlain said shifting to a gig model would not make Royal Mail the kind of savings it might once have done in the past, stating that courts are “much more protective of gig workers” than ever before.
He said changing to a gig model would involve “upending a 100 years of industrial relations and uprooting employment rights forged over decades”. “I think it’s highly unlikely they would be that ambitious given the degree of risk involved,” Chamberlain said.