Strike threat resurfaces at Royal Mail

Strike threat resurfaces at Royal Mail

Hot on the heels of the wildcat strikes over pay in 2007, Royal Mail faces the threat of a new round of industrial action.

Unions have rejected the postal group's plan to overhaul its pensions scheme and are poised to ballot nearly 150,000 members over whether they back the plan or not.

Royal Mail said a year ago that it intended to close its final-salary scheme to new employees and to raise the retirement age from 60 to 65. It then proposed ending the final-salary scheme for all employees and creating a career average plan, which would be linked to the retail prices index.

When last year's dispute over pay was settled, Royal Mail agreed to continue talks with the unions over pensions, but they have failed to make progress after nearly four months.

The Communication Workers Union and Unite will start to ballot their members shortly. If, as officials believe, the pension plans are rejected in the ballots, a strike vote would be virtually certain. The unions are recommending rejection of Royal Mail's plans. Results of the ballots will be declared days before Royal Mail plans to implement the pensions changes at the start of April.

The threat of fresh strike action comes as Royal Mail is under increasing attack over the shutting of 2,500 post offices. The closures, which are being rolled out regionally, have hit London, sparking growing complaints that profitable, popular offices are being shut. There are also complaints over the consultation period, which lasts only six weeks.

The company has partly blamed pension contributions for profit slides in the past two years, down a third to £223 million to the end of March last year. Despite this, Adam Crozier, the chief executive, received a £469,000 bonus, taking his total remuneration to £1.3 million, an increase of 16% on the previous year.