Business

Don’t count on Christmas post as strikes bite

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upermarket shelves are already filling with pigs in blanket-flavoured crisps and other enticing festive fare.

But what sort of Christmas will it be? With long-running industrial disputes still rumbling across the economy it may not after all turn out to be the first “normal” Christmas for three years that everyone craves.

Not least, will we be able to send the usual billions of packages and cards with a reasonable chance they will arrive before Santa?

Today’s ominous announcement from Royal Mail suggests we may not and that strikes could interrupt the normal workings of the post in the run-up to the big day.

The company said it has been unable to reach any agreement with the Communication Workers Union after five weeks of talk in their disputes about pay and changes to working practices.

There have already been three strikes. Two more days of industrial action are in the diary for September 30 and October 1.

Royal Mail says the “CWU has blocked any meaningful discussion on the change agenda the company has set out, and has not put forward any viable alternatives that will fund further pay increases.” It points out that it lost £1 million a day in the first quarter.

Royal Mail has suggested that the conciliation service Acas has a go at breaking the log-jam. It has also outlined a series of changes to what it calls “a complex web of historic agreements” with the union. Chairman Keith Williams clearly believes this dispute is a battle that has to be won.

For the rest of us it could mean last Christmas posting dates will be a lot earlier than usual this year.

@JonPrynn

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