A Royal Mail strike on Black Friday would cause millions of packages to be undelivered representing a “major threat to UK retail”.
Strike action is due to take place on unspecified dates across the Christmas period, after the Communications Workers Union (CWU) voted by an overwhelming majority to take action, threatening the first national postal strike in a decade.
As fears mount that the union would strike on Black Friday, new research from consulting firm BearingPoint warns that 8.5 million parcels would have to be handed to private carriers, costing them millions in higher postal fees.
According to BearingPoint’s partner Stuart Higgins, this is likely to have a “huge impact on the British Public”.
“It is simply not going to be possible for retailers to re-allocate volume to other carriers over that period and the backlog created by an additional 8.5 million parcels over that one weekend could take a number of weeks to recover, dependent upon the length of the strike action, when it is considered on top of what is already an operational peak for sorting offices and parcel carriers across the country in the lead up to Christmas,” he said.
“A Black Friday strike could represent a major threat to UK retail at a time when the sector is desperate for a much-needed sales boost following a very lacklustre performance this year.
“If the CWU and its post office workers choose to strike during and immediately following Black Friday, their action will have a huge impact on the British public.”
Though specific dates for strike action have not yet been agreed, many fear that the union will aim to cause the maximum disruption possible.
CWU members said they are striking because Royal Mail is failing to meet an agreement reached last year, covering a raft of issues including job security and working hours.
The unions deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said following the vote: “Just over one year ago the Royal Mail Group Board and the CWU agreed a blueprint agreement for the future, a progressive agreement that included a historic pension solution, a mutual interest driven relationship and a joint vision for a successful postal service with social aims.
“Today the new RMG leadership are breaking that agreement.
“Our members take honour seriously and have voted to fight for that agreement against those who now seek to break up the great British postal service in the interest of fast-track profit and greed.”