Postal workers represented by the CWU voted overwhelmingly in favour of further strike action last month, but there is hope this could now be avoided.
The union has staged 18 days of strike action dating back to autumn 2022. Royal Mail claims action cost it in excess of £100m.
Here’s all the latest on the dispute, and the chances of further walkouts.
Will there be another Royal Mail strike?
Further action appeared to be on the cards when results of the CWU’s latest ballot on 21 February showed almost 96 per cent of workers were prepared to strike again.
At the time, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said it was a “stunning” result, which showed that Royal Mail workers were determined to continue campaigning against plans to introduce changes in the company, including the loss of 10,000 jobs.
However, the union and Royal Mail released a joint statement on Thursday announcing further talks. They plan to have a resolution by 12 March.
The statement said: “Both parties recognise that for these talks to reach a successful conclusion by 12 March, every effort needs to be made to urgently address and minimise the current tensions across Royal Mail Group workplaces, arising from the long-lasting dispute.”
The talks will “focus on all the issues that have given rise to the dispute, or arisen during the dispute, including the pay and changes require to secure the future of RMG”.
The CWU called off a 24-hour walkout planned for February, and had not announced any dates for action following the most recent ballot.
Why have Royal Mail workers been striking?
The main aim of striking postal workers is to gain a pay rise, which is in line with current inflation rates, but the walkouts are also over jobs and conditions.
Royal Mail has said it needs to cut as many as 10,000 jobs by August.
The company is looking to transition more towards parcel delivery and away from delivering letters, which have dwindled in popularity. It previously made a request to the Government to stop delivering letters on Saturdays, which was denied.
Mr Ward has said: “We believe there are thousands and thousands more jobs at risk than the 10,000 the company has put forward. They are waging war on the current workforce. Psychological warfare to make the job not worth it. To force people out and replace the workforce.”
After last month’s ballot, he added: “This vote is a historic testament to CWU members across the country, who have stood firm against the most severe attacks faced by any set of workers since the miners. It is proof that postal workers will not accept their livelihoods being destroyed so that a few at the top can generate serious profits at their expense.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said at the time: “We are disappointed that the CWU members who took part in the ballot have voted to take further industrial action.
“Even the threat of more strike action by the CWU means more customers will switch their parcel business to our competitors. We remain committed to getting around the table with the CWU, resolving this dispute and agreeing a pay and change deal for our people.
“Royal Mail can have a bright future, and the CWU play a part in that, but further strikes and resistance to change by the CWU will only worsen our financial position and threaten the long-term job security of our postmen and women.
“Not changing is not an option in a business losing £1m a day. The company’s financial position is worsening with every strike day, and we know that it is well understood by our employees. Royal Mail reported losses of almost £300m in the nine months to December 2022, two-thirds resulting from industrial action.”