Hello everyone, Dorrie here! My contributions to blogs are few and far between since Sophie and Beth started last year but I thought I would hop on to talk about the up coming Royal Mail strikes as it is something that has and will affect the way that we operate here at Sweet Cecily’s and is an issue we all feel very strongly about.
For anyone that isn’t aware, The Communication Workers Union (CMU) have called their members to strike action, across many different industries including Royal Mail, over some of the busiest posting days of the year.
Why are Royal Mail Workers Striking?
The main reason for Royal Mail workers striking comes down to pay and working conditions. If you, like many people often only hear soundbites from the radio or skim read the beginning of a news article (I too, am guilty of this!), you’d be forgiven for thinking that it all sounds like a lot of hoo-har over not much, but the reality of the treatment of Royal Mail workers is a lot more complex than a headline in a newspaper can convey. I’m going to try to explain it simply and easily, so you too, can be informed about the valid reasons that the workers are taking action.
A Brief History of Royal Mail
Royal Mail first came about in 1516 and began its life as a publicly owned company, meaning that it was owned and controlled by the British Government. It is considered to be one of the oldest organisations in the whole world! Fast forward a few hundred years to 2013, and Royal Mail becomes privatised for the first time in its history. This was only possible because of a piece of government legislation that was passed called the ‘Postal Services Act 2011’ which decreed that the government were allowed to sell shares off to private investors, meaning that 90% of it’s shares can be owned privately. Many opposed the decision to privatise Royal Mail including 96% of Royal Mail staff at the time.
The reasons given for the shift to privatisation were to do with the increase in demand for parcel delivery and the decrease in demand for letter delivery. This shift in demands of services was largely due to the rise of internet shopping. Whether you agree with the privatisation of Royal Mail or not, it has led to significant changes to the way the company operates and that includes decisions about pay rises, staffing resources and certain employee benefits.
Key Workers During the Pandemic
Even when a lot of the world ground to a halt during the pandemic, Royal Mail workers did not. They kept us stocked with Covid-19 testing kits, delivering important supplies to businesses and individuals alike and were often the only person that isolated individuals would see daily. The postal workers, the delivery office workers, the admin staff, and the managers all play an integral part of keeping this country stay connected and should be compensated for this hard work and dedication by being able to earn a wage that reflects the current costs of living, right? If you agree with that statement, then you will undoubtedly agree with their decision to take strike action.
The company imposed a meagre 2% pay rise for its workers, whilst inflation is at 11.8%. This pay rise does not reflect the rise in the cost of living, which means its actually technically a pay cut.
Now, you might be thinking that a lot of companies will struggle to afford a pay rise that is in line with inflation, as many businesses will also feel the effects of a rise in overheads and expenses during the current economic environment. Whilst this is true for many small businesses, it might surprise you to know that the decision to only offer a 2% pay rise to its workers was made with the knowledge that Royal Mail had turned over £758 million in profits, dishing out a substantial amount of that to private shareholders.
Since the strikes have been announced, the bosses of Royal Mail are now threatening to cut up to 10,000 jobs if the strike action goes ahead.
Why we Support Royal Mail Workers Strike Action
Left to right; Dorrie, Sophie & Beth during their fundraiser for Refuge, a charity which supports women fleeing domestic violence
Here at Sweet Cecily’s, we feel passionately about fairness and democracy. We believe that every worker deserves to be recognised for their contribution and thus deserves a wage which reflects that. We believe in equality which means no big bonuses for those at the top, whilst those at the ‘bottom’ fight for scraps.
At Nature’s Laboratory Ltd (the umbrella company for BeeVital, Herbal Apothecary and Sweet Cecily’s) we have already been dealt many financial blows from Brexit to increases in electricity costs and other overheads and yet we still hold to our promise of paying our workers a fair wage and have given all employees a pay rise since the Living Wage was raised in September last month.
What this Means for Your Orders
If you’ve gotten this far, well done and thank you for persevering! You may be wondering what all of this means if you have placed an order or are thinking of placing an order. We have used Royal Mail to send all our orders out from the very beginning of Sweet Cecily’s (over a decade now!) and will continue to do so as we feel that it is important to keep supporting the great workers who work hard to keep the country connected. Moreover, the service in which they provide has been extremely well run and efficient, often times better than other big name couriers.
Unless your order has been placed via express delivery, it will be sent via Royal Mail which takes 2-3 working days to arrive. Please check the strike dates posted below, as we won’t be sending any orders out on those days. This might mean that there is a slight delay with your orders, but we would rather this than use a different courier and go back on our promise of supporting the workers during this time.
How You Can Help
The dates that have been announced for strike action fall on some of the busiest online shopping days in the run up to Christmas. The choice for these dates is intentional as the workers walk out will have the most impact at times where their service is in high demand.
The Sweet Cecily’s team politely ask our customers to place their orders as soon as possible, to ensure that their gifts have the best chance of arriving when they are desired. We often advise our customers do this even when there isn’t strike action, because Royal Mail are under a huge amount of pressure in the run up to Christmas, and that does mean that unintended delays can occur. We ask you to please be patient during these times and to remember that what the workers are fighting for is just and fair, especially at a time where many people are struggling to make ends meet.
Thursday 20th & Tuesday 25th
Wednesday 2nd, Thursday 3rd, Friday 4th
Tuesday 8th, Wednesday 9th Thursday 10th
Monday 14th, Tuesday 15th, Wednesday 16th
Wednesday 23rd, Thursday 24th, Friday 25th (Black Friday)
Monday 28th (Cyber Monday)
A Big Thank You
To conclude, myself and the team would like to extend our thanks to the workers of Royal Mail who we have depended on to deliver our parcels and large letters since the very beginning of Sweet Cecily’s. We operate in the fairly small town of Whitby, so we have really gotten to know the wonderful people who deliver our post and make our business collections every day, and they are some of the hardest working, decent people we’ve come across.
We would also like to thank you, our lovely customers for your continued patience and cooperation.