What small business owners should know about the planned postal strike

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More than 115,00 postal workers across the UK are expected to go on strike this week, which will impact independent retailers using Royal Mail to send out online orders.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which has called the strike, say it will be the largest scale industrial action we’ve seen this summer and that disruptions will continue until Royal Mail’s leadership “gets real on pay.”

Why are postal workers going on strike?

Like most strikes we’ve seen so far in 2022, the action is in response to pay rises that don’t reflect the rapid rise in inflation. Postal workers have been offered a 5.5 per cent increase on their annual salary but the union says this only reflects a 2 per cent rise, a further 1.5 per cent in exchange for a change to terms and conditions as well as a £500 bonus.

As it stands, the CWU believes this will lead to a dramatic reduction in living standards for postal workers due to rising inflation and the cost of living crisis.

When will the strike go ahead?

Four days are planned for strike action so far:

Friday 26th August 2022

Wednesday 31st August 2022

Thursday 8th September 2022

Friday 9th September 2022

What does this mean for small businesses?

In short, if you rely on the Royal Mail to send out orders, your customers will probably have to wait longer to receive their parcels. The good news is that most shoppers will already be aware of the strike and will likely be understanding as long as you are upfront about the expected delays.

The Royal Mail says it’s “really sorry for the disruption that this strike action is likely to cause to you. We want to reassure you we will do everything we can to minimise disruption and get our services back to normal as quickly as possible.

“Royal Mail has well-developed contingency plans, but they cannot fully replace the daily efforts of its frontline workforce. We will be doing what we can to keep services running, but customers should expect significant disruption.”

Will any post be delivered on the strike days?

On the days strike action is taking place, the Royal Mail says it will still deliver as many Special Delivery parcels as possible – but it won’t be able to guarantee its delivery times as usual. Customers won’t be able to claim for delays either, so ensure you let your customers know if there’s likely to be a delay with their order.

It will also deliver as many Tracked24 parcels as possible on the strike days but will be prioritising the delivery of Covid test kits and medical prescriptions. There will likely be a delay to parcels sent via this service so again let shoppers know if they are affected.   

Royal Mail will not be delivering letters on strike days unless they’ve been sent by Special Delivery. So, if you’re sending out letters on the day before the strike or anywhere in between, you can probably expect a delay.

If you need to collect or drop off items, Royal Mail Delivery Offices and Customer Service Points will be closed on strike days. They will reopen the day after the action, but you should probably expect queues.

Post Offices, meanwhile, are expected to open as usual (apart from a small number on 26 August) but collections will be limited on the strike days. Businesses should expect delays to items sent on strike days and on the days immediately after strike action.

When will the usual postal service resume?

The Royal Mail says it wants to get services back to normal as quickly as possible after any strike action: “After industrial action takes place, we’ll be increasing our network capacity and using additional resources to assist with getting services back to normal. 

“Collections from business customers, Post Offices and post boxes will resume the day after strike action finishes.

“Deliveries will also resume the day after strike action finishes.  This will include accelerating the delivery of NHS and healthcare letters and critical Government mailings in the days following strike action.”

For the latest updates on the strike visit royalmail.com/latest-news or sign up for service updates at royalmail.com/serviceupdates.