Postal workers in Watford and Rickmansworth protested over pay yesterday in what has been declared as “the biggest strike in the UK since 2009”.

More than 115,000 workers across the country took part in industrial action organised by the Communication Workers Union (CWU).

This included protests outside Royal Mail depots on Watford Business Park and in Rickmansworth town centre.

In Watford, members put up posters and flags as they congregated outside the entrance to the delivery office, while in Rickmansworth, members held CWU t-shirts that read ‘on strike for fair pay’ and ‘this is what a trade unionist looks like’.

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CWU general secretary Dave Ward says his members voted in favour of the strike by 97.6% in a ballot.

Mr Ward told the PA news agency: “This is the biggest strike in the UK since 2009, and we have got over 115,000 members who are out on strike.

“And it’s over pay - our members just lost total confidence in the actions of the company, the board.

“The company made record profits last year: £758 million. They gave away over £400 million to shareholders, they rewarded themselves with huge record bonuses for achieving their financial targets and then imposed a 2% pay increase on postal workers."

Watford Observer: Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward. Image: PACommunication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward. Image: PA

He added: “Against the background of rocketing inflation, rocketing energy bills, it’s simply not acceptable.

“Postal workers in the UK are one of the last remaining pillars of our society. We are going to fight hard to get our members the pay deal that they deserve.”

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Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson denied the accusation money from the company has been handed to shareholders, saying the Covid-19 “bubble has burst”.

On Friday, he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “Since the business has been privatised in terms of dividends, we paid out £1.9 billion, but in terms of pay rises during that period of time, we paid out £4.8 billion and I would also just like to make it clear that over the last three years, we spent £900 million on our team’s future by building infrastructure for parcels so that we can compete and win in the market.

“But our reality is that the Covid bubble has burst, and we can see the economic situation around us all.

“And our reality today is we are losing a million pounds a day.”

Watford Observer: Image: PAImage: PA

Mr Thompson said he was open to talk to unions “as long as that discussion is going to be around change”.

He apologised to customers for a “disrupted service” during the strike by workers but stressed change was necessary for the company.

The CEO added: “What is actually on the table at this point in time is 5.5%, which would cost us around about £230 million. And that’s an extra £230 million in a business that is currently losing £1 million a day.”

Friday’s strike is due to be followed by further action by workers on August 31, September 8, and September 9.

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