THIS Friday I met representatives from Royal Mail, after joining local posties on the picket line at Saltcoats sorting office in December.

In joining striking workers, I understood that many of us would receive Christmas cards from loved ones later than usual due to postal strikes, which sadly look set to continue.

I also tabled a Westminster Early Day Motion in support of Royal Mail workers which can be seen here.

Postal deliveries continued throughout the pandemic as Royal Mail employees stepped up to the plate. Many also knocked doors to check on the vulnerable and elderly, delivering care packages and vital medicines.

Partial privatisation of Royal Mail took place under the last UK Labour Government. It was then cheaply sold off by the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition in 2013. It’s market value almost doubled shortly afterwards but the service now faces almost an existential crisis.

Royal Mail has changed, with online shopping increasing parcel deliveries and email reducing the number of letters sent. However, the workforce is rightly concerned about the move to “Uberise” the service, transforming it into part of the gig economy, where workers are paid per parcel or delivery, introducing owner-drivers into its workforce. Gig workers usually have much fewer rights, such as sick and holiday pay. As well as bringing in new workers on lower terms, there are proposals to close mail centres.

Our posties’ 18 days of industrial action – a record for a Royal Mail dispute – losing significant income as a result, is not just about pay, important though that is. It’s about the survival of Royal Mail itself and conditions for the 140,000 plus employees who safely deliver our mail in all weathers to all corners of the UK.

Former Royal Mail chief executive Rico Back condemned his successor Simon Thompson, for mishandling the dispute. He accused him of being on “an unnecessary confrontational path”, and pointing out that his successor had never run a big company before his Royal Mail appointment, concluding that the situation is “toxic”.

This year 10,000 job losses are threatened, causing understandable anger, given that in late 2021, Royal Mail gave shareholders £400 million via a special dividend and share buyback, following a boom period for the company during the pandemic.

Last year, Royal Mail made a £758 million profit, up from £702 million the year before; a feat achieved as many other companies struggled.

Such bumper profits should have been used to re-invest in Royal Mail and its workforce. Without our posties, such profits simply could not have been made. However, mismanagement and this dispute has raised the stakes, jeopardising one of the most historic, trusted and recognised UK brands.

It’s time for Royal Mail to engage in meaningful and constructive talks with its employees. The future of our posties and the company itself depends on it.

Royal Mail needs to urgently demonstrate it feels the same and I delivered that message to Royal Mail when I met them on Friday.