Is Royal Mail Delivering the Wrong Messages on Industrial Relations?

by Professor Charlotte Villiers and Yefan Xu

The recent hearings of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Parliamentary Committee, taking oral evidence relating to Royal Mail on 17 January 2023, provide a case study of confrontational industrial relations brought about by corporate governance failure. A breakdown in trust between the boardroom and the company’s workforce is highlighted in the protracted and bitter industrial dispute involving strikes and stalemate in the negotiations around proposals to transform the business away from a universal service obligation of six days per week parcels and letters delivery and into ‘a more efficient parcels-focused operation’. Infrastructural changes have included increased automation and the introduction of ‘superhubs’ for parcels processing. The boardroom also seeks detrimental changes to the workers’ terms and conditions and working practices (redundancies, more flexible working, later shift times, some Sunday working) on the grounds that such changes will enable the company to compete in a ‘hyper-competitive market’ (Panel 1 Oral Evidence Transcript, and Panel 2 Oral Evidence Transcript). (more…)