Royal Mail, Union Reach Pension Deal

Tentative agreement ends months-long dispute between the postal service and its main union.

After months of negotiations, UK postal services provider Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have finalized the details of a tentative deal to end an ongoing pension dispute.

“We have indeed now reached a negotiators agreement with Royal Mail Group on all of the issues of concern and all of the issues that we campaigned on,” said Terry Pullinger, deputy general secretary postal of CWU, in a video announcement to members. “The negotiators believe that it does match the right balance between all of the issues we wanted to take forward.”

The agreement also covers issues such as pay, a shorter working week, culture, and operational changes. The CWU’s Postal Executive Committee will hold a two-day meeting on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31 to go through the agreement and make a final decision.

Details of the agreement were not released, however, in a joint statement, the two sides said an announcement with the specifics of the final agreement “will be made in due course.”

The two sides are reportedly in favor of Collective Defined Contribution (CDC) pension plans, which were authorized by UK legislation in 2015, but still require regulations before they can be deployed. CDCs differ from defined benefit plans in that the employee is not promised a certain retirement income, but instead has a target amount that will be paid out based on a long-term, mixed-risk investment plan. They differ from defined contribution plans in that they invest savings in a collective pot, rather than make each individual determine how to best invest their retirement savings.

The dispute began last year when Royal Mail announced it would end its defined benefit pension plan, and move workers into a defined contribution plan. In October, Royal Mail workers voted overwhelming in favor of going on strike, with 89.1% of those casting ballots calling for industrial action. However, Royal Mail won a High Court injunction preventing a planned 48-hour strike by postal workers.

“I absolutely believe that we have now, with this agreement, laid the foundation for the right attitude and approach to the future of our business,” said Pullinger. “This agreement will be seen as an excellent achievement by this trade union.”

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