Business fear devastating fallout from wave of Christmas post strikes


housands of London small businesses fear the wave of postal strikes planned for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the run up to Christmas will bring chaos to their deliveries to customers during their busiest time of year.

Online retailers and other suppliers say that the walkouts – which start tomorrow – will bring more costly disruption and the headache of extra contingency planning at a time of year when deliveries are at their most time sensitive.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) confirmed yesterday that talks with Royal Mail management had ended without agreement after the privatised postal company says it made its “best and final” offer.

As well as tomorrow and Monday strikes are scheduled for 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 December and Christmas Eve.

The confirmation has sent businesses and charities scrambling to find alternative more expensive delivery options to fulfil orders.

A spokesman for the Federation of Small Business (FSB) said:” Strikes are hitting small businesses from a variety of angles at a time when FSB has seen the lowest level of confidence recorded in a third economic quarter going into the ‘golden quarter’ for retailers – which is the period leading up to Christmas. The mail strikes add an extra burden on carrying out business, damage business confidence and lead to small businesses potentially losing out to online larger competitors.”

Simon Geale, EVP Procurement at at supply chain consultancy Proxima, said: “Black Friday is one of the busiest days for UK retailers and with the majority of sales now lying in ecommerce, the Royal Mail strikes pose a real concern for retailers and consumers.

“Retailers are struggling to meet delivery demands and consumers should expect severe delays in orders. Some will look to cut deals with courier services such as Yodel or DHL, but with couriers increasingly in demand, they are quickly reaching capacity.”

One group of disabled artists called for urgent Government intervention because of the potentially devastating impact of the stoppages. The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) have written to Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy highlighting the damage that the planned postal strikes will cause.

Tom Yendell, board member of the MFPA, said:“The livelihoods of our artists, and other countless small and independent businesses, rely on an effective postal service during the crucial trading period when people send Christmas cards and the volume of gifts and online shopping increases.

“The timing of the strikes could not be worse, but there is still time to put the brakes on and find alternative ways of raising attention that won’t cause financial harm.”

Jessica Willock, home insurance expert at comparison site, said: “Black Friday is one of the most popular times for buying online, and alone can result in delays even when there aren’t any strikes. The strikes are expected to continue over the festive season, so there could be some worry around parcels arriving before Christmas.

“When ordering items online, the retailer is responsible for getting them to you and ensuring they arrive on time and in one piece. So if you experience any delays or receive items that are damaged, you should reach out to them directly. It’s also a good idea to take photographic evidence if this happens so the retailer can investigate.”

Royal Mail CEO said “The CWU’s planned strike action is holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country, and is putting their own members’ jobs at risk.”

But CWU leader Dave Ward said: “The situation at the moment is that we are not budging; no worker and no union would accept the jobs, losses and the terms that they’re attaching for a future of an industry that we care about.”

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