UK rail, postal workers cancel strikes after queen's death

A union shared its "deepest condolences to her family, friends and the country."

September 9, 2022, 11:23 AM

British rail and postal workers on Thursday canceled scheduled strikes after Queen Elizabeth II died earlier that day.

The moves pause worker protests that in recent months have involved hundreds of thousands of workers and at times disrupted train and mail services across England.

The Communication Workers Union, or CWU, which represents 115,000 workers at the Royal Mail, called off a 48-hour strike that began on Thursday and was scheduled to continue on Friday.

"Following the very sad news of the passing of the Queen and out of respect for her service to the country and her family, the union has decided to call off tomorrow's planned strike action," the Communication Workers Union said in a tweet on Thursday.

A strike by the postal workers late last month across 1,500 locations, the first of several strikes planned for the ensuing weeks, marked the biggest work stoppage in England since 2009.

Postal workers are seeking a wage increase amid the country's near-historic inflation, which reached a 40-year high of 10.1% in July.

CWU said its members would not accept an "imposed" 2% pay raise, the BBC reported. Royal Mail said that the workers rejected an offer with raises of up to 5.5%.

PHOTO: Royal Mail postal workers hold placards and chant slogans as they stand on a picket line outside a delivery office, in north London, Sept. 8, 2022, during a strike.
Royal Mail postal workers hold placards and chant slogans as they stand on a picket line outside a delivery office, in north London, Sept. 8, 2022, during a strike.
Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, roughly 40,000 rail workers with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, or RMT, canceled a two-day strike set for Sept. 15 and 17

"RMT joins the whole nation in paying its respects to Queen Elizabeth," the union said in a statement. "We express our deepest condolences to her family, friends and the country."

The rail workers, who work at Network Rail and 14 train operators, have carried out intermittent strikes since June, when it appeared that their employers would reject a demand for a 7% pay raise.

Network Rail made an offer in July with raises worth more than 5%, but it depended on workers accepting "modernising reforms," the BBC reported. RMT rejected the offer, saying it amounted to a pay cut in inflation-adjusted terms and would require cutting a third of front-line maintenance roles.

In a statement, Network Rail confirmed that RMT had called off the strike, saying it would alert riders "when we receive more information on any confirmed or proposed industrial action."

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