Royal Mail workers' vote raises prospect of strike

Royal Mail workers will vote next week on an emergency resolution that raises the prospect of the third national postal strike in five years. The resolution, to be discussed behind closed doors at the Communication Workers Union annual conference in Bournemouth, sets out a series of objections to Royal Mail's latest business plan.

The resolution will launch a massive consultation with the union's members. It will also call for Royal Mail workers to use all means up to and including industrial action to combat the company's plans.

The CWU confirmed the issue would be debated at Tuesday's conference and local union officers are understood to have received "letters to branches" alerting them to the motion and urging them to get members involved. Key issues include stopping compulsory redundancies and preserving workers' benefits, including pensions.

The union is also unhappy about the extra workload placed on its members by revisions to working practices introduced in the plan. The motion also attacks Royal Mail's recent announcement that shares awarded to workers, to give them a stake in the company, are now worthless.

The union will also continue to oppose plans to privatise Royal Mail.

The union is said to be uneasy over the prospect of another strike after ending a bitter, long-running dispute with Royal Mail in March last year. The deal agreed then included a pay agreement and increased job security but the new business plan has been introduced since.

Talks are understood to be continuing between the CWU and Royal Mail, and the company has agreed to consider revisions to its plan. Royal Mail declined to comment.

The union yesterday opposed proposals for mutualisation of the Post Office branch network, made in a Government-commissioned report. The CWU said the move, which could happen along with privatisation of Royal Mail, would do "huge damage".

Separately, the listed company UK Mail said above-inflation price rises imposed by Royal Mail on rivals using its network would hit its margins.

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