Strikes spread to railways

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The Independent Online
Industrial unrest in the public services yesterday spread to the rail network, the health service and JobCentres, as Royal Mail management warned postal workers' leaders that their offer to end the long-running dispute was "final", writes Barrie Clement.

Union leaders declared that rail services run by nine train operating companies faced "major disruption" after workers voted overwhelmingly to strike later this month in two disputes over productivity pay and refreshment breaks.

In the health service, more than 350 National Health Service trusts and authorities yesterday failed to meet a deadline imposed by the public sector union Unison for topping up a national pay wage deal of 2 per cent.

Unison set in train a process which will end with ballots on industrial action at all NHS employers which refuse to improve on the nationwide settlement.

Meanwhile, Benefits Agency staff in hundreds of offices will begin a 48-hour strike today over fears for their safety when the controversial Jobseekers' Allowance is introduced in October.