Plea for Government to intervene in postal dispute

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The Independent Online

Businessmen have urged the Government to intervene in the postal dispute, warning of the "damaging" effects strikes were having on recession-hit companies.

As members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) prepared to vote this week in a national ballot for strikes following months of local walkouts, the Direct Marketing Association said the Government should take action to help to resolve the dispute.

In a letter to the Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, the trade body's head of membership, Robert Keitch, said: "It is quite clear that businesses cannot sustain these interruptions indefinitely. Should a national postal strike take effect, this would have a significant impact on businesses that rely on issuing invoices and receiving payment via post."

He added: "We are seeing evidence that the economy might be staging a recovery from the recession and yet strike action could be the final blow for many struggling companies."

The Royal Mail rebutted accusations it was failing to cope with the strain on services caused by the long- running dispute over jobs and pay.

Pictures of mail strewn across the pavement were taken by customers who had visited a sorting office in south London to collect overdue post. A Royal Mail spokesman said: "We are doing everything we can to get as much mail to customers as soon as possible, including using management volunteers, to lessen the impact of the CWU strike action."

The union said the dispute is the biggest with Royal Mail since the national strike of 2007, which led to widespread disruption. Postal services are set to be hit by more walkouts next week, starting with delivery offices in Cambridgeshire on Monday. Royal Mail attacked the decision to press ahead with the nationwide ballot as "wholly irresponsible".