Royal Mail workers to strike in November over issues linked to controversial privatisation

Union backs industrial action just seven weeks before Christmas - the busiest time of year for the postal company

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The Independent Online

Royal Mail staff are to strike early next month in the latest chapter of a long-running dispute over workers’ rights between the unions and the newly privatised company.

Postal workers belonging to the powerful Communication Workers Union (CWU) will strike on 4 November for 24 hours after securing a 78 per cent backing in the ballot for industrial action.

It will be the first national postal strike in nearly four years, and raises the prospect of further disruption to the postal service during the vital Christmas period.

CWU insists the Government has undervalued the group and is keen to protect pay, pensions, and job security for staff.

In an attempt to settle the dispute, Royal Mail said on Tuesday that its staff would receive 725 shares each in the public company, worth just under £3,500 at yesterday’s share price close.

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “Postal workers have spoken very clearly that they care about their jobs, terms and conditions far more than they care about shares.

“The stakes have become much higher for postal workers since privatisation. Postal workers will not be the people who pay for the profits of private operators and faceless shareholders.”

With further action promised by the union, more strikes in the coming weeks could play havoc with the postal system in the busy pre-Christmas period.

Mr Ward said the CWU had offered Royal Mail a two week period to reach an agreement. He called on Royal Mail to avoid breaking up the company further, and franchising off individual offices or delivery rounds.

Royal Mail said today it was “very disappointed” by the strike news and said it would harm its business.