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Friday, June 29, 2007

National postal strike cripples U.K.

Postal deliveries are set to be crippled tomorrow as workers strike over pay and jobs. In the first national walkout by workers in over a decade, up to 130,000 members of the Communication Workers Union will take action from the start of 3am shifts. They rejected a 2.5 per cent pay offer and warned that the Royal Mail’s modernisation plans will lead to 40,000 job losses.

Last ditch talks aimed at breaking the deadlock failed on Wednesday evening, leading to warnings that the strike would damage the postal organisation and boost its competitors.

Picket lines will be mounted outside sorting and delivery offices, while managers will be called in to cover for striking workers at Crown Post Offices.

As well as the 24-hour strike by delivery and sorting office workers, staff at the 458 Crown Offices will take industrial action until 12 noon.

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “What Royal Mail are doing is not modernisation. The truth is, they are intent on cutting services, cutting jobs and cutting pay.

“We have tried to reach an agreement but Royal Mail are refusing to negotiate.”

Royal Mail said the strike would only add to the “very difficult competitive challenges” the organisation was already facing.

Chief executive Adam Crozier said: “Royal Mail will do all it can to mitigate the impact of strike action but we are very disappointed for our customers at the disruption they are now facing."

Mr Crozier said the Royal Mail was losing business, such as an £8million contract with online retailer Amazon, because it had failed to modernise.

The union is demanding that postal workers’ pay should rise to the national average over the next five years, which the Royal Mail said amounted to a 27 per cent increase.

The union is also campaigning to prevent the Royal Mail closing 70 larger post offices and move services into WH Smith stores.