22/10/2009

Royal Mail Hit By National Stoppage

Postal services across the UK are set for major disruption this week as the first nationwide postal strike in two years began this morning at 4am.

It takes place after talks between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) broke down.

Mail centre staff and drivers began a 24-hour walkout in the early hours and delivery and collection staff will strike on Friday with more strike dates expected.

Earlier this month, postal workers voted three to one in favour of nationwide industrial action (though Royal Mail said 60% of the total number of postal workers in the UK did not vote to strike)

The CWU set dates for the first nationwide postal strikes in two years and then last-gasp talks failed to reach an agreement and indeed the split between the union and Royal Mail management became more acrimonious

The CWU said it would be announcing plans for further strike action.

Royal Mail condemned the strikes, which it said were "wholly unjustified".

It had earlier issued a plea for a "strike-free period of calm" in the run-up to Christmas, saying industrial action would bring "huge damage and distraction" and cause "pain and disruption" for customers.

Royal Mail said today that its door is still open to sign the agreement negotiated with the Communication Workers Union.

The company condemned as reckless and unjustified the CWU's decision to go ahead with strike action today and tomorrow despite Royal Mail's willingness to sign an agreement, negotiated with the CWU on Tuesday, that would avert this week’s strikes, ensure no further strikes until the end of the year - and give both parties a period of calm for further talks and give customers the service they deserve between now and Christmas.

Mark Higson, Royal Mail Managing Director, said it was totally outrageous for the CWU to accuse the company of reneging on a deal when it was the union that had walked away.

He repeated his offer to meet the union at any time to sign the words agreed by the CWU on Tuesday night which Royal Mail had expected to be rubber stamped by the union's National Executive.

"It's now clear that the union leaders who were in the negotiations could not get the support of their own executive.

"It would seem that their negotiating team led by Dave Ward has not been able to get their National Executive to approve the words that we agreed with the union on Tuesday.

"My door is open and my phone is on and I am urging them again today to meet me so that we can all sign that agreement, get the strikes stopped and give us some peace in which we can get on with delivering Christmas for our customers," he said.

See: : Retailers Warn Of Postal 'Mayhem'

(BMcC/GK)

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