Royal Mail workers set date for strike vote

LONDON Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:27pm BST

Rain drops fall on a Royal Mail van outside it's Bethnal Green sorting office in east London, September 12, 2013. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Rain drops fall on a Royal Mail van outside it's Bethnal Green sorting office in east London, September 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Paul Hackett

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LONDON (Reuters) - Workers at Britain's Royal Mail postal service will begin voting next week on whether to strike, the Communication Workers Union said on Friday - just a week after the government formally launched the firm's privatisation.

Union leaders seeking guarantees on pay and conditions are opposed to the government's plans to sell off a majority stake in Royal Mail through a public listing. In July the CWU rejected a three-year pay offer.

Industrial action is expected by the government and may affect investors' demand for the firm, but Business Minister Michael Fallon said last week that the possibility of strikes would not be allowed to derail the floatation.

Royal Mail said in a statement it was very disappointed that the CWU had confirmed the strike ballot.

The CWU, which represents most of the Royal Mail's 150,000 staff, said ballot papers would be sent out on September 27 with the result of the vote due on October 16. If the workforce backs industrial action, the earliest possible date for strike action is October 23 - two weeks later than previously announced.

(Reporting by William James. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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