November 28, 2009 / 1:29 PM / 10 years ago

Postal workers could strike again within weeks

A postal worker pickets outside a sorting office in London October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - British postal workers could renege on an agreement to suspend strike action until after Christmas because of a lack of progress in talks aimed at resolving a dispute on pay, jobs and modernisation.

Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), has written to members saying more strikes could be called within weeks because Royal Mail is refusing to offer enough concessions, British media reported on Saturday.

“Unless there is sufficient evidence of a change in management’s attitude, local agreements being reached and significant progress towards a full and final agreement, then we will have no alternative other than to return to strike action before Christmas,” The Daily Telegraph quoted Hayes’ letter as saying.

Earlier this month Brendan Barber, the head of union umbrella group the Trade Union Congress and a mediator in talks between the two sides, said strike action had been suspended pending further efforts to settle the dispute and to prevent disruption of deliveries at the busiest time of year.

But the CWU letter goes on to say that a “strike-free Christmas” was not part of the interim agreement, the newspaper reported.

A spokesman for Royal Mail said the company remained “absolutely committed” to the negotiations.

Two waves of national strikes by postal workers in October caused widespread disruption to mail services and cost the British economy and retailers over a billion pounds.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Mike Peacock

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