Royal Mail, Union Edge Toward Strike

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The Communications Workers Union, which represents 160,000 Royal Mail postal workers in Great Britain, issued a strike ballot to its members after talks with management collapsed, the union said yesterday.

Union leaders urged members to vote "yes" on the ballot, the results of which are due by Sept. 17, in order to give union negotiators more leverage to restart talks. The weeks-long dispute between Royal Mail and the CWU over pay for postal workers culminated Wednesday when negotiations ended "acrimoniously," according to the union, with each side blaming the other for the failure of the talks.

Royal Mail has offered workers a pay increase of up to 14.5 percent over 18 months based on productivity improvements with 4.5 percent guaranteed, but the union is seeking more money up front. In a statement, Royal Mail CEO Adam Crozier said he had hoped the union would have been more realistic in its demands in light of the fact that Royal Mail lost 611 million pounds, or approximately $965 million, last year.

Talks were suspended Wednesday because the union demanded even more money that it had previously. However, Royal Mail still wants a deal Crozier said.

"When the CWU is ready to talk sensibly and realistically we are ready to talk at any time," Crozier said.

In a response statement, the union said Royal Mail negotiators arrived at the Wednesday meeting two hours late, made clear talks had ended and "insulted" union leadership with their attitude.

"They came along to deliver a lecture rather than conduct a negotiation," said Ray Ellis, senior union officer and negotiator.


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