Post union to announce strike decision

LONDON (Reuters) - The postal union said it would make a decision on Wednesday whether to press ahead with a three-day strike later this week after two days of talks aimed at resolving the row over the industry’s future.

A Royal Mail employee takes a break outside the company's Mount Pleasant depot in London February 24, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The executive of the Communication Workers Union will meet to discuss progress made during talks with the Royal Mail at the TUC on a dispute over pay, conditions and modernisation.

“Our executive will meet tomorrow afternoon and assess where everything is in terms of the talks that have been happening...they could call the strike off or, at the other extreme, call for more strike action,” a CWU spokeswoman said.

“I expect an announcement at our headquarters in Wimbledon before 5 p.m.” she said.

Earlier on Tuesday the union said it might seek an injunction to stop the Royal Mail from hiring thousands of temporary workers to help clear the backlog created by a series of strikes and the extra Christmas deliveries.

It said its lawyers are considering whether to go to the High Court to argue that the state-owned company’s plan to hire up to 30,000 part-time staff breaks employment law.

Royal Mail said earlier this month it would double the annual intake of temporary seasonal staff and deploy them earlier in the autumn to deal with the extra work.

The company had consulted lawyers to ensure that the move complied with employment law.

Royal Mail managers and the union are involved in a long-running dispute over plans to cut costs and modernise the service in the face of competition from email, the Internet, mobile phones and private rivals.

About 120,000 postal workers went on strike last Thursday and Friday, creating a massive backlog of undelivered letters. They are due to strike again on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

A Royal Mail spokesman said the company would not comment on the union’s potential legal action until it actually begins.

Reporting by Peter Griffiths and Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Steve Addison.