UK's Royal Mail staff vote for fresh strike action

A postal worker makes a delivery in London, Britain, July 21, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Postal workers at Britain's Royal Mail (RMG.L) have voted to strike in protest at proposed changes to their terms and conditions, a trade union said on Wednesday, the latest move in a wave of industrial action as inflation hits 40-year highs.

More than 98% of the members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) who took part in a ballot backed what would be the second walk-out by more than 115,000 postal workers this summer, the union said.

"The ongoing attempts of Royal Mail Group to whittle away people's hard-won working conditions will be met with fierce opposition," CWU Deputy General Secretary Terry Pullinger said.

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A range of industries, from the railways to ports and airlines, have been hit by strikes in recent weeks as wages fall further behind soaring inflation that topped 10% in July.

The government has said that big pay increases now would risk making the jump in inflation longer-lasting, a claim disputed by unions.

More than 115,000 Royal Mail workers are already due to strike in a separate dispute over pay on Aug. 26 and 31, followed by two more days of stoppages early next month, in possibly Britain's biggest strike this summer. read more

The four days of strike are expected to result in an annual loss for Royal Mail's UK business in the 2022/23 fiscal year. read more

The company, one of the world's oldest postal groups, says its proposed changes to a workforce agreement will help support its pay offer to CWU-grade colleagues for an increase of up to 5.5%, which it says would be its biggest rise in years.

"We wanted to meet this week but were disappointed the CWU couldn't make it - we hope to meet next week," a Royal Mail spokesperson said. "The CWU have their heads in the sand and are failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation."

Royal Mail said it had contingency plans in place to minimise disruption but warned post collections will be less frequent on strike days.

The CWU must give at least 14 days' notice before any strike.

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Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Kylie MacLellan and William Schomberg

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