Workers at Royal Mail have started strikes following a disagreement over cuts to jobs and services. The strikes will run on selected days between 17 and 24 August and have already begun in Coventry, London, Leamington Spa, Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent and will continue across the UK.
The union says Royal Mail is failing to invest in modernisation and is cutting jobs without agreement. Royal Mail says the union opposes necessary changes.
This phase of strikes comes before the the Communication Workers Union (CWU) aims to issue a national ballot in September on industrial action. It has argued that the reduction in jobs would compromise the quality of services provided.
A spokesperson for CWU said there were differences over what each side saw as modernisation, hence the recent deadlock in talks.
The shift online for some services, such as banking, had reduced some traditional mail, but on the other hand, people were shopping far more online, so more packages were being delivered, she explained. New equipment is needed to address this change, she said.
"We expect thousands of jobs to go, but for those left behind, we want job security agreement, with decent terms and conditions."
The CWU represents some 160,000 Royal Mail workers, and the current dispute involves about 130,000 people.
Meanwhile, Royal Mail said it was urging the union to call off its strikes and "join Royal Mail's drive to complete the modernisation of the business". Royal Mail said it had "already condemned the CWU for striking locally over much-needed modernisation and change".
The strikes affect collections, deliveries and sorting offices differently depending on the area, throughout the week and come in what is the fourth and final phase of a pay deal that was agreed in 2007 between the two sides.