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  1. ITV Report

Royal Mail workers vote massively in favour of strike action

Royal Mail workers have voted to strike. Credit: PA

The Royal Mail is facing the threat of the first national strike since it was privatised after workers voted massively in favour of industrial action in a bitter dispute over pensions, pay and jobs.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) backed walkouts by 89% on a turnout of 73% of the 110,000 balloted.

It passed the threshold in the Government's controversial Trade Union Act, under which ballots need a 50% turnout for industrial action to go ahead.

The CWU believes it is a "watershed" moment for unions as well as the Royal Mail, which it has accused of following a "relentless" programme of cost-cutting to maximise short-term profits and shareholder returns.

The union accused the company of "unilaterally" closing its defined benefit, or final salary, pension scheme, with new entrants going into an "inferior" scheme which will leave them in "pensioner poverty".

The union is also in dispute over pay and issues such as delivery office closures.

Royal Mail said it was "very disappointed" by the ballot result.

A ballot result for industrial action does not necessarily mean there will be industrial action. Royal Mail is committed to further talks as a matter of urgency, to reach agreement with the CWU.

There are no grounds for industrial action. We want to reach agreement.

Industrial action is damaging for our business. It undermines the trust of our customers. It makes it harder to pay for the great terms and conditions we provide for our employees.

National industrial action means the current offer from Royal Mail, including on pensions, will be taken off the table.

In 2013, Royal Mail and the CWU committed to the Agenda for Growth (AFG) – a legally binding agreement. Royal Mail has brought to the CWU’s attention the contractual dispute resolution procedures included in the AFG, which both sides are required to follow once instigated.

They escalate to independent external mediation, which we expect will take close to Christmas to be completed, and may be longer. We believe these dispute resolution procedures must be followed. The union cannot take industrial action until they have been completed.

– Royal Mail statement