UPDATED - Strike called as Royal Mail dispute escalates

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Royal Mail workers have voted to take strike action by a majority of four to one in a row over privatisation.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has announced that thousands of its members will walk out on November 4 after 78 per cent voted in favour of industrial action.

The union opposes the controversial privatisation of the service and wants a legally-binding agreement with Royal Mail bosses to protect its members’ conditions of employment following the sell-off.

Drivers, postmen and women, sorting staff and Parcelforce staff will take part in the national strike if no agreement is reached in the next two weeks.

The CWU said it was also considering further strike action.

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Postal workers have spoken very clearly that they care about their jobs, terms and conditions far more than they care about shares.

“The stakes have become much higher for postal workers since privatisation making this ballot more important than ever.

“Postal workers will not be the people who pay for the profits of private operators and faceless shareholders.”

Royal Mail said in a statement: “Royal Mail is very disappointed by the announcement that CWU members have voted in favour of taking industrial action in the ballot and that a strike day has been announced by the union.

“Any industrial action, or the possibility of disruption, is damaging to our business, especially in the run up to Christmas, our busiest time. We will do all that we can to protect our business and minimise the impact of any industrial action on our customers’ mail.”

Post Office staff are not included in the November 4 action after Royal Mail and the Post Office were split into separate companies.