Royal Mail accuses union as strike begins

Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:08 PM
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LONDON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- The Royal Mail in Britain accused union leaders of bringing new terms to the negotiations the day before a national strike.

The allegedly new terms included paying overtime to clear the buildup of work that would result from a strike and a strategy of banding together to work with the government on the Royal Mail's pension deficit of $16.5 billion.

A three-day strike began Thursday, The Times of London reported.

The Royal Mail's managing director, Mark Higson, said both sides closed in on a "sensible agreement" in talks Monday and Tuesday. After Wednesday, however, he suggested the union "get independent help to resolve its own internal position."

Dave Ward, director general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said it was "complete nonsense" to suggest the union had brought fresh demands to the table.

"The proposal that we tabled yesterday was in line with the progress that we had made in negotiations," he said.

A total of about 120,000 CWU workers are scheduled to strike, including 43,000 Thursday and 77,000 delivery and collection workers Saturday, the newspaper said.

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