Strikes continues as union chiefs weigh up Royal Mail deal

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London, Oct 15 (UNI) Postal workers staged a fifth day of unofficial strike today, despite efforts to end their bitter dispute with the Royal Mail over pay, jobs and pensions.

Strikes continued in Liverpool this morning, as leaders of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) prepared to discuss a proposed settlement.

The union's executive will meet this afternoon to consider the deal drawn up after talks last week.

CWU leaders and the Royal Mail's chief executive, Adam Crozier, signed a joint statement after the deal was reached late on Friday.

The union executive will be deciding whether to recommend the deal in a ballot of 130,000 members.

A CWU official was quoted by Guardian as saying, ''It looks likely that they will accept it, but I wouldn't like to second guess the outcome. The executive can be unpredictable at times.'' It is thought that the proposed deal includes a 6.9 per cent pay rise over two years, as well as agreements on flexible working and pensions.

The union said today's strikes in Liverpool were on a much smaller scale than last week's.

Problems were also reported in some sorting offices in the south-east, but employees later returned to work, the Royal Mail said.

More than 50 mail centres were affected last week by the unofficial action when fresh rows broke out over changes to working hours.

London and Liverpool were the worst-hit areas, although parts of Scotland were also affected.

Mark Walsh, the secretary of the Liverpool CWU branch, said that members could return to work this afternoon.

''We need safeguards around the ability to negotiate later starts and not have them imposed. We believe we can negotiate flexibility rather than have draconian implementations,'' he said.

A Royal Mail spokesman said that 99 per cent of employees have returned to work.

UNI

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