Workers at Royal Mail have begun the first of 19 strikes in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) reported that 115,000 members across the UK went on strike for 24 hours on Thursday, beginning at 4:00 a.m. BST.

According to General Secretary Dave Ward, workers are facing the “largest ever assault” on jobs, terms and conditions “in the history of Royal Mail.”

READ MORE: UNIONS LAUNCH A LEGAL CHALLENGE AGAINST THE UK GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT THE RIGHT TO STRIKE

Further strikes, according to Royal Mail, would “weaken” its financial position.

The planned 19 days of the strike include Black Friday week and Cyber Monday, as well as October 13, 20, 25, and 28.

The Royal Mail has warned that letters will not be delivered and that some parcels will be delayed.

READ MORE: ROYAL MAIL STAFF SET FOR 19-DAYS OF STRIKE ACTION IN THE RUN-UP TO CHRISTMAS

This is the sixth strike for postal workers, following a summer of unrest that saw rail workers and criminal barristers walk out over workplace disputes.

Royal Mail has been accused by the CWU of planning structural changes. According to the union, this would effectively turn employees in secure, well-paying jobs into a “casualised, financially precarious workforce overnight.”

The postal service’s plans include reducing workers’ sick pay, delaying mail delivery by three hours, and offering lower pay to new employees.

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Mr. Ward, the General Secretary, warned that the changes could “destroy the special relationship that postal workers and the public have in every community in the UK.”

He described the plans as an “asset-stripping business plan” resulting in the company’s dissolution.

Royal Mail said it would do everything possible to keep services running, but the strike would most likely cause disruption.

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During strike days, no letters will be delivered, but as many special deliveries and Tracked24 parcels as possible will be delivered, according to Royal Mail.

It also stated that the delivery of Covid-19 test kits and medical prescriptions would be prioritised.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Royal Mail is losing £1m a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands.”

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Industrial action will threaten the job security of postal workers, said Royal Mail, calling on the leaders of CWU to cancel the walk-out and accept invitations for talks.

Royal Mail apologised for any delays to customers, adding: “We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”

Source: BBC

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