Postal workers look set to take strike action over the privitisation of the Royal Mail after the Communication Workers Union (CWU) warned a protest would be 'inevitable' if a deal couldn't be agreed.
The CWU has said 125,000 of its members will this month be balloted for a national postal strike, the first time since 2009.
The union is disputing the settlement of its 2013 pay claim, further changes to the workers' pension scheme, the impact of possible privatisation on job security, as well as the company's future strategy.
The earliest date for strike action to take place following the ballot is October 10th.
Plans to privitise the Royal Mail though a flotation on the London Stock Exchange were announced back in July, when the government said it needed to gain access to private capital to enable the business to grow.
CWU deputy general secretary, Dave Ward, said: "We are dealing with a company that is preparing for privatisation with relish. While the union continues to fight privatisation we are also dealing with the potential realities for workers if there is a change of ownership.
"We are looking to reach a groundbreaking agreement on terms and conditions that sets unprecedented legally binding protection for workers in the event of a sale, and regardless of who owns the company. Postal workers know franchising, break up and sale of mail centres, distribution hubs and Parcelforce, along with the introduction of a new workforce on lower terms and conditions, are real threats in a race to the bottom with mail competitors for any new company.
"We want Royal Mail and the government to put protections in place that are both meaningful and lasting."
The Department for Business said that action by the CWU would not affect the decision to privitise the Royal Mail, insisting that "a successful, financially sustainable Royal Mail with access to private capital is in the best interests of the workforce".
A Royal Mail spokesman said the organisation was "very disappointed" by the "inappropriate" steps taken by the CWU and that it was "committed to reaching an agreement with the CWU as soon as possible".
"A ballot for strike action does not mean there will be a strike; currently it is business as usual for Royal Mail," the spokesman added.
"Any industrial action, or the possibility of disruption, is damaging to our customers, and our business, especially in the run up to our busiest time, Christmas. Royal Mail operates in a very competitive market, especially in the parcels market. We recognise that customers have a choice and can move their business quickly.
"Royal Mail will do all that we can to protect our business and our customers' mail. We will work hard to minimise the impact of any industrial action on our customers."