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New wave of postal strikes; Bitter dispute escalates but talks will go on.

Byline: WESLEY JOHNSON

A FRESH wave of postal strikes will be held next week in an escalation of the bitter Royal Mail dispute, union leaders announced yesterday. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) served notice of further walk-outs next Friday, November 6 and Monday November 9. The move came after mediators said both sides would be considering a series of proposals designed to end the "high pressure dispute" over the weekend, with further talks planned next week.

Up to 120,000 CWU members will walk out from 3am on both days causing huge disruption to mail deliveries, the union said.

Earlier, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, who has chaired the talks between Royal Mail managers and the CWU, said more work was needed to "finalise the terms of a possible settlement". He told reporters it was a "difficult and complex dispute".

He said both sides would consider "a number of proposals" over the weekend and consult with colleagues "with a view to returning to the TUC for further negotiations early next week".

Mr Barber added: "Everyone involved in these talks knows how damaging it would be if an agreement is not achieved."

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said the company "continues to do all it reasonably and legally can to clear delayed mail and get post to customers as soon as possible".

Royal Mail managing director Mark Higson said yesterday the sticking point was resistance to modernisation in certain parts of the country.

He added: "The CWU's irresponsible behaviour underlines just how muddled and confused the thinking of the union is and how little it really cares about customers or the future of the service."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 31, 2009
Words:273
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