Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 10:14 UK

Further walkout by postal workers

Woman looking at post boxes
The capital has been hit by a series of postal strikes

Postal workers in London are walking out in the latest of a series of strikes.

Thousands of Royal Mail staff have stopped work for 24 hours in protest to changes to pay and conditions.

It comes as the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted for a national strike - a move denounced as "suicidal" by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson.

At its highest there has been a backlog of 15 million undelivered letters in London since the strikes began in June.

Frank Merritt, who runs The Carvery, a business in Hackney, east London, making vinyl records for small music labels, said: "It's driving me round the bend - it's just ridiculous.

"It is hard enough in a recession as a small business as it is - let alone with the added stress and complication of having this going on."

'Threatening customers'

Royal Mail managing director Mark Higson said: "If the union are serious about resolving this dispute they should immediately lift the threat of strike action, including the strikes for London, which have hung over customers far too long.

"The CWU continues to threaten customers and fails to honour repeated offers to call off all strikes even though Royal Mail told them two weeks ago there would be no further changes [to conditions] this year.

"Since then the union have called strikes in more than 150 delivery offices."

A CWU spokeswoman said: "We are really sympathetic and understand what small businesses are going through.

"But we can't apologise for people partaking in democratic action."

Dave Ward, the union's deputy general secretary, said: "We have written to Royal Mail making it clear that the CWU is ready to issue notice for a national strike as voted for by three quarters of postal workers.

"More importantly, we have offered what we believe is a genuine alternative to reach a lasting agreement.

"If Royal Mail really is sincere about reaching an agreement we expect them to take up this offer for the interests of all involved in the mail industry."

The union wants a new benefits package to reward postal workers and has demanded Royal Mail step back from imposing changes to working conditions.

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