[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
Royal Mail workers step up action
Royal Mail sorting office
Royal Mail said it was disappointed at the scheduled strikes
More than 2,500 postal workers in Scotland have joined a nationwide strike in a dispute over pay, pensions and future industry changes.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said its 24-hour walk out would hit Thursday's deliveries, with further disruption planned at the weekend.

Staff at Scotland's main mail processing centres walked out at 1900 BST.

The Royal Mail said it was "hugely disappointed" at the strike action.

Pay row

The strikes will see each section of the company, from the sorting and collection centres to those who make the deliveries, walking out for two separate 24-hour strikes over two weeks.

The move is designed to cause continuous disruption to the nation's postal service throughout the period at a "minimum cost" to CWU members, union officials said.

The union said the action reflected its growing frustration with the Royal Mail for its failure to take worker demands for job protection and increased pay "seriously".

The CWU fears 40,000 jobs will go as a result of increased mechanisation of the system.

Norrie Watson, divisional representative for the CWU in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "We accept that all modernisation will cost jobs but we want to do it in a negotiated manner.

"We have always been up for change in this business. It has changed, with the assistance of the union, for the past four to five years and we have had to suffer job losses in the region of 30,000 to 40,000."

We need to continue to change if we are to continue to compete in our new commercial situation
Ian McKay
Royal Mail

The union is also objecting to a 2.5% pay offer.

Mr Watson said: "A postperson who goes out in all sorts of weather and delivers a very efficient service is entitled to a normal pay rise."

Ian McKay, director of Scottish affairs at Royal Mail Group, called for "realism" and said the dispute was the "last thing" that he wanted.

He said: "The CWU don't seem to believe that we are in the position that we are.

"We need to continue to change if we are to continue to compete in our new commercial situation."

Mr McKay said the dispute was about change not pay.

"If our competitors are 40% more efficient than we are, that is not because we have bad workers, it is because we have not got the machinery and the back-up to let our workers work to their best capability," he said.

Two 24-hour walkouts have been held in the last month - the first national industrial action at the Royal Mail for more than a decade.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The Royal Mail gives its position



SEE ALSO
Strike action hits post services
29 Jun 07 |  Scotland
Union sets Royal Mail strike date
21 Jun 07 |  Business
Royal Mail talks end in stalemate
20 Jun 07 |  Business
Royal Mail loses Amazon contract
19 Jun 07 |  Business
Post union calls for fresh talks
11 Jun 07 |  Business
Postal workers back strike action
07 Jun 07 |  Business
Postal workers to vote on strikes
11 May 07 |  Business

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific