WEARSIDERS face chaos after Royal Mail postal workers voted in favour of a 24-hour all-out strike next month.
Seventy-eight per cent of members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which includes staff at the main delivery office at Sunderland Enterprise Park and the Royal Mail call centre at Doxford Park, voted in favour in the ballot.
The CWU has issued an ultimatum, giving Royal Mail two weeks to reach an agreement over pay and conditions, or deliveries across Sunderland will be affected.
Sunderland CWU rep Steve Keeley said: “We have offered the company a two-week period to reach an agreement, and having already had many hours of negotiation, this is achievable if there is a will.
“The clock is ticking for both sides, and we need Royal Mail to work to reach agreement before this deadline.”
The CWU has also said it will carry out a second ballot asking workers to support action short of a strike, to carry out a boycott of competitors’ mail.
The union has accused the Government of “deliberately creating a scramble” for shares, leading to many private investors cashing in their allocation at a big profit in the past few days.
The share surge sparked further anger about public assets being sold too cheaply.
A strike on November 4 will take place just seven weeks before Christmas, hitting the start of the busy festive season –the busiest time of year for the postal company.
Royal Mail said it was “very disappointed” by the strike vote, adding that action, or the threat of disruption, was damaging to its business, especially in the run-up to Christmas.
A statement said: “Royal Mail will do all that we can to protect our business and minimise the impact of any industrial action on our customers’ mail.”
David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister’s view is that he hopes that industrial action won’t go ahead. It is not necessary. It should be talks and not strikes to resolve issues.”