UK - Further strikes by Royal Mail staff protesting over the future of the company pension fund and other employment terms could be avoided if the postal workers' union accepts a newly proposed deal this afternoon.

Leaders of the Communication Workers Union were due to present the terms of the deal, brokered on Friday, to the CWU Postal Executive by 2pm London time this afternoon.
A spokesperson for the CWU said the union would not be releasing any details on the deal until the executive had looked over it.

Some 130,000 staff staged what was intended to be the first of a series of 48-hour strikes on 5 and 6 October over opposition to the closure of the Royal Mail's defined benefit pension scheme.

However the settlement reached on Friday has brought further strike action to a halt.

A statement from Royal Mail announced: "Royal Mail is pleased to report that negotiations with the Communications Workers Union have been successful and a settlement has now been reached."

If the Postal Executive accepts the settlement a ballot of 130,000 workers will be called.

A simple majority is required to approve the deal, and the results would be declared one month later.

Recent strikes and unofficial work stoppages have caused chaos to the postal system resulting in a significant build-up of undelivered mail and is thought to have cost the company hundreds of millions of pounds.

At the centre of the dispute is the existing final salary pension scheme, which Royal Mail has proposed closing, and a hike in the retirement age to 65.

Royal Mail announced in February it would be closing the existing pension scheme - with total assets of £23bn (€33bn) - to new members and opening a defined contribution scheme. The fund was previously understood to have a deficit of £6.6bn.

A spokesperson previously told IPE that no firm decisions had been made about the future of the pension scheme.

"No decisions have been taken as we've been clear that we'll be consulting our people on proposals with the clear objective of protecting our existing people's pensions in a way that is both affordable and exposes no-one to unacceptable risk," the spokesperson said.

Friday's deal came after the Royal Mail won a High Court injunction to prevent additional scheduled strikes.