UK - Union officials at the Communication Workers Union (CWU) say fresh industrial action could be taken unless Royal Mail goes back to the discussions tables about changes to its pension schemes.

A consultative ballot of CWU's 140,000 members found 92% of Royal Mail employee respondents voted to reject changes to the £20m (€23m) schemes which Royal Mail enforced from March 31.

A spokeswoman for CWU told IPE the union considered the ballot as "hugely flawed", because it was conducted over the Christmas period and received few responses - placing the finding in favour of Royal Mail which said it wanted to raise the retirement age and close the scheme to new members, according to the spokeswoman.

CWU officials are now seeking fresh talks in the hope this will avert strike action and have formally approached Royal Mail to begin discussions, as such action caused widespread disruption and damage to Royal Mail's financial status last summer.

Dave Ward, deputy general secretary of the CWU, said "if Royal Mail can't find an acceptable solution with the CWU, industrial action will be inevitable".

The CWU spokeswoman said "obviously we don't want to have to go that way towards strike action, and we are very keen to get back into fresh negotiations".

This latest ballot announcement follows that of Royal Mail managers two weeks ago, conducted by Unite which also saw its members reject the employer's proposals for pension reform. [See earlier article: Royal Mail managers reject pension deal]

Speaking to IPE today, Paul Reuter, national secretary at Unite, said while the managers' union was working very closely with the CWU and was also seeking further discussion with Royal Mail.

That said, should Royal Mail officials be unwilling to revise the pension reforms, the timetable for strike action could begin as early as May, Reuter confirmed.

He noted while trustees have sided with the employer at this stage, Unite believes there are still other options to be considered for the pension fund.