UK - Royal Mail has criticised plans by its staff to strike over the future of the company pension fund and other employment terms.

Officials at the Communication and Workers Union Postal Executive last week said 130,000 staff would stage the first of further 48-hour strikes on October 5 and 6, over what it understands will lead to the closure of the defined benefits pension scheme.

A statement issued by the CWU said the company has announced "executive action" on their pension proposals, incorrectly implying, according to Royal Mail officials, the company has already decided to make changes to its existing pension arrangements without consulting employees.

Royal Mail is scheduled to communicate its proposals for pension reforms to staff this week and will then enter into a 60-day consultation process from October, but has not made any firm decisions about the future of its pension scheme, according to a Royal Mail spokesperson.

"No decisions have yet 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 going forward," said the spokesperson.

In an open letter to Dave Ward, deputy general secretary of the CWU, Royal Mail last week asked the CWU to set out, among other things, its costed proposals for tackling issues such as the fund's pensions deficit and "the extent to which your proposals will help protect our existing people's pensions and ensure that they and the company are not exposed to extreme future risks that would be unaffordable for all".

Royal Mail announced in February it would be closing the existing scheme - with total assets of £23bn (€33bn) - to new members and opening a defined contribution scheme.

The fund was previously understood to have a £6.6bn deficit