Ulster postal workers are planning two rounds of 48 hour strike action this week, it has emerged, as the dispute over pay and conditions rumbles on.
A total of 130,000 employees will walk out for 48 hours at the start of all shifts between 12pm on Thursday, October 4 and 12pm on Saturday, October 6.
There will be a second strike lasting 48 hours with postal workers walking out on shifts starting between 3am on Monday, October 8 and 3am on Wednesday, October 10.
Industrial action will cover all duties, scheduled attendance and overtime of every postal worker for two 48 hour periods.
The move comes after Communications Workers Union leadership confirmed that it is still seeking an agreement with Royal Mail management over pay and changes to the business.
Talks were held over the weekend. Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said the strikes were a direct response to Royal Mail inaction in the last month.
"Despite five weeks of negotiations, Royal Mail have failed to take on board the union's message that in order for the business to succeed Royal Mail need to invest in their workforce," he said.
Lawrence Huston, CWU regional secretary, added: "Our members are angry and frustrated at the lack of progress by Royal Mail on this issue. However, the union remains committed to reaching an agreement which benefits the business and employees and will continue talking to management."
Royal Mail today condemned the decision by the CWU to call further strikes.
"The decision comes after five weeks of discussions, under the auspices of the TUC and Acas, to try to resolve the issues that lie behind the dispute," said a statement. It also criticised the CWU for " failing during seven months of talks to produce any serious proposals that could help resolve the issues that lie between us and move the business forward".
It added: "We have been negotiating with the CWU over pay and flexibility since March 2007 and, as a result of the CWU decision to return to strike action, we will now begin to make the changes that we have been discussing with the union and our people for many months. As ever, we remain willing to meet with the union at any time."