West News Wire: Picket lines have been set up in front of Royal Mail sorting and delivery offices in the UK after employees went on a 48-hour strike over a deteriorating pay dispute.

On Friday, members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) went on strike, disrupting mail delivery services all around the nation.

The two parties conducted talks on Thursday, but there was no indication that anything had changed. As a result, the union plans to intensify industrial action in the following days.

Amid protracted disagreements in other industries, the union said that the walkout by around 115,000 of its members is the largest strike of the year.

In a substantial escalation of the conflict, an additional 19 days of strikes have been announced on various days throughout October and November.

Dave Ward, the CWU’s general secretary, said “this is a significant announcement, but it is one which matches the level of anger our members feel at the way Royal Mail Group has treated them”.

“The chief executive of Royal Mail Group is treating postal workers as if they are stupid. These are the same people that have kept the country connected and returned Royal Mail Group to record profit,” he said.

“Postal workers across the UK now face the fight of their lives to save their jobs and the service they provide to every household and business in the UK. We call on everyone to stand with their local postal worker,” Ward added.

Meanwhile, a Royal Mail spokesman said “the CWU can be in no doubt of the impact its reckless pursuit of 19 days of industrial action has on our weakened financial position and the job security of its members”.

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“Royal Mail is losing 1 million pounds ($1.1m) a day. We operate in a competitive market, and our customers have choices. Continued strike action will force our customers to make those choices sooner rather than later,” the spokesman said.

“Our invitation to enter into talks through Acas remains open. Our people need the CWU leadership to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business, and to engage urgently on the changes required to adapt to customer demands in a highly competitive market,” he added.

“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”

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