LONDON - Workers for Britain’s Royal Mail approved a nationwide strike yesterday after months of rolling regional strikes over pay and job security that have caused a massive backlog of undelivered letters and packages.
The series of localized halts in pickup and delivery across the country have played havoc with business and personal deliveries. One of Royal Mail’s biggest customers, the online retailer
The Communication Workers Union said 76 percent of more than 80,000 members voted in favor of the action. The union must give seven days’ notice before any strike, and Dave Ward, the deputy general secretary, said there was still a chance to reach an agreement that would avert a work stoppage.
Business leaders warned that more disruption in deliveries will harm Britain’s economy.
“Just when business was looking for the green shoots of recovery, the postal workers ballot threatens to stamp on them,’’ said Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, a business group.
The union and the mail service disagree over how best to modernize the operation. The union says the dispute has led to unfair job cuts and increases in workloads.
Mark Higson, Royal Mail’s managing director, said changes had been made in response to falling volumes of mail.
Letter volumes were falling by 10 percent a year as people switched to other forms of communication such as e-mail and texting, Higson said, and Royal Mail faces competition from other carriers for parcel delivery.
Tony Young, the postal affairs minister, said strikes would further undermine Royal Mail.