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Royal Mail needs to modernise – but hardball is not way out of dispute

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Strictly speaking, Royal Mail’s management is not saying it is ripping up the nine-year-old deal with the Communication Workers Union that, until strikes in recent weeks, had helped to keep a lid on industrial disputes.

Instead, as the bosses see things, they are exercising the company’s right to give notice of an end to protections within the agreement in the event of nationwide strikes.The distinction could be significant should the CWU go to court.

For now, though, it’s the signal that matters. The message from management is that it is prepared to raise the stakes in a dispute over pay and working practices.

Challenging the “agenda for growth” agreement – or just elements of it – was always a possible next escalation. Now it has happened.The rhetoric, too, has been lifted a few notches.

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