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LONDON (Reuters) - Trade union representatives at Britain's Royal Mail postal service voted unanimously in favor of holding a strike ballot, just months before a planned privatization they strongly oppose.
Staff will hold a strike vote by the end of September unless a new pay deal with Royal Mail can be struck before then, around 500 representatives from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) decided on Thursday, in a vote that could complicate privatization plans.
"CWU is committed to holding serious negotiations with Royal Mail to achieve settlement on these issues, but efforts to date do not bode well," said Dave Ward, deputy general secretary of the CWU.
Britain has said it wants to begin the privatization of the 497 year-old state-owned service by floating a majority stake on the London Stock Exchange this financial year. Workers will be given 10 percent of the company in free shares.
The CWU, which represents most of the firm's 150,000 staff, says the sell-off is unnecessary and fears pay and working conditions will be compromised under private ownership. The union rejected a three-year pay offer from Royal Mail in July.
Royal Mail said it was disappointed that the CWU was planning a strike ballot, adding that negotiations were ongoing and that it considered disruptions to the postal service unhelpful.
Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Elaine Hardcastle