UK post, rail workers walk out in Christmas strikes

LONDON: British postal workers began what could become the longest strike in the Post Office’s 300-year history on Monday as part of a wave of industrial action that is also threatening Christmas travel chaos.
Thousands of members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are planning to strike for five days in protest at job losses and pension changes, upping the pressure on Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May.
The CWU said around 3,500 workers would be striking, hitting hundreds of post offices at the busiest time of the year for Britain’s postal service.
A further 1,000 Royal Mail delivery staff could take unofficial industrial action by refusing to cross the picket lines at post offices although Royal Mail said it was expecting “little or no impact” from strikes.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Southern Railway have also said they will strike on Monday and Tuesday in a long-running labour dispute that has affected 300,000 passengers for months.
British Airways cabin crew are also holding talks on Monday aimed at averting strikes on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, while Swissport baggage handlers are planning walkouts on Friday and Saturday.
May is facing calls from members of her own Conservative Party to intervene and tighten legislation to prevent rail strikes.
“Any change to union laws would not be able to solve the current disputes,” a Downing Street source was quoted by The Guardian newspaper as saying.
“They will be solved by mediation and we would urge the unions to get round the table.” — AFP