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Britain Hit by First Postal Strike in 11 Years Over Pay, Jobs

British postal staff went on their first national strike in more than a decade today in a row over pay and government plans to cut thousands of jobs at the semi-privatized Royal Mail.

The walk-out, which union bosses said would be carried out by up to 130,000 workers, could be followed by further strike action against the Royal Mail in July if workers' demands are not met, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said.

"We have not named any new strikes for seven days and we want the Royal Mail to use that window of opportunity for fresh and meaningful talks; otherwise there will be a continued series of postal strikes," CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said in a statement released Friday.

The CWU has rejected a 2.5% pay increase and warned that Royal Mail's modernization plans would lead to a cut in postal services and the loss of 40,000 jobs.

Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier said the company would do all it could to mitigate the impact of strike action.

Royal Mail recently lost a contract with online retailer Amazon.com worth 8 million pounds ($16 million) because it had failed to modernize, Crozier noted.

Last month the British government said it would shut about 2,500 post offices over the next two years, or almost one-fifth of the total network, citing rapid growth of e-mail and the Internet.

Losses at the postal network have swelled to 4 million pounds ($8 million) per week, twice the amount of two years ago.

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