A mediator has been appointed for crucial talks aimed at averting a strike by Royal Mail workers in a dispute over pay, pensions and other issues.
Professor Lynette Harris, a member of a panel of independent arbitrators at the conciliation service Acas, will mediate between the Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
A planned 48-hour strike by the union last week was halted after the Royal Mail took legal action.
Royal Mail said it was pleased to be entering a new phase of talks, which will be led by its chief executive Moya Greene.
“Our priority is to reach agreement with the CWU. We are committed to using the mediation process to do just that.
“Mediation will bring both parties together, with a third party, to seek the right outcome for employees, customers and the business.
“In total, the procedures allow seven weeks for negotiations from the appointment of a mediator.
“If we do not reach agreement, the union is required by law to give a minimum of two weeks’ notice of any industrial action after mediation has finished.
“This means that the process will take close to Christmas to be completed, and may be longer.
“Given the complexity of the issues under discussion and the shared appetite to reach agreement, we anticipate that discussions could be extended to facilitate an agreement,” said a statement.