Employment relations minister Pat McFadden has rejected trade union calls for the government to play a bigger role in solving the Royal Mail dispute.
McFadden said he was in regular contact with both union bosses and management but that it was for them to reach an agreement to end industrial action.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) yesterday confirmed fresh strikes for next week after talks broke down. Many postal workers have not been to work since Thursday as the dispute over pay, pensions and flexibility rumbles on.
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes yesterday accused the government of failing to stop the strikes. He said it was allowing Royal Mail bosses to waste £2bn of public money it gave them earlier this year to help avoid industrial action.
But McFadden told Personnel Today: “The government put up about £2bn in finance to support the pension fund. It is then for management and unions to negotiate on issues of pension, pay and flexibility.
“There are very active negotiations going on, and I keep in touch with both sides on a regular basis.”
Hayes added: “Secretary of state for business and enterprise John Hutton is the invisible man in this dispute. The minister’s absence is encouraging the wreckers at the head of the company who have no public service values.”
But a government spokesman insisted that Hutton was directly in touch with both sides, and that he also believed it was up to unions and management to reach an agreement.