DOZENS of postal staff across the region will go on strike for the fourth time next week as part of an ongoing argument with Post Office chiefs.

About 140 workers at the North East’s Crown Post Offices will strike on Tuesday, May 7, the Communication Workers Union’s (CWU) has announced.

It will be the fourth time union members at the 373 Crown Post Offices across the country have gone on strike amid concerns over closures, franchising and a pay freeze.

Post Office staff voted by nine to one in favour of going on strike and have already taken such action on Easter Saturday , April 19 and April 29.

The CWU is opposed to Post Office plans to close or franchise 76 Crown offices – 20 per cent of the network -which they claim would affect more than 800 jobs, and are also calling for a first pay rise in two years.

Three North East post offices, Chester-le-Street, Redcar and Stockton, are part of the Post Office’s plans for franchising, with the company looking for retail partners to take them on.

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: "Support among our members is growing by the day, with more staff going out on strike on Monday than in previous rounds of action.

"The Post Office's arguments on pay and closures is on fragile ground.

“Their closure and franchising plans are meeting stiff opposition across the country with tens of thousands of names on petitions wanting to protect Crown offices.

"The Post Office's plans on pay and the future of the network are clearly flawed. “We again urge them to enter meaningful negotiations to find a mutually-agreeable way forwards."

The Post Office said it is disappointed by this further call for strike action.

Kevin Gilliland, Network and Sales Director at the Post Office said: “It can only cause further disruption to customers and will not change Post Office plans to bring the Crown network, which is currently losing £40m a year of public money, back into profit.

“Any strike action will only affect three per cent of the Post Office’s 11,800 branches.

“Our plans to partner 70 Crown branches with a retailer will allow us to maintain Post Office services for customers on these high streets whilst reducing spend on public money.”

Crown Post Offices to be affected by the strikes include: Billingham, Chester-le-Street, Consett, Darlington, Durham, Harrogate, Hartlepool, Northallerton, Redcar, South Shields, Sunderland and York.