By Muvija M
LONDON (Reuters) -The union representing staff at British postal group Royal Mail said on Tuesday it would hold a ballot that could lead to industrial action after the two sides clashed over pay.
Royal Mail, which blamed the Communication Workers Union for threatening its ability to hit profit targets in May, said it had offered a 5.5% pay rise for CWU-grade workers, its biggest increase in years. The CWU rejected the terms, it said.
The step towards postal service strikes comes as Britain's trade unions grapple with employers over pay in the face of surging inflation. Britain's rail network was brought to a near standstill on Tuesday by its biggest strike in 30 years. [L1N2Y808R]
The CWU said the results of the ballot would inform a decision on whether to take industrial action.
"Today we will be serving a notice on Royal Mail Group over a pay claim, our claim for an inflation-based no strings pay award," CWU's deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger said in a video posted on Twitter.
"The company has imposed 2% pay award, miles away from where inflation is, totally inadequate." Inflation, now at 9%, is set to surpass 11% in October, according to the Bank of England.
The result of the ballot will be known by July 19.
"At that point, depending on where we are, we will make a decision as whether we need to take industrial action, and if there has been no movement that is exactly what we will be recommending," he said.
Responding to the CWU decision, Royal Mail said it still hoped to resolve the dispute, with further talks due this week.
"We believe there are no grounds for industrial action", a Royal Mail spokesperson said in a statement.
"We offered a deal worth up to 5.5% for CWU grade colleagues, the biggest increase we have offered for many years, which was rejected by the CWU."
(Reporting by Muvija M; editing by William James and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)