Millions of customers and thousands of businesses across the UK are facing widespread disruption to deliveries and sales ahead of Christmas amid industrial action.
Around 115,000 Royal Mail workers represented by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are currently taking strike action, walking out for 48 hours from Thursday into Black Friday.
Further strikes are planned for November 30, as well as December 1, 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and Christmas Eve.
The walk-outs could see the delivery of purchases made on Cyber Monday (November 28) delayed.
Royal Mail has said that it wants customer services to return to normal “as quickly as possible”.
However, union leaders have accused bosses at the organisation of having adopted an “aggressive” strategy in the dispute.
A “best and final” offer was made by Royal Mail on Wednesday, which they said would mean a 9% pay increase over 18 months for workers.
Murray Lambell, eBay’s UK general manager, warned that industrial action could be the final nail in the coffin for many small businesses.
“The UK boasts one of the world’s most sophisticated e-commerce economies, with small businesses thriving by scaling up their retail operations online,” he said.
“But industrial action risks creating chaos at the worst time for businesses and families.
“Astronomical energy prices, rising interest rates and the blowback from political unrest has made it incredibly challenging for small businesses to operate right now.
“Adding industrial action, which is causing widespread disruption to deliveries and sales, at the most important time of year for trading, risks being the nail in the coffin for many small businesses.”
A CWU spokesperson urged the UK Government to demand that Royal Mail takes a “mature” approach to the dispute.
“Millions of customers and thousands of small businesses rely on the quality services Royal Mail workers provide at Christmas,” they said.
“But Royal Mail bosses are ignoring those responsibilities and ploughing ahead with plans that would wreck the livelihoods of their entire workforce.
“We call on the government, media and all small businesses to demand that Royal Mail takes a mature approach to this dispute.”
The spokesperson explained that strike action will continue until Royal Mail “sees some sense”.
“Thousands of workers aren’t striking at Christmas for fun – they want to reach an agreement,” they said.
“But they won’t be walked all over and have their lives ruined by the reckless, careless behaviour of their employer.
“Until Royal Mail sees some sense, this dispute will carry on.”
Simon Thompson, Royal Mail chief executive, called on the CWU to change its position.
The union held a vote of no confidence in Thompson earlier this week.
“Talks have lasted for seven months and we have made numerous improvements and two pay offers which would now see up to a 9% pay increase over 18 months alongside a host of other enhancements. This is our best and final offer,” said Thompson.
“Negotiations involve give and take, but it appears that the CWU’s approach is just to take.
“We want to reach a deal, but time is running out for the CWU to change their position and avoid further damaging strike action.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country