Royal Mail workers have overwhelmingly voted to strike in a dispute over pay.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) will take industrial action after more than 97% of those balloted backed moves against an imposed 2% pay offer.
The union, which represents more than 115,000 workers across the country, says its members face a real-terms wage cut of 9% amid soaring rates of inflation.
A turnout of around 77% cast their vote after papers were sent out last month.
Delegates at the union’s annual conference in April voted to declare the start of a national pay dispute in early May if a “straight, no strings” pay increase failed to materialise.
The Royal Mail has defended its response, having said it offered the “biggest increase” for many years.
General secretary Dave Ward said there will now be a “small window” of opportunity for talks to avoid walkouts before strike dates are set.
He added: “This stunning result is a vote of no confidence in Royal Mail’s chief executive and board, who should seriously consider their futures in our industry.
“Crucially, the vote can leave no doubt that postal workers are united, and that they are demanding the proper pay rise they deserve.
“While bosses rake in £758 million in profit and shareholders take £400 million, workers are expected to take a serious real-terms pay cut.
“Postal workers won’t accept their living standards being hammered by bosses who are typical of business leaders today – overpaid, underqualified, out of their depth.
“In our country right now, corporate failure gets rewarded over and over again.
“It’s pathetic that CEOs take home lottery win salaries then offer real-terms pay cuts to people who made them their profit.
“The CWU’s message to Royal Mail’s leadership is loud and clear – not a single postal worker in this country will budge until you get serious and give them a dignified, proper pay rise.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said they were “disappointed” at the outcome, but added “contingency plans” were in place.
They said: “We offered a deal worth up to 5.5% for CWU grade colleagues, the biggest increase we have offered for many years, which the CWU rejected. We can only fund this offer by making the changes that will pay for it and ensure Royal Mail can grow and remain competitive in a fast-moving industry.
“Despite nearly three months of talks, the CWU have not engaged in any meaningful discussion on the changes we need to make to adapt.
“In the event of industrial action, we have contingency plans to minimise customer disruption and will work to keep people, businesses and the country connected.”