THE BBC has been criticised by a trade union for “peddling the company line” during an interview on potential strike action by workers in the Royal Mail.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is threatening to strike over a dispute concerning pay and changes in strategy and culture within the Royal Mail.

Talks between Royal Mail bosses and the union collapsed earlier this week, with strikes planned for next week and the run-up to Christmas if an agreement cannot be reached.

However, during an interview on BBC News general secretary of the CWU Dave Ward hit back after presenter Tim Willcox said the dispute would “ruin Christmas”.

The BBC journalist began the interview by framing the dispute as strictly being about how much Royal Mail workers are paid.

He said: “It’s been announced that Royal Mail workers are to stage six fresh strikes next month including on Christmas eve in their long-running dispute over pay.

“This is going to ruin Christmas, Christmas cards, Christmas presents for millions of people, isn’t it?”

But Ward said that the journalist’s framing of the strike did not accurately reflect the workers reasons for taking industrial action.

“Let me first of all correct you,” said Ward. “It’s actually a dispute about change.

“Postal workers up and down the UK, 120,000 of them, are facing the biggest ever attack on jobs terms and conditions and the services that we provide to the public.

“And what I’d say to your viewers tonight is that you really need to take notice of what’s going on here.”

Willcox then interrupted Ward to insist that the dispute was at least partly about pay.

He said: “The company would argue, wouldn’t it, that your industrial action is costing it millions – a million pounds a day – and that this is not the way to actually reach any settlement with the workers because the company simply won’t be able to survive if it carries on like this.”

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Yet, Ward once again pushed back against the presenter’s line of questioning.

“You’re wrong again, I’m sorry,” said Ward. “If you research your facts, what’s cost the company a huge amount in finances is them giving away over £567 million of a £758 million profit to shareholders.”

Willcox then said that he was simply “putting the company line” to the general secretary – a fact which Ward said had been too often repeated during interviews with the media.

“Well, you should be putting my line to the company. There’s too many of these interviews where you just put the questions that the company give to you.

“And I’m saying that the company are not acting with integrity, they’re not telling the truth.

“This about major shareholders fighting over the future of the Royal Mail group and our members are paying the price for the huge mistakes made by the CEO and the board.”

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The car crash interview continued as Willcox questioned Ward about whether the CWU would enter talks with Royal Mail bosses alongside the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), despite the fact the CWU is already engaging with ACAS.

Willcox said that he had “just been reading what the company have said.”

In the wake of the interview the CWU tweeted that the BBC “peddled the company line on Royal Mail strikes.”

The CWU has said it is willing to engage in talks with the Royal Mail right up until strike action takes place to try and settle the dispute.

Strikes are currently planned for November 24, 25, and 30 and December 1, 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24.

It comes in the wake of the BBC receiving more than 2000 complains over “bias in favour of the Conservatives” in one of its news programmes, beating the year’s previous complaint record of 700.