Royal Mail said it did not recognise the figures Unite claimed were being cut from its delivery work and questioned why it was balloting for strike action after its restructure was completed.

The union warned that letter and parcel delivery “chaos” was on the cards after it claimed Royal Mail was planning to remove 542 frontline delivery managers.

Unite said it would now ballot around 2,400 managers across the business for strike action between 6 and 29 June and accused the company of being “awash with cash”.

It said 450 jobs had already been cut and claimed Royal Mail bosses were refusing to row back from their demand for 542 further jobs to go, as well as undermining agreed existing pay arrangements and it urged the company to get off “this ruinous path”.

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But Royal Mail told it did not know where the union had got its numbers from and that the 900 odd roles it referred to did not tally.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We are disappointed that Unite have informed us of their intention to ballot operational managers when the lengthy consultation on these changes has concluded, and the restructure is complete.

“We committed to protect pay for all managers who will stay with Royal Mail and the vast majority will see an increase in their earnings.

“As part of an extended consultation period, we gave managers the option to request voluntary redundancy with a package of up to two years’ salary and this was over-subscribed.”

The spokesman added: “This ballot is not an announcement of industrial action and we will continue to engage with Unite as we have throughout the process.”