British Postal Strike Averted

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The union representing British postal workers called off a strike threat on Friday after reaching an agreement to reduce the size of the workforce through voluntary retirement rather than layoffs.

"Any job losses will be dealt with through collective bargaining and on a voluntary basis,'' said John Keggie, deputy general secretary of the union.

The Communication Workers Union had threatened to strike next year if Consignia, the public company that runs the British post office, went through with plans to eliminate the jobs over the next 18 months.

There had been reports that Consignia planned to eliminate as many as 30,000 jobs, though John Roberts, Consignia's director general, said last week that the 30,000 figure was speculative.

Consignia was incorporated in March as a government-owned public company that could borrow, invest and take part in joint ventures. It reported a fourfold increase in operating losses to $143 million in the first half of the year.

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