British Postal Regulator Extends Deadline on Competition Plan

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Postcomm, the British postal regulator, said yesterday that it has extended the deadline for comments on its proposal to open the British postal system to competition until April 12.

Consignia, the British postal service, and other organizations originally had until today to comment on the proposal, which would open Consignia to full competition by 2006. Postcomm said the move follows requests from the Communication Workers Union, Consignia and Parliament for more time. Postcomm's decision document now will be issued in May.

Postcomm said Consignia's performance had deteriorated so badly that it faced little choice but to open the postal service to alternative operators.

Consignia has said it would face "death by a thousand cuts" under the plan and revealed that it is already losing $1.4 million a day on letter delivery. Bulk-mail users, however, generally support the regulator's moves to open the postal market to competition.

Meanwhile, the CWU put the 145,000 members who work for Royal Mail on standby yesterday for a possible strike March 27. The union accuses Royal Mail and its parent, Consignia, of reneging on parts of a pay deal it agreed to last week in which basic pay would rise 6.9 percent by April 2003.

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