Consignia, Union Work to Avert Postal Strike

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Talks aimed at preventing a postal strike throughout the UK were held yesterday between union leaders and managers of Consignia.

The Communications Workers Union is arguing for a pay rise of 5 percent for 140,000 Royal Mail staff, according to reports. Consignia has offered a 2 percent raise, with 0.5 percent more if service quality targets are met.

The talks come as the union prepares to send ballots to members that call for strike action unless its pay demands are met.

Staff size at the Royal Mail already face huge uncertainty after Consignia discussed a cost-cutting program putting up to 30,000 jobs on the line as part of plan to reduce costs by $1.7 billion by April 2003.

Meanwhile, Consignia appointed Allan Leighton as interim chairman on Jan. 21. Leighton was formerly chief executive of ASDA, a value food and clothing superstore in Britain that became part of the Wal-Mart family in 1999.

Leighton succeeds Neville Bain, chairman of Consignia who stepped down at the end of last year when his contract ran out.

Leighton will stay in the job until a permanent chairman is appointed later this year.

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