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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 October 2007, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Postal union urged to accept deal
Striking Royal Mail workers
Workers will vote on the proposals if union leaders back them
Business and Enterprise Secretary John Hutton has urged unions to accept what he said was a "sensible deal" to end the long-running postal dispute.

The Communication Workers' Union's executive will decide on Monday whether to recommend a deal reached on Friday on pay, pension and working practices.

If it does, the agreement will be put to a vote of the CWU's 130,000 members.

Mr Hutton acknowledged weeks of strike action, including wildcat walkouts, had caused "big damage" to Royal Mail.

The CWU's executive committee is due to meet on Monday afternoon to discuss the proposed settlement.

'Sensible deal'

Neither sides in the dispute, which began in June, have commented on the terms of an agreement reached between union leaders and Royal Mail management late on Friday evening.

But the deal is understood to include reform of the company's pension scheme, a pay rise this year of about 2.5% and changes to long-standing working practices.

Business Secretary John Hutton
There is no way Royal Mail is going to be successful unless it reforms and changes and becomes as efficient as some of its competitors
John Hutton, Business and Enterprise Secretary

Mr Hutton said he hoped the dispute, which is estimated to have cost Royal Mail more than 200m, could now be brought to an end.

"This is a sensible deal and everyone is hoping the union will support this on Monday," he said on BBC One's Andrew Marr show.

A series of 48-hour stoppages and unofficial walkouts, which continued on Saturday at delivery offices in London and Liverpool, has brought chaos to the postal network in recent weeks and left a huge backlog of undelivered mail.

Mr Hutton said the dispute had damaged Royal Mail but he backed the firm's management and said the proposed deal would put the business on a more competitive footing.

"There is no way Royal Mail is going to be successful unless it reforms and changes and becomes as efficient as some of its competitors," he said.

'Back to normal'

The union has said Royal Mail's modernisation plans - which include the introduction of more flexible working patterns - could result in the loss of 40,000 jobs.

It has also accused the company of attaching "unacceptable conditions" to its pay offer.

Royal Mail said on Saturday that 98% of its 1,500 sites were now operating normally and urged all its staff to return to work on Monday.

Before Friday's announcement of a tentative deal, Royal Mail had secured a court injunction against further strike action on Monday and Tuesday.



SEE ALSO
Royal Mail and union reach deal
13 Oct 07 |  Business
Brown urges end of postal strikes
10 Oct 07 |  Business
Behind the picket line
04 Oct 07 |  Business
Q&A: Postal strike and you
04 Oct 07 |  Business
What is the postal strike about?
12 Oct 07 |  Business

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