Hope grows for end to Welsh mail strike

Click to follow
The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A MAIL strike in Wales that is threatening to tip many medium-sized and small companies into liquidation may be resolved following yesterday's decision by the Union of Communication Workers to ballot members on a settlement with the Royal Mail.

There will be a general meeting of the Cardiff branch of the UCW today and the full membership will vote on the settlement tomorrow.

A spokesman for the Royal Mail welcomed the UCW's move last night.

The 12-day-old dispute centres on new working procedures introduced by the Royal Mail.

A speedy resolution could save many businesses. A spokesman for Touche Ross in Cardiff warned last week that the strike by 900 postal workers in the city 'could push companies which are already in their bankers' lifeboat over the edge'.

He said he had spoken to several businesses that were suffering serious cash-flow strains, and that for some businesses, such as mail-order firms, the strike could be catastrophic.

The accountant also warned that unscrupulous businessmen were taking advantage. 'There is a lot of confusion about what is and isn't in the post.'

Graham Hall, chief executive of the Wales Chamber of Commerce, said that companies would be laying people off unless the talks between the two sides bore fruit.

LH Evans, an electrical wholesaler in Cardiff, was considering laying off 10 people unless there was a solution soon, Mr Hall said.

Deliveries are affected in central Cardiff, but collections are hit as far as Bridgend to the west, Chepstow in the east and Brecon to the north. 'One of the problems is that 90 per cent of our companies' customers in the rest of the country have no idea this strike is happening,' Mr Hall said. 'They are still sending in orders which are not going to be met.'

Companies were being squeezed by a lack of cheques coming in and uninterrupted demands for payment. There were also legal implications. Solicitors sending County Court notices from outside the area, for instance, could claim that merely posting the letter was proof of having served the notice.