Postal strike looms over Consignia's £1bn sell-off

Workers at Consignia are threatening to stage a national postal strike over a £1bn plan to sell part of its facilities department to construction group Balfour Beatty.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is this weekend preparing to ballot its 180,000 Consignia members over industrial action that could lead to a series of one- day walkouts next month.

The decision ends a week's exhaustive negotiations with Consignia management over plans to transfer 7,000 postal workers to a proposed new company, 49 per cent owned by Balfour Beatty. Insiders said that despite Consignia offering to delay the deal until September to allow further talks, CWU representatives believed the terms offered to staff were insufficient.

The news adds to a new wave of union activism sweeping Britain. On top of a potential postal strike, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is planning to launch a major campaign on executive pay, starting at Vodafone's annual general meeting a week on Wednesday.

If CWU members vote to strike, it will bring the postal system to a halt, as 90 per cent of Consignia employees are union members. It would be a considerable blow to Allan Leighton, Consignia's chairman, who is desperate to restore to harmony to the troubled group.

A Consignia spokesman said: "We are keen to finalise things with Balfour Beatty. This really is a Rolls-Royce deal for the company and employees. We have built into the deal a high degree of personal protection for the employees – continued union representation and retention of the Consignia pension plan." However, the CWU wants assurances that Consignia won't sell its stake in the new joint company, known as Romec, to Balfour Beatty for at least seven years.

The CWU believes a sale would affect its members' rights to stay in the Consignia pension scheme. It also wants guarantees that should Romec make any redundancies then its members would be offered alternative employment within Consignia. It is understood that in a letter to be sent this week to its members urging them to vote for strike action, the union will say that staff are being "herded" into a joint venture and treated as though they were "office furniture".

Meanwhile, Vodafone is set to face the wrath of the TUC at its 31 July AGM. The union body is urging its 630 pension trustee members to vote against Vodafone's remuneration policy. The TUC wants its trustees to follow the guidance produced by corporate governance consultancy Pirc, which says performance targets set for Vodafone chief executive Sir Christopher Gent are too low.

The TUC's trustees wield considerable power, controlling £260bn of funds, around a third of Britain's occupational pension funds.

Tom Powdrill, the TUC's institutional investment officer, said: "This vote is the first serious test for the Government's plans to hold directors to account for executive excess." The TUC was planning to make two more protests on executive pay this year, he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...

Guru Careers: FX Trader / Risk Manager

Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (Freelance) : Guru Careers: An Investment Writer / Stock Picker is...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue