Postal union leaders postpone decision

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Hopes rose of an end to the postal dispute after union leaders decided to postpone a decision on future industrial action. The decision came after management claimed that "record" numbers of employees turned up for work during the eighth 24-hour stoppage yesterday by the Communication Workers' Union. The union is understood to have come close on Saturday to ordering a ballot on the latest offer from the Royal Mail after pressure from the Labour Party leadership.

The postal executive of the union was due to meet today to take a decision on fresh disruption, but will now decide on Thursday, following an assessment of the mood of the membership. A month-long suspension of the Royal Mail's monopoly on delivering letters is also due to expire on Thursday. Ministers have warned that more industrial action will mean a further three-month suspension. Barrie Clement