Christmas post strike lifted

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The threat of a Christmas postal strike was lifted last night following hours of talks between Royal Mail and the unions.

Postal workers had been due to walk out today and on Monday. But the latest planned wave of national stoppages was cancelled after the two sides moved closer to a deal in the row over jobs, pay and pensions.

The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) agreed to a "period of calm" to enable two further months of talks over the company's modernisation plans.

Announcing the agreement, Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: "Royal Mail services will be free of any disruption up to and through the Christmas period. That's what Royal Mail, that's what the CWU want and what both sides are committed to."

Huge backlogs of undelivered mail have built up after previous walk-outs by postal workers, with Royal Mail claiming that 35 million letters were delayed.

* British Airways cabin crew agreed "unwillingly" to work the new schedules brought in by the airline until a full legal test of the dispute next year. The two sides agreed to come back on 1 February.