Post strike to spoil Blair's week

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The Independent Online

Postmen and women are determined to cause maximum embarrassment to Tony Blair by planning strike action to coincide with the Labour Party conference.

If no pay deal is agreed, industrial action is likely to follow soon after a strike ballot closes on Wednesday, in time for the annual gathering in Bournemouth. The Communication Workers' Union says its 160,000 members are likely to favour industrial action.

And, though the union would not confirm that the strike had been planned to scupper the conference, sources said: "Planned or not, it is very fortuitous.

"The union is now going to turn its campaign to ... low pay in the public sector, which is going to cause maximum problems at the Labour Party conference," a union source said.

Royal Mail has offered a 3 per cent rise next month, followed by a 1.5 per cent increase in spring, with another 9.5 per cent available if productivity targets are met. The union wants 8 per cent. The company lost £611m last year and, despite acknowledging that some of that went to pay for redundancies, said losses still justified job cuts.