Postal strike action averted

The Communication Workers Union was ready to invoke industrial action in the form of a workers strike, which was announced on May 24th. The proposed strike was a reaction to the announcement of mail centre closings in the capital. The CWU threatened a strike of over 3,500 staff members, demanding better job security.

The decision to close mail centres was not one made lightly; the Royal Mail stated that they consulted with trade unions on the matter for 9 months. The 2 week long negotiations between the CWU and Royal Mail has created a guarantee of no forced redundancies whilst changes are made.

Dave Ward, the union’s deputy general secretary, described the two-week negotiations as difficult but said staff in London now had “real choice over their futures”.

“It will mean two out of the seven mail centres within Greater London closing in the summer of 2012, but crucially this will now be done in a way that puts people first,” said Mr Ward.

Royal Mail’s regional operations director for London, Gerry O’Rourke, said: “The union’s support for our plans means that both Royal Mail and the CWU can concentrate on working closely with everyone affected to ensure that colleagues get the very best support and advice through what we know is a difficult and sensitive period.”

The negotiations have brought the likely scenario of around 580 employees leaving with redundancy packages. 670 employees have expressed an interest in taking voluntary redundancy packages.

Back to the future

They say one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure and school bus driver Peter McCraig has apparently struck gold by dusting off a Sinclair C5 to drive to work. The Sinclair C5 was touted as the next step in British motoring way back in 1985 but failed to capture the public imagination. The retro design was an acquired taste shall we say in its heyday but this hasn’t stopped Mr McCraig from busting out the vehicle for his daily commute. After petrol prices hit £1.30 in April, Mr McCraig bought the C5 on eBay for a mere £185. Although its top speed is a relaxed 15mph, the combination of battery and pedal power will save him around £1,300 in petrol a year.

“I have saved around £15 to £25 a week on petrol but I’m also getting myself fit as it’s pedal-powered,’ he said. “It only takes me around 12 minutes to get to work and in the car it would take around ten to 15. The only problem with the C5 is that, being so low down, it can get quite hairy when lorries overtake but I haven’t had any incidents yet.”

He added, “It’s also done wonders for my tan.”

News on the grapevine says Sinclair is back for round two with an updated design; the prototype is called the X-1 and will apparently be out in July. Maybe you’ll see one on a road near you!

Swanning around the M4

This plucky swan played a game of chicken with a lorry on the M4, adding to the considerable tailbacks on Wednesday, just outside of West London.

Apparently the red lorry was the object of the swans attention before it was shooed along by a driver stuck in the rush hour traffic. Swans, famously protected by the Queen, have had a history of appearing on the M4 in the past – although we’ve never seen one!

Car found in a van

On the lighter side of the news, policemen in Bargteheide, Germany, were perplexed and amused in equal measure when they discovered a white van transporting a fully working car!

Konstanty Krol, 38, and Cezar Chmielewski, 28 were caught red handed on their way to their home country of Kazakhstan. With a little help from their friends they were amazingly able to squeeze in the Mazda 626 to the back of their van. Their efforts were given away, however, when policemen pulled them over to check their swaying van.

We still can’t work out how they loaded it in the first place!

Royal Mail privatisation a reality

The privatisation of the Royal Mail could begin as early as this Summer, after proposals that would allow a sell-off were passed by MPs.

Dwindling mail volumes and a fall in profits has meant privatisation has been on the horizon despite protection of the postal service by the current Parliament. Ed Davey, minister for postal affairs, said the proposals “safeguard the future of both Royal Mail and the Post Office – two cornerstones of British life”.

Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, stated, “The fact of the matter is the British public don’t want to see the Royal Mail privatised…Vince Cable is flogging this company to the very people he denounced at the Liberal party conference – the spivs, the speculators and those who just want to make a fast buck.”

At the very least, 8000 jobs are at stake as the CWU has vowed to work with the Royal Mail in cutting at least this number of workers by 2013. It is likely that further cuts will need to be made in the near future.

Have your say on privatisation below.

Ice cream in the Thames

When we look back at man’s greatest achievements, the HMS Flake 99 will surely be one of them. The convenience of the classic ice cream truck has been perfected thanks to the clever people at Cadbury’s. This amphibious truck can traverse both land and sea to deliver much needed confectionery to the public.

The truck has been constructed as part of the UK’s National’s Ice Cream week (which is crying out for a public holiday!) and will apparently make a tour of Britain’s beaches. Let us know if you spot it out and about!