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The next wave of post strikes has been called off to allow talks; Sky is facing scrutiny over its takeover of Amstrad; and there is a bid to find peace in the Remploy factories closures row.

A fresh wave of strikes by postal workers was called off today to allow new peace talks to be held.

Workers in mail centres and airports were due to walk out for 24 hours from 7pm, followed by action from different groups of employees, including delivery staff, which would have continued to hit Royal Mail services.

Members of the Communication Workers Union have been taking action for weeks after rejecting a 2.5% pay offer and warning that the Royal Mail’s modernisation plans will lead to the loss of up to 40,000 jobs.

The action was suspended following a meeting today between Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton and chief executive Adam Crozier and Billy Hayes and Dave Ward, leaders of the CWU.

Talks will now be held on all the issues at the centre of the dispute, with a view to reaching a deal by September 4.

BSkyB faced more regulatory scrutiny today after the City watchdog said it would investigate the broadcaster’s £125 million takeover of Sir Alan Sugar’s Amstrad.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will look at the deal due to the close relationship between the firms, with Amstrad already supplying 30% of Sky’s set-top boxes.

The OFT said it will consider whether the deal results in a ``substantial lessening of competition“. It has the power to refer the deal to the Competition Commission for a full probe.

The Competition Commission is already looking into Sky’s 17.9% holding in ITV after the Office of Fair Trading and Ofcom said the stake raised ``significant“ competition and public interest concerns.

A bid to resolve a bitter row over plans to close factories employing disabled workers – including a number in the North - was announced today.

Remploy said it had agreed to extend a period of consultation over moves to close 43 of its factories, with the loss of 2,500 jobs.

At the same time, former union official Roger Poole was appointed to chair consultation meetings between the company and trade unions representing the workers.

Both sides said after a meeting today that they were committed to achieving a negotiated settlement to the row.

Unions have warned of industrial action to prevent the factory closures.

The FTSE Mid-250 index closed down 242.9 at 11212.1.

At 5pm the pound was up 0.0048 against the Euro at 1.4798 compared with 1.4750 previously. The pound was down 0.0095 against the dollar at 2.0269 compared with 2.0364 previously. The trade weighted index was up 0.10 at 105.00.


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