7 Days

Consignia job cuts Consignia, the rebranded Post Office, is set to slash 20 per cent of its workforce (40,000 workers) over the next three years. Three thousand urban post offices are also due to close and the company is likely to be renamed as the Royal Mail, in a major shake-up to cut costs and prepare for increased competition.

Teachers' super-union merger Leaders of the three main teachers' unions - the NUT, NASUWT and ATL - are to discuss merging into a 500,000-strong super-union, which would be the fifth-largest union in Britain, to increase lobbying power with the government over pay and conditions.

IRA disarmament "possibility" Sir Ronnie Flanagan, chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said that a second phase of IRA weapons decommissioning was a "real possibility". Speculation had already been mounting that the IRA would agree to a follow-up of last October's ground-breaking disarmament. Flanagan said the move would be "a very positive step forward".

Quake kills hundreds More than 1,500 were feared dead after an earthquake shook northern Afghanistan and north-west Pakistan. Five villages were destroyed and 200 houses were damaged in the Nahrin region, 90 miles north of Kabul.

Arafat trapped The US stepped up pressure on Israel to allow the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, to attend the crucial Arab summit in Beirut, where Arab leaders will debate the peace plan initiated by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah.

Ted Peacock retires Ted Peacock, the New Statesman's accountant and our longest-serving staff member, retired after 49 years. Peacock joined the NS aged 16 in 1953, but was called up for national service with the RAF in 1956, where he served for two years. Peacock returned and worked in the accountancy department.

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