Strikes hit embassies

Industrial action by postal workers at the Royal Mail has cost diplomatic missions thousands of pounds in undelivered mail.

“The strike has affected our mission considerably for the past few days,” said an official at the Finnish Embassy.

Hundreds of invitations have not reached their destinations in time for diplomatic events leaving embassies no option but to fax, email and phone guests or send out further invitations by courier, adding further to their costs.

“It also looks very unprofessional,” complained one aggrieved attaché. “It’s been very difficult to plan for our catering because we do not know who will be turning up on the day.”

The strikes are also to blame for lower turnout at diplomatic events that have been months in the planning.

Sending confidential documentation has been a headache, since faxing is not a suitable alternative.

Missions have had to resort to costly couriers to deliver high-level correspondence.

Adding to their problems, some embassies have reported that their vehicles have been issued parking fines while attempting to deliver urgent mail.

In addition, a number of institutions, such as Parliament, do not accept hand delivered post because of security concerns.

But the postal strikes will also be felt much further afield than London. The Papua New Guinea High Commission has reported that their orders of crafts and goods to sell at the Commonwealth Fair on 20 October will now not arrive in time.

“It’s a real shame,” said High Commissioner Jean Kekedo. “We doubt whether we will be able to make much money for the education of underprivileged girls and women in Commonwealth countries.”