THE DTI IS CURRENTLY studying a plan to offer the Post Office's 190,000 employees up to 49 per cent of the business. The idea is one of several already evaluated by government ministers within the wider context of granting the PO greater commercial freedom. The 'stakeholder' concept has the support of senior PO managers who believe it would improve industrial relations and minimise the threat of future strikes - another period of disruption over the thorny issue of US-style teamworking is threatened for this autumn.

Repair of 'poor industrial relations' within the PO is an evident priority for New Labour. Ian McCartney, Industry Minister with responsibility for the Post Office says employer and employees 'must come together with a common approach and a common objective'. The share-ownership option, which would give all em-ployees a direct stake in the business and a share of its profits, has already moved to a second stage of evaluation by senior DTI officials.