Striking posties become more determined than ever as Royal Mail threaten to axe up to 10,000 jobs

postal strike

As the UK’s largest industrial dispute rumbles on, strikers’ determination hardens and pressure grows on discredited bosses…

Some 110,000 postal workers walked out on strike for the sixth time yesterday from units all over the country, in a massive rejection of the latest attacks on terms and conditions by senior Royal Mail leaders – attacks which appear to be rebounding spectacularly on those company chiefs. Every one of the union’s 10 divisions reported bigger pickets, stronger support for the action and a renewed determination to prevail over the destructive agenda being pursued by CEO Simon Thompson and his regime.

Now Royal Mail announced they are consulting on a programme of job cuts which is expected to see around 10,000 full-time roles axed by August next year.

The company said it has started the process of consulting over “rightsizing the business in response to the impact of industrial action, delays in delivering agreed productivity improvements and lower parcel volumes”.

The postal company said it will begin notifying workers of its plan, which includes up to 6,000 redundancies.

Apart from the redundancies, the firm will cut roles through natural attrition, for example by not replacing workers who leave.

Royal Mail also claims it expects its full-year losses to hit £350m.

It said this included “the direct impact of eight days of industrial action” as well as lower volumes of parcels being posted.

But the firm warned that losses could reach as much as £450m “if customers move volume away for longer periods” following strike action.

On Thursday, Royal Mail workers held the first of 19 days of planned industrial action including Black Friday week and Cyber Monday, as well as 20 and 25 October, and 28 November.

Letters will not be delivered and some parcels will be delayed, the company warned.

The CWU’s general secretary, Dave Ward, said Royal Mail’s announcement “is the result of gross mismanagement and a failed business agenda of ending daily deliveries, a wholesale levelling-down of the terms, pay and conditions of postal workers, and turning Royal Mail into a gig economy style parcel courier”.

But Mr Thompson said on Friday: “Each strike day weakens our financial situation.

“The CWU’s decision to choose damaging strike action over resolution regrettably increases the risk of further headcount reductions.”

Royal Mail said that if workers go ahead with further walk-outs “the loss for the full year would increase materially and may necessitate further operational restructuring and headcount reduction”.

During the first half of its financial year, Royal Mail said strike action cost the business £70m, leading to an operating loss of £219m compared to a £235m profit last year.

But Mr Ward responded: “This announcement is holding postal workers to ransom for taking legal industrial action against a business approach that is not in the interests of workers, customers or the future of Royal Mail. This is no way to build a company.”

Royal Mail full year profits up, revenues steady

In its financial statement for 2021-22, Royal Mail reports group revenues up by 0.6% to £12.712 billion and adjusted operating profit up by 8% to £758 million.

Among the divisions, Royal Mail’s domestic operations saw profits up by 20.9% to £416 million though revenues fell by 1.6% to £8.514 billion. Its international operation GLS saw profits up by 4.4% to £4.219 billion, though operating profits fell 4.5% to £342 million.

Excluding international volumes, parcel volumes grew 31% compared to pre-pandemic levels, though they were down 7% year on year. Addressed letter volumes actually grew by 3% year on year, though they were down 18% compared to 2019’s pre-pandemic levels. GLS’s parcel volumes grew steadily by 4%, led in part by a growth in B2B volumes.

Simon Thompson, Chief Executive, Royal Mail said: “It has been a year of progress, but there is much more to do. Over 50% of parcels are now processed automatically, the delivery of two new parcel hubs are on track, and we are reinventing our services and digital experiences to make sending and receiving even easier in an online age.

“But as we emerge from the pandemic, the need to accelerate the transformation of our business – particularly in delivery – has become more urgent. Our future is as a parcels business, so we need to adapt old ways of working designed for letters and do it much more quickly to a world increasingly dominated by parcels.


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