Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson to step down, as CWU members prepare to vote on deal

The much-criticised CEO earned just over £750,000 last year

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The embattled CEO of Royal Mail will leave the company, following the high-profile industrial dispute with the Communication Workers Union (CWU).

Simon Thompson, who earned just over £750,000 last year as head of the ailing postal firm, has announced his intention to step down on 31 October, according to parent company International Distribution Services (IDS)

Thompson has been widely criticised in recent months and was even recalled to parliament to give evidence for a second time after he was accused by MPs of being misleading at a first select committee hearing.

It comes as CWU members are preparing to vote on an agreement reached with Royal Mail last month, which could bring the drawn-out dispute to a close after almost a year.

Is Simon Thompson about to leave Royal Mail?

Royal Mail’s parent company IDS announced that Thompson is to step down today (12 May), following widespread speculation that he would be leaving the company.

Thompson’s public image has suffered greatly as a result of the dispute, particularly following two bruising sessions with the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee.

MPs took the highly unusual measure of asking Thompson and other senior Royal Mail staff to take the oath before giving evidence in the second session, after the committee said they felt Thompson had previously misled them about working practices in the company.

Questions have been raised about Thompson’s suitability for the role throughout his tenure, having taken on the top job at Royal Mail just over two years ago.

“I have been incredibly proud to lead Royal Mail during this crucial period in its 507 year history,” Thompson said.

“The changes we have made, the infrastructure we have put in place, and the agreements negotiated with our trade unions mean that Royal Mail now has a chance to compete and grow.

“That is what I have always wanted, and it is now the right time to hand over to a new CEO to deliver the next stage of the company’s reinvention. I would like to thank my team for their support during a difficult and important time of change.”

The CWU, which has been calling for Thompson to resign for some time, tweeted about the news of his departure.

CWU members to vote on deal

Meanwhile, CWU members are set to receive ballots to vote on the deal endorsed by the union next week. Ballots will be dispatched on 17 May, with the results set to be announced on 7 June.

The deal, which sees a number of changes to working conditions and includes a pay offer worth around 9% over three years, has been met with some criticism from workers.

Many members are particularly concerned about changes to start and finish times, with some saying the new system will effectively force workers to carry out unpaid overtime.

It is unclear what further action the union will take if workers vote against the deal. Royal Mail has said the deal represents their final offer. The union did secure backing for further industrial action from workers following a re-ballot in February, leaving open the door for further strikes until August.

If members do vote against the deal, it could be seen as a major failure of the union’s executive, who have endorsed the agreement and are currently in the process of engaging with reps and members, encouraging them to vote in favour of it.

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