Royal Mail has announced plans to make up to 6,000 workers redundant by next August, blaming the job cuts on ongoing strike action and rising losses at the business.
The postal company said it is consulting on the programme of job cuts which is expected to see around 10,000 full-time roles axed in total.
Royal Mail 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”.
It said it is seeking short-term cost efficiencies through the planned reduction of 5,000 full-time equivalent roles by March and around 10,000 by August. This is expected to require up to 6,000 redundancies by August.
The news comes amid a warning by parent group International Distributions Services that Royal Mail is expected to tumble to a £350 million operating loss for the year after being hit by industrial action.
Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson said: “This is a very sad day. I regret that we are announcing these job losses. We will do all we can to avoid compulsory redundancies and support everyone affected.
“We have announced today losses of £219 million in the first half of the year. 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.”
More strike action to come
Postal workers staged fresh strikes this week in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions and a series of walkouts are planned for the coming weeks.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said its 115,000 members across the UK will be taking action, describing it as the largest strike in a year that has seen industrial unrest across several industries, including rail.
The CWU announced that the strike action in October and November will be a mixture of single days and rolling action across Royal Mail Group’s network.
The union said: “The CWU has communicated they intend to take one day of national strike action on Monday 28 November and then a series of strikes which if they take place, would affect different parts of our operational and administrative network on different days.”
The website additionally lists a number of potential strike dates that will impact operations between 2 November and 2 December, which includes:
- Network and National Distribution: 2, 8, 14, 23, 30 November
- Parcel and letter processing and distribution, Royal Mail international parcel and letter services, and collections (customer, Post Office, postbox): 3, 9, 15, 24 November and 1 December
- Parcel and letter deliveries: 4, 10, 16, 25 November and 2 December
The union has accused the Royal Mail of planning structural change, which would effectively see employees in secure, well-paid jobs turned into a “casualised, financially precarious workforce overnight”.
The CWU said plans include delaying the arrival of post to members of the public by three hours, cuts in workers’ sick pay and inferior terms for new employees.
The union has also announced 19 further days of strike action in the build up to the busy Christmas period.
General secretary Dave Ward said: “Postal workers face the biggest ever assault on their jobs, terms and conditions in the history of Royal Mail. The public and businesses also face the end of daily deliveries and destruction of the special relationship that postal workers and the public have in every community in the UK.
“It is insulting the intelligence of every postal worker for Royal Mail chief executive Simon Thompson to claim that their change agenda is ‘modernisation’. It is nothing more than an asset stripping business plan that will see the break-up of the company and the end of Royal Mail as a major contributor to the UK economy.
“Royal Mail Group claim to be losing £1 million a day. The CWU believe these figures need to be scrutinised.”