15,000 postal jobs to be axed

Consignia today announced 15,000 postal workers would lose their jobs as the company tried to recover from crippling daily losses of £1.5 million.

The swingeing cuts - to scale down Consignia's struggling Parcelforce Worldwide business - were immediately condemned by union bosses.

The majority of job losses - 6,700 in total - will come as 50 Parcelforce depots are shut the length and breadth of the UK.

More than 2,500 workers will also be laid off as part of a shake-up of Consignia's transport system, which will see four mail distribution

centres close.

The measures are the first step in Consignia's three-year rescue package to cut costs by £1.2 billion.

But Roger Lyons, general secretary of AMICUS, the union for Post Office Managers, said: "This announcement has come as a body-blow for the thousands of loyal workers in Consignia and we will work tirelessly to ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies.

"Consignia has taken a profitable company and with the implementation of a flawed business strategy has signed the death warrants for thousands of jobs."

Details of the cutbacks were announced by Allan Leighton, confirmed today as chairman of Consignia.

He said: "Consignia is in a perilous position - losing more than £1.5 million every day.

"Parcelforce Worldwide is losing £15 million per month as we have failed to reduce our costs fast enough as business has declined.

"We need to renew our operations and halt the financial losses which put key services at risk."

The measures, which will bring about savings of £460 million, were just the start of far-reaching plans to reverse the company's economic decline, he said.

Parcelforce will now focus solely on next-day and two-day deliveries and will scrap its current three-day plus service. Consignia's own UK parcel delivery service will be transferred to Royal Mail.

As a result, the number of depots which handle three-day deliveries will drop from 101 to 51, reducing overall Parcelforce staff numbers from 11,700 to around 5,000.

More mail will be moved by rail as Consignia also plans to rationalise its transport network.

Bulk mail will be primarily carried throughout the day as Consignia gears up to compete in the new bulk mail open market sector.

Fewer train services will eventually be needed while the number of vehicles operated by Consignia will be cut from the current 40,000 by 2,500.

Mail distribution centres at Swindon, Chelmsford, Plymouth and Cardiff will shut, while a new Midlands distribution hub is to be built to take on the work of three current midland centres, which will also close in time.

The measures have been condemned by union leaders.

Consignia said it hopes 13,000 of the envisaged 15,000 job losses over the next three years would be met through employment elsewhere in the company or through redundancy.

John Roberts, Consignia chief executive, said: "We are talking to our people whose jobs are directly affected in face-to-face meetings throughout today.

"We are determined to offer as many of them as possible a genuine option to stay with the business or take a voluntary package.

"We are also committed to maintaining our ongoing dialogue with the trade unions."

The 15,000 job losses will also be made up of workers laid off under other cost-cutting measures, including axing 1,000 staff working in IT and vehicle maintenance.

More than 2,000 workers will go due to better automation within Royal Mail while reductions in management and sales staff will see a further 1,000 jobs lost.

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