Royal Mail could make 5,000 to 6,000 people redundant by the end of August next year if industry action continues, as the company faces rising losses.
In an unscheduled trading update posted today [14 October] Royal Mail’s parent company International Distributions Services said thousands of roles would have to go because of damage and disruption caused by industrial action, as well as declining parcel volumes.
The Communications Workers Union (CWU) announced in September that its Royal Mail members will walk out over 19 days in the peak postal period covering Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the general run-up to Christmas, as they continue to dispute pay and terms.
There had been previous industrial action on 26 August, 31 August, 08 September and 09 September as the CWU called for a “dignified, proper pay rise”.
International Distributions Services called for further industrial action to be called off in its statement: “Royal Mail urges CWU to immediately call off planned strike action and embrace our offer of Acas talks to urgently find a resolution to the current dispute”.
The postal service expects operating losses of around £350m in the year to end of March, which could rise to £450m if customers turn to rivals firms because of the disruptions to its delivery services.
The statement continues: “We will be starting the process of consulting on rightsizing the business in response to the impact of industrial action, delays in delivering agreed productivity improvements and lower parcel volumes.”
“Wherever possible, we will look to achieve FTE rightsizing through reductions in overtime, temporary staff and natural attrition.”
The company currently employs 140,000 people. Royal Mail’s chief executive Simon Thompson said that the company regrets having to announce job loses, describing it as a “very sad day”. He promised to “do all we can to avoid compulsory redundancies and support everyone affected”.