Post Office reps and branch secretaries from across the UK will be meeting in central London next Monday to decide their response to management’s latest attack on members’ jobs.
Over 500 people working in Post Office Supply Chain – delivering cash and valuables to post offices and other businesses, as well as those processing cash – are threatened with the axe, after this morning’s shock announcement by the company’s chief executive Paula Vennells.
The cutbacks amount to some 50 per cent of the entire supply chain workforce, explained CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey, who notes that, taken together with the controversial Crown Office franchising programme, “over 1,000 jobs are being slashed by the Post Office, which is quite astonishing.
“The Supply Chain job cuts have come as a direct result of the Post Office announcing they’re voluntarily pulling out of external CViT work – which is an almost unbelievably bad business decision.”
Separated from Royal Mail by the 2011 Postal Services Act, the Post Office here in the UK is the only one in the world which has been separated from the national mail delivery service and the CWU maintains that this decision has greatly damaged the network’s viability.
CWU acting DGSP Ray Ellis said: “There’s no doubt that separation has hit both the Crown office counters and the cash in transit operations hard, but Post Office management have also completely failed to develop either of these functions as successful businesses.”
Next Monday’s meeting will consider all options in order to hammer out a strategy to defend members’ jobs and to put forward a positive future strategy for the business.
General secretary Dave Ward said: “With this latest round of job losses, the management of the Post Office has to face the facts that it is in crisis and heading for ruin. If they care about the future of the network they should resign in protest at the straight-jacket government cuts have left them in.
“The Post Office was split from Royal Mail in 2012 in the run-up to privatisation and we are yet to see a plan that will secure its future. With a cut in its funding from £210m in 2013, to zero in 2019, these job losses show that under Sajid Javid’s leadership the Post Office is heading the same way as the steel industry.”
Brian Scott, the Unite union’s national officer for Post Office managerial grades, said that the company’s proposals would “tear the heart out of the Post Office.”
The 79 redundancies of Unite members announced today would “take the total number of proposed job losses to 130 in the last two weeks,” he added.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has argued for the Royal Mail to be brought back into public ownership and warned that the Post Office is under increasing threat.
He won loud applause from delegates at the annual conference of the Communication Workers Union with a passionate defence of keeping post offices open and defending the universal postal service.
“The best thing would be for Royal Mail and the Post Office to be brought back together in public ownership, not the system of ownership we have at present.”
Mr Corbyn said the Post Office seemed to be under increasing threat, as more branches were franchised, hitting rural communities and access to services for older people as well as terms and conditions of workers.
Postal workers were the “lifeblood” of communities, regarded as a friend, he said, adding: Ïf we lose it and it breaks up and have fewer High Street post offices, we have lost something that pioneers fought for.
Starship Technologies, a company launched by the former co-founders of Skype, is announcing today that the UK will be the first major country to host trials of its revolutionary self-driving delivery robots, starting in Greenwich, London.
Throughout the next six months, the robots will be visiting towns and cities in all four nations of the UK, culminating with launch of pilot delivery services later this year.
The six wheeled intelligent robot will make its debut in Greenwich after talks with the local authority led to a partnership with the firm, which means that Greenwich will be the first location in the UK to experience the revolutionary delivery system. First launched in November 2015, the robot is designed for local delivery of goods and groceries for consumers for under £1 per shipment. The robots use pavements like pedestrians, travelling at slow speeds and with zero emissions. The public introduction program aims to demonstrate how easily the friendly curbside robots can integrate into human life.
The UK has been chosen for this work because of the Government’s clear commitment to autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, making the country a world leader in this new and ground-breaking technology.
“Our robots are a totally new class of devices that will provide a combination of low cost and convenience with less congested streets and zero emissions,” said Ahti Heinla, CEO, Starship Technologies. “The robot has been in development for almost two years, and we’ve experienced unprecedented levels of interest and goodwill – so it’s great to now be taking the first step to rolling our little robot out for real. The robot has been very well-received by pedestrians in all of the interactions we’ve seen so far, so it’s very exciting to be officially introducing the robot to the British public.”
“I am delighted that The Royal Borough of Greenwich has been chosen as the first location in the UK to trial this revolutionary delivery system, and that Starship Technologies has chosen to base their UK offices in Greenwich” said Denise Hyland, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. “This technology has the potential to transform the local delivery of goods and groceries. The trial complements the work being undertaken by the Royal Borough of Greenwich on smart city innovation – work that we believe will be significant for all cities in the future.”
Starship Technologies is planning to launch similar testing programmes in the United States in April and plans to unveil the first pilot services in cooperation with its service partners in the UK later this year.
2016 commemorates 500 years since Henry VIII knighted Brian Tuke, the first Master of the Posts, in 1516.
As you would expect from any institution that has been around for 500 years, there are a number of significant dates in our history. The knighting of Brian Tuke was the catalyst for the creation of the Royal Mail we know today. Tuke had the influence and authority to establish key post towns across the country and build out a formal postal network.
To celebrate, Royal Mail is working in close partnership with its heritage partner, the British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA), to create an online gallery of 500 objects, people and events – www.royalmailgroup.com/500years – telling the story not only of the postal service but also of our contribution to social and political development over the last 500 years.