Fears that Royal Mail will close the Gloucester sorting office on Eastern Avenue have become a reality this morning.
The postal service has just confirmed it is closing the centre leaving 372 jobs uncertain.
It has vowed to try and find new roles for some of the workers elsewhere and has said it will reimburse staff if they have to travel.
Operations will continue from the Stroud, Brockworth and Bristol offices.
It follows an eight-month consultation with workers.
Here is the Royal Mail statement in full:
ROYAL MAIL DECISION ON ITS GLOUCESTER PROCESSING OPERATIONS REVIEW
• Following a review of its mail processing in Gloucester, Royal Mail has decided to transfer this operation to Bristol
• Some mail processing and mail collections work will move to Gloucester North and Stroud delivery offices
• Some mail collections will also be moved to Gloucester South and Lydney delivery offices
• This follows over eight months of consultation with employees and the CWU.
• This decision is in response to the challenges from digital communications, competition in the delivery market and overall mail volume decline.
• Our aim is to secure as much long-term employment and job security as possible and to continue to deliver an efficient, consistent and reliable service for our customers.
Royal Mail today announced that it will relocate its mail processing operations from Gloucester to Bristol as part of a wider ongoing review of mail centres across the UK. This transfer is expected to begin in the middle of 2013 and be completed by early 2014. Once Gloucester mail centre is closed, the site will be sold.
Royal Mail will also create two mail processing units at the existing Gloucester North and Stroud delivery offices. These sites will process mail for delivery to customers in parts of the GL2 – 6, GL10 and GL19 postcode areas.
We plan to transfer the machines for sorting mail, known as compact sequence sorters, from the mail centre to these offices. These machines can electronically “read” addresses to sort mail into batches for delivery at speeds of up to 45,000 items per hour. The machines can also sort mail into the order of a postman or woman’s walk, meaning that they spend less time sorting mail by hand before they go out on their deliveries.
Mail collections will be relocated from Gloucester mail centre to Gloucester North, Gloucester South, Stroud and Lydney delivery offices.
This decision follows a review of our processing operations in Gloucester that began in February 2012. Over eight months of consultation with our employees and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has taken place to date. We have also kept CMA Unite updated.
This review has been conducted on the basis of the Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond agreement which is the national Agreement between Royal Mail and the CWU for modernising the business. This agreement was endorsed by postmen and women in a national ballot in April 2010. The consultation has involved the CWU and regular talks with CMA Unite.
Royal Mail needs to respond to the huge growth in electronic communications and the resulting decline in overall mail volumes. In the UK, our latest financial results (published in June 2012) indicate that nationally letter volumes fell by 6% compared to the previous year. We are now delivering 58 million items a day compared to 84 million items a day six years ago.
In Gloucester, mail volumes of items posted to addresses in the region from other parts of the country have fallen over 18% during the last three years. Mail volumes of items posted to addresses outside the region have fallen by 27% in the same period.
Within this shrinking postal market, rival postal operators now carry more than one in three letters and more than half of all business mail in the UK. The regulatory framework has facilitated the rapid growth of competition, severely diluting our revenues. Our revenue has been declining as the number of addresses (nearly 29 million) to which we deliver is steadily increasing. Royal Mail has been stressing the need for a very different regulatory approach and our new regulator, Ofcom, has accepted that the regulatory landscape must fundamentally change.
Consultation with our people
Today’s announcement is the result of over eight months’ consultation by Royal Mail with its people and the CWU. This decision is aimed at allowing us to continue to deliver the most efficient, consistent and reliable service to Royal Mail customers and help secure long term employment and job security.
There are around 372 staff currently working at Gloucester mail centre, which includes a Royal Mail fleet services workshop. Royal Mail has been working hard to identify alternative roles for these people and we anticipate that all collection and network duties will remain, although they will be located on different sites. We will reimburse our staff for any extra mileage incurred by changes to their place of work.
We are confident that anyone wishing to continue working for Royal Mail will have the opportunity to do so if they are reasonably flexible. Royal Mail’s aim is to minimise job reductions and it remains our intention to make changes without compulsory redundancies.
Michael Kennedy, Royal Mail’s Process and Collections Director for the South West, said: “These changes to our operations in Gloucester will, unfortunately, impact on some colleagues. However, change is absolutely essential to meet customers’ expectations of a world class postal service, ensure we operate efficiently and provide a great quality of service in a smaller and radically changing market.
“We have briefed our people on our decision and will be speaking to individuals over the coming weeks about their preferences and the opportunities available. We will then aim to match them to a role or discuss how they can leave the business on voluntary terms and the support we can offer in finding new employment. Our agreements with the CWU set out an agreed approach to managing these changes and we will be working very closely with the CWU and Unite CMA to support our people during the coming months.
“This review is part of the ongoing modernisation and investment in our business. This is vital in order to put Royal Mail on a sound, secure and sustainable footing for the future. Our service to customers will continue to be a top priority during these changes. Customers can be reassured that we will do all we can to minimise any disruption and ensure we maintain the high level of service they expect and deserve from Royal Mail.”