Royal Mail Plans For Only One Mail Centre In London

CWU members marching to lobby last year’s Labour Party conference
CWU members marching to lobby last year’s Labour Party conference

PLANS by royal mail management to close all but one of London’s Mail Centres is set to put them on a collision course with postal workers in the capital.

According to a statement from the London Divisional Committe (LDC) of the CWU entitled: The Capital’s Punishment by Royal Mail, management has taken an ‘executive decision’ to close Nine Elms in south London, East London Mail Centre and Rathbone place in central London, leaving Mount Pleasant (the Mount) as the only centre in the capital.

The LDC states: ‘Currently there are: 1309 staff employed at Mount Pleasant; 116 staff employed at South London; 671 staff employed at East London; 3416 staff in total.

‘Royal Mail states that they intend to reduce staff in London Mail Centres by 403 prior to the Mail Centre closures.

‘In addition, Royal Mail wants to remove the Inward Foreign Work from the Mount which will lose approximately 400 duties.’

The statement stresses: ‘Royal Mail signed into a National Agreement that stated; ‘Royal Mail and CWU confirm the overriding objective is to deliver the transformation without recourse to compulsory redundancies’.

It warns: ‘Royal Mail’s plans for London, which includes the closure of two Mail Centres and the removal of the Inward Foreign from Mount Pleasant, will, in CWU’s view, lead to compulsory redundancies.’

The closures decision followed a review which Royal Mail claim was needed to improve customer service, increase productivity and protect their workforce from compulsory redundancies.

But a closer look at the closure plan clearly shows that nothing could be further from the truth; which is that Royal Mail is asset stripping and looking to encourage part-time working and force through compulsory redundancies.

Evidence of this can be seen in the decision to close Rathbone Place, which isn’t even a Mail Centre but a delivery unit and, says the CWU, ‘should therefore have never been included in the review in the first place’.

Lying just off Oxford Street, this building is the company’s most promising prospect at raising cash for short-term gain, says the LDC.

As for the claim of improving customer service, under the review management planned to transfer all London W1 and London WC distribution functions to the basement in the ‘Mount’.

The LDC statement says: ‘Royal Mail’s decision to keep the Mount open is a decision which the union supports, but it just demonstrates the hypocrisy of Royal Mail when it comes to their so-called Mail Centre review.

‘On the one hand, Royal Mail say they want to introduce World Class Mail which is based on new purpose-made buildings with either an L-shaped or horseshoe layout.

‘Yet, Royal Mail have chosen to keep the Mount Pleasant site open.

‘This means it will be the only Mail Centre in London, the most influencial financial district in Europe and the UK’s capital city.

‘Mount Pleasant is one of the oldest Mail Centres in the UK and its floor space is hampered by large pillars and is the most costly operation in terms of maintenance costs.

‘When you weigh up Royal Mail’s decision, you can only conclude that the decision to retain the Mount is purely and simply an act of stripping assets for short-term gain.’

This is also true when it comes to the closure of Nine Elms: ‘South London currently has one of the biggest outward mail operations together with the biggest inward mail volumes in the UK. The decision to sell the site will ultimately mean that the quality of service will nose-dive.’

The LDC statement adds: ‘Royal Mail’s decision to close East London Mail centre makes no financial sense as the building has a very long lease, so either way, Royal Mail will have to pay the ongoing costs of the site in Twelvetrees Lane.

‘East London has some of the biggest growth in business and growth in delivery points of any area in Europe. In addition, one of the legacies of the 2012 Olympics will be some 26000 new delivery points.

‘East London Mail Centre was opened in 2000 when the old Whitechapel site could no longer cope with the expanding growth in East London.

‘Yet Royal Mail’s decision would mean moving all that work along the A12 or A127, these routes between London and Romford are some of the most congested in the country.

‘The CWU fail to see how the closure of the East London Mail Centre will contribute in any way to Royal Mail`s coffers. Nor do these cuts provide any improvement in quality of service.’

The statement further warns: ‘Royal Mail’s decision to close Nine Elms and East London at a time when Mail Centres outside London are not clearing is undoubtedly going to have a damaging effect on Quality of Service.’

It adds: ‘Last year Royal Mail in London paid over £1 million in compensation for a range of quality failures. The CWU are convinced these plans are implemented, Royal Mail will have to pay out even more in compensation.’

Commenting on the knock on effect of the Royal Mail plan, the CWU LDS says: ‘There will be a major affect on Delivery Units as a result of work being moved out of London and then moving to the MPU where the Walk Sequencing Machine is, and then onto the satellite Delivery offices.

‘The vans which will have to transport the work will come from Greenford, Romford, Jubilee and Croydon at the height of the rush hour traffic.

‘This will mean that work will arrive later than now and will mean later starts for Delivery Offices, more Part Time staff which will subsequently mean reduction in Full Time Staff and will make negotiating improved attendances even more more difficult.

‘Again, Royal Mail’s plans ignore the principles of the National Agreement.’

It continues: ‘The effect on Network will be massive as it would seem that they want to move work out of London rather than to PRDC.

It stresses: ‘The closure of the three sites will have a big affect on all CWU grades including CIT staff, LAs, Quadrant, Romec and Motor Transport, Engineers and Delivery Staff.

‘No involvement whatsoever has happened in regards to this plan which will threaten their jobs. This again is unacceptable.’

The CWU LDC concludes: ‘The CWU believe that Royal Mail has broken the principles of the National Agreement and this Management plan is based on asset stripping and the removal of full time Mail Centre jobs in London.

‘In our opinion, this is a blatant act of Industrial Vandalism. No other Postal organisation in the world would dream of downsizing their operation in their Capital City.

‘Royal Mail’s plans have nothing to do with modernisation, Quality of Service to the customer, productivity or the welfare of Royal Mail employees. This “review” is nothing more than an act of pure vindictiveness.

‘The CWU is therefore totally opposed to Royal Mail’s plans to do away with London Postal Services, Quality to customers and Jobs.

‘The CWU will be launching a political and media campaign which will be aimed at highlighting the fact that Royal Mail’s plans will severely damage Postal Services in London.

‘Furthermore, if Royal Mail goes ahead with the aspect of their plans that break the terms of the National Agreement, including avoiding compulsory redundancies, then we will oppose their plans with all means at our disposal.’