LONDON (AFP) – British postal operator Royal Mail on Tuesday announced plans to cut 700 management jobs to slash costs, as it revealed that thousands of staff were off work with COVID.
The company said the plan would save GBP40 million a year. One-off restructuring costs would total GBP70 million, Royal Mail added in a statement.
Chief Executive Simon Thompson said around 15,000 staff were off sick or isolating in early January following rising cases of the Omicron Covid variant.
This was about twice pre-coronavirus levels, he noted.
Thompson described higher absence levels as “a headwind to delivering” group productivity targets.
British union Unite hit out at the job losses, saying it was considering strike action.
“Unite will be giving maximum support to our members in fighting these unjust job cuts and this includes the possibility of an industrial action ballot,” Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said in a separate statement.
“Now is the time for the top executives to reconsider their proposals,” she added.
While Royal Mail’s core letters business continues to suffer in the Internet age, it benefitted hugely during Britain’s pandemic lockdowns thanks to surging demand for parcel deliveries.