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Royal Mail may reduce postal services as more staff take sick leave

28 Mar 2020, 14:32

https://www.theguardian.com/business/20 ... oronavirus

Footfall down at Post Office sites and letter volumes likely to fall amid coronavirus crisis

Royal Mail has warned it may have to cut back on postal services as increasing numbers of its staff take sick leave.

The company, which provides letter and parcel delivery services to 30m homes and businesses, said it had taken measures to limit contact in the workplace and with customers on postal rounds but that the coronavirus was taking a toll.

“In recent weeks, we have seen rising levels of sick absence as colleagues self-isolate or care for family members,” the company said. “We cannot rule out reductions to services as Covid-19 develops.”

Royal Mail said that stay-at-home restrictions had led to a drop in business at Post Office branches and that it expected letter volumes to decline. However, parcel deliveries have been strong over the last two weeks, with the public buying more products online after shops had to close.

The company said that in the last two weeks advertising mail has plummeted, especially in the travel sector, as companies delay or cancel marketing campaigns. Business mail has held up. International business has been affected by restrictions in certain countries, especially in and out of China, and a reduction in air freight capacity as airlines cut flights.

Royal Mail’s European business has also suffered, especially in Italy, Spain and France, which have been seriously affected by the coronavirus.

“We are focused on protecting our people, company and the communities we serve during this unprecedented crisis,” said Rico Back, the chief executive of Royal Mail. “We are putting the health and wellbeing of colleagues and customers first. At the same time, we are delivering the parcels and letters that are a lifeline for those who cannot leave their homes.”

Royal Mail also said it would scrap its final dividend to help shore up its finances and said its UK business would be “materially loss-making” this year. The company added it would no longer be giving financial guidance to the market.

“We are entering a period of significant uncertainty in a good financial position,” Back said. “We have a strong balance sheet. We have substantial levels of liquidity and low levels of debt. We are taking immediate steps to further reduce our costs and protect our cashflow.”

Royal Mail said it can sustain the current market conditions – it has in excess of £800m in cash and a £925m revolving credit facility. However, the company said the risk of breaching certain financial covenants will increase if current conditions continue into the final quarter of the year.

Royal Mail also said that its already-behind-schedule £1.8bn transformation plan to move away from letters and focus on parcel delivery – which is booming thanks to online shopping – would be further delayed. The plan has caused major tension with staff, who have threatened strike action over job security and employment terms and conditions.

Royal Mail may reduce postal services as more staff take sick leave

29 Mar 2020, 00:21

This reduction in postal services? Surely there is a sentence missing here.....”This will be the last resort after the management have tried to bully, harass and threaten the remaining attending postmen and women into delivering to ever greater areas with scant regard for their health and wellbeing”....... have I misread it and not seen this line?

Royal Mail may reduce postal services as more staff take sick leave

29 Mar 2020, 09:20

Incredible......., we’ve spent the last year fighting RM and Rico in particular their trying to reduce the postal service etc and downgrade our jobs. Yet all I’ve read on here over the last week or so in people’s desperation to get out of doing work (under the guise of their concern of the virus) is pleading with RM to cut the service down, stop delivering this item or that item etc, not working Saturdays, only doing as few hours a day as possible etc etc. Don’t people realise that if a reduction of service comes in that will be it forever, it will never go back to what it was and what we hope it can be.

Royal Mail may reduce postal services as more staff take sick leave

29 Mar 2020, 10:33

The Post Offices I've been in are as busy as ever, including ones without an attached shop.

Royal Mail may reduce postal services as more staff take sick leave

29 Mar 2020, 11:22

Royal Mail said it can sustain the current market conditions


The company said that in the last two weeks advertising mail has plummeted,


already-behind-schedule £1.8bn transformation plan to move away from letters and focus on parcel delivery –which is booming thanks to online shopping


So everything is fine right now, and if it goes back to normal last quarter, which is 6 months away, everything is also fine.

A drop in mail, but wanting to move away from mail, i see no issue here then RM.

Parcels doing okay then RM? that's good.

Maybe if RM and the Union could negotiate, RM could press on forward with investment.

I'm still at work, so no sympathy from me Rico.

:Boo hoo!

Royal Mail may reduce postal services as more staff take sick leave

29 Mar 2020, 12:17

GRS wrote:Incredible......., we’ve spent the last year fighting RM and Rico in particular their trying to reduce the postal service etc and downgrade our jobs. Yet all I’ve read on here over the last week or so in people’s desperation to get out of doing work (under the guise of their concern of the virus) is pleading with RM to cut the service down, stop delivering this item or that item etc, not working Saturdays, only doing as few hours a day as possible etc etc. Don’t people realise that if a reduction of service comes in that will be it forever, it will never go back to what it was and what we hope it can be.

The only bit of good news in the article was that Rico has been advised by the FCA to shut his big fat mouth and desist from running down the company. It's amazing how he can say parcels are booming and also that RM is almost bust in the same series of comments.
I can see merit in both sides of the argument. I think it's entirely possible that other companies may close down their online operations due to less orders being received but give the reasons as concern for the welfare of their staff. If this happens and online deliveries across the country stop for say two or three weeks at the high point of the virus outbreak then everyone will be in the same boat so there would no dissimilar effect on RM. In addition this would mean less posties would stand the chance of catching the virus and passing it on to their families.

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