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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Consignia to axe 2,100 jobs
Britain's state-owned post office is to lay off about 2,100 staff as part of a plan to cut costs and meet the challenge of growing competition.

The post office, recently renamed Consignia, said the job cuts would come in managerial and administrative staff, starting in October.

Created in March 2001 as a government-owned holding company for the Post Office
Also owns Parcelforce Worldwide and the Royal Mail
New ownership structure makes it easier to borrow money and compete internationally
New name meant to reflect wider role
It said it hoped that most of the cuts would come through voluntary redundancies.

But a spokesman refused to rule out some compulsory redundancies.

Consignia was created in March as a Government-owned holding company for the Post Office.

It employs about 200,000 people.

It has a monopoly on UK postage costing less than 1 but faces increasing competition outside this market and from email.

Surplus staff

A Consignia spokesman said: "It's about 1% of the total workforce that will be lost from our business.

"It does not involve front-line staff."

She said that another 7,300 staff would be given the option to be reassigned to other parts of the group in line with Consignia's goal to eliminate inefficiencies across the board.

Consignia said it was "reviewing its policy for managing surplus staff in a fast-moving and highly competitive world."

Union reaction

At the moment, when jobs become surplus to requirments, workers are put on to a 'transitional database' or put on special projects, until they are allocated another role.

We are not opposed to the idea of surplus staff being identified in the organisation

Terry Deegan, Communication Managers Association
In a few cases, there have been voluntary redundancies.

Terry Deegan, national secretary of the Communication Managers' Association, said "There has been a lot of downsizing in recent years.

A lot of people have been made voluntarily redundant.

"The difference here is that the Post Office is being much more insistent."

Mr Deegan said the union had been consulted over the plan and was not against it in principle.

"We are not opposed to the idea of suprlus staff being identified in the organisation. That doesn't cause us a problem.

"It is the thought that some may be made compulsarily redundant.

"We hope to try to persuade them to go down the voluntary route.

"We hope it is not the tip of the iceberg."

He said the union would be monitoring the situation.

The BBC's Russel Hayes
"Consignia's problems have been made worse by appalling industrial relations"
See also:

26 Jun 01 | Business
Post office jobs warning
31 May 01 | Business
Consignia considers outsourcing deal
19 Jan 01 | Business
Price 'freeze' on stamps
26 Mar 01 | Business
Q&A: Letter delivery free-for-all
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