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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 11:51 GMT
Second post to be ditched
A postman
Unions fear postal worker jobs will be cut
The Royal Mail is to abolish second deliveries in some parts of the UK from May.

The trial scheme, in which post will arrive later and there will be only one delivery, is designed to improve efficiency, the Royal Mail says.

The Royal Mail hopes that cutting costs will help it out of its current cash crunch, caused by falling demand and mounting competition.

A single delivery will be made around lunchtime in the 14 areas of the UK where the trial service is being run.

The new delivery patterns are expected to be extended to the whole of the UK by the autumn.

Business fears

The Royal Mail, a subsidiary of state-run postal giant Consignia, said the new system was being brought in in response to competition as the postal delivery market opens up.

At present, postal workers aim to deliver letters and parcels to homes in towns and cities by 10am.

The idea, first proposed in January, has been criticised by small business groups who say the later delivery times will cause problems for people who work from home.

The Royal Mail said most people should not notice any difference, as changing work patterns since the original system was set up meant most houses were empty during the day.

More changes planned

Other changes being considered include evening deliveries and services for customers who want to collect their post themselves.

The delivery changes form part of a massive shake-up facing the service aimed at saving 1.2bn a year.

Consignia has a monopoly on UK postage costing less than 1 until September of last year.

It now faces competition for business deliveries, as well as for parcel delivery and from email.

It has also been unable to reach targets set for deliveries.

The government's regulator, Postcomm, set a yardstick of 92.1% of first-class post arriving within one working day, but Consignia managed only 75-86%.

The organisation saw a 3m loss in 2001, compared with a 550m profit the previous year.


The shake-up of delivery times is part of a move to prioritise its business service in the morning, leaving home deliveries until later in the day.

The move is also part of a 1.2bn cost-cutting plan.

Unions were warned in October that bosses were looking for up to 30,000 job cuts as part of the plans.

The Communications Workers Union is already calling for strike action over a pay dispute.

The ballot will be returned in March and strike action looks likely despite both sides being locked in ongoing talks with the conciliation service ACAS.

The BBC's Jenny Scott
"The Royal Mail has got a problem"
See also:

25 Feb 02 | Business
Consignia warns of shake-up
24 Jan 02 | Business
Finance experts warn on post reforms
12 Dec 01 | Business
Q&A: The Post Office Crisis
12 Dec 01 | Business
Consignia clashes with the unions
11 Dec 01 | Business
Consignia to cut up to 30,000 jobs
17 Sep 01 | Business
Hays breaks Royal Mail monopoly
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