Revamp of Royal Mail to cause 'chaos at Christmas'

Managers at Royal Mail are warning that the postal service could descend into chaos over Christmas, as the state-owned company gets to grips with its radical overhaul.

Managers at Royal Mail are warning that the postal service could descend into chaos over Christmas, as the state-owned company gets to grips with its radical overhaul.

A series of changes have been introduced at Royal Mail over the past year as management, led by chairman Allan Leighton and chief executive Adam Crozier, strive to turn the ailing service around.

The most controversial change has been the removal of second deliveries in favour of just one a day. Other measures include cutting back on overtime, reducing night-time postal sorting and axing casual staff.

But insiders are concerned that the changes could lead to upheaval during the hectic festive season. Traditionally, the Royal Mail has relied on strong demand for overtime to help fill the breach during Christmas.

But one insider said: "The staff are just not interested in overtime because they are working harder. Now is already starting to be a busy time for us and we're struggling. Everyone is worried it's going to be chaos for Christmas.

"I don't think the public realise just how much disruption there could be at Christmas."

A poor service over the festive period would be a massive blow to Royal Mail, which has already been heavily criticised for the disruption caused by the switch to single deliveries.

But Royal Mail's troubles could extend well beyond Christmas. Industry regulator, Postcomm is considering plans to introduce full competition in the postal market much sooner than originally planned.

Under the current timetable rubber-stamped by ministers, the state-owned mail company would be shielded from full competition from private firms in its main letters business until April 2007.

Over the last few years the postal market has been partially opened up. But the regulator is becoming increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of new competition and is now considering bringing forward the timetable.

In Poscomm's annual report, published last week, chief executive Martin Stanley says: "We are examining the possibility that we might open the whole market much earlier than our original date of April 2007." He argues that this may be necessary because so far only a handful of companies are trying to compete with Royal Mail in the business post market.

Mr Stanley argues that the lack of competition is keeping a lid on service improvements and he attacks Royal Mail for some "abysmal failures" in service over the past year.

The move is not likely to go down well at Royal Mail. Privately the company has complained that Britain is freeing up the postal market faster than any other European country, and going way beyond what is required under EU law.

However, a Royal Mail spokesman said: "We welcome competition. If competition were to accelerate, the important thing is how it is introduced. And the fact that Postcomm is looking at bringing forward the date for full competition underlines how essential the changes to Royal Mail's network are to make it more efficient."

He added that the company was also currently planning how to best run the Christmas schedule but remained confident that it would be a success. "Christmas is something that happens every year and we will be planning for it in the normal way."

However, another senior insider conceded that, with the prospect of increased competition as early as next year, Royal Mail had no choice but to provide a strong festive service.

The source said it was "absolutely critical", adding: "We need to be sure it's going to be the best Christmas we've ever had."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Chief Financial Officer

120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?