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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones