The Royal Mail was yesterday accused of betraying senior staff who helped to keep services going during recent strikes when the organisation announced 3,000 redundancies among managers.
Leaders of the Amicus union, which represents the senior employees, said the organisation was "kicking in the teeth" the very people who had minimised the disruption.
However, Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, which made only a £3m pre-tax profit on a £4bn turnover in the first half of the financial year, said the staff involved were "non-operational" and were among 30,000 posts being cut as part of a three-year "renewal" programme.
He said the managerial jobs would go by next March through voluntary redundancy. However, he warned that employees who wanted to go would not automatically be allowed to leave. "Decisions will be made ultimately on what's right for the Royal Mail," he said.
Mr Cozier said: "We are conducting a series of reviews of the non-operational parts of our business to strengthen further the focus on Royal Mail's commercial priorities.
"Any job reductions we have to make are the hardest part of Royal Mail's three-year renewal plan. But there is no avoiding the harsh reality that Royal Mail must reduce its overheads and become more efficient to ensure a successful future."
The Royal Mail has already cut around 14,500 jobs since its three-year renewal plan was launched 18 months ago.
Peter Skyte, national secretary of the communication managers' section of Amicus, said: "The way this has been announced by the Royal Mail is in sharp contrast to their professed belief in partnership. It will create uncertainty and insecurity among managers who are critical to changing the culture and performance of the organisation."
Talks aimed at resolving a long-running dispute over pay and working practices at the Royal Mail ended in agreement last night.
A proposed package will be recommended to the executive of the Communication Workers Union next week.
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