Royal Mail jobs cut to save £50m

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THOUSANDS of British workers are facing an uncertain future after a number of large businesses revealed plans to cut jobs yesterday.

Royal Mail is facing the threat of industrial action, just months after its privatisation, after unveiling plans to axe 1,600 jobs. The company came under fire for revealing a new efficiency programme aimed at saving £50m a year, saying it was needed to compete effectively with its rivals.

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Unite accused Royal Mail of “ruthlessly sacrificing jobs” and warned of industrial action.

The job losses will largely involve operational and head office managerial positions, not frontline postal workers.

The company, which floated on the London Stock Exchange last year, said 300 new posts would also be created, leaving a net reduction of 1,300 roles.

Brian Scott, national officer of Unite, said: “First the Government sells off Royal Mail on the cheap and now the newly privatised service is ruthlessly sacrificing jobs.

“We do not believe that it’s a coincidence that this announcement has been made just before the company prepares to announce its first full set of accounts since privatisation.

“It’s more proof that Royal Mail’s primary reason for existing is now about making profits rather than serving the nation.”

Chief executive Moya Greene said: “We are continuously improving our efficiency, whilst maintaining our high quality of service.

“We need to do so in order to effectively compete in the letters and parcels markets. This is the best way to ensure the continued delivery of the universal service and the good-quality jobs we provide for our people.”

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which was embroiled in a bitter row last year over privatisation which almost led to a strike, said Royal Mail had stressed that job losses will largely involve management positions.

Japanese car giant Honda is to cut production at its UK factory from three shifts to two, threatening 340 jobs. Most cars built at the plant in Swindon, Wiltshire, are exported and sales in other countries have not been as strong as in the UK.

More than 1,000 jobs are at risk after stricken pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond moved to appoint administrators. The group, which has 188 stores across the UK, threw in the towel after lenders said on Monday that they did not consider options to save the business “capable of being completed”. The appointment of PwC as administrators came as the Reading-based business admitted that, with no financial support from lenders and mounting trading losses, it would not be seeking an extension to a March 31 restructuring deadline set by its banks. The group has 25 branches in Yorkshire employing 174 staff. Leeds-based Herbert Brown, which dates from 1840, was bought by Albemarle & Bond in 2007.

It was also announced yesterday that Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks are to close 28 “unsustainable” branches and invest £45m in customer improvements under plans to reshape their retail banking operations.

Six “flagship” branches will be developed as well as improved mobile and internet banking services under a programme to “replace, renew, relocate and reinvest” across the retail branch network. Clydesdale and Yorkshire, part of National Australia Bank, said it will save £5m by the branch closures, adding that frontline jobs will be safeguarded.

New posts are being created at the banks’ busiest branches, while support will be given to displaced branch managers.