MP demands meeting as 380 Royal Mail jobs put at risk in Portsmouth

The l''Slindon Street Post Office in Portsmouth
The l''Slindon Street Post Office in Portsmouth
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PORTSMOUTH South MP Mike Hancock is demanding a meeting with Royal Mail officials after 380 jobs at the city’s mail centre were put at risk.

The firm have announced it will carry out a review into the future of the branch, in Slindon Street, Landport, and its workers during a six-month consultation starting from January.

The move affects mail processors, administrators, drivers who take mail to airports, canteen workers and cleaners. Mr Hancock contacted Royal Mail after two postal workers came to his office yesterday to complain.

He said: ‘I am trying to organise a meeting with Royal Mail to find out what exactly it plans to do.

‘My concern is whether the company is thinning out its resources in preparation for it to be privatised.

‘That is a real concern.

‘I want to see jobs being kept in Portsmouth. I will also be in contact with the union about what I can do to help.’

Royal Mail says it will work with The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents mail staff, in deciding what happens. The union is not planning any strike action. Royal Mail says it is carrying out a review following a 15 per cent drop in the number of letters being sent to people in Portsmouth from other parts of the country in the last four years. The move will not affect the post office at the front of the site or mail delivery centres in Portsmouth’s surrounding areas.

There are also plans to create one super mail hub at a site in Hampshire.

Scott Torrington, programme manager for Royal Mail, said the review was part of the firm’s way of looking at how it can modernise.

‘Any change to our mail centre in Portsmouth will, unfortunately, impact on some colleagues,’ he said.

‘Our agreements with the CWU set out an agreed approach to managing these changes and we will be working very closely with CWU to support our people during what will, inevitably, be a period of uncertainty.

‘This review is part of the ongoing modernisation and investment in our business.

‘This is vital in order to put Royal Mail on a sound, secure and sustainable footing for the future.’

The CWU fears the Portsmouth branch will close because no other mail office in the country has survived following a review into their practices.

Ruth Harris, branch secretary for the union, said: ‘I am very, very concerned about this and this will most likely spell the end of the Portsmouth mail office.

‘The union will have meetings and we will then be able to gage from our members what happens next.

‘I do not think this will lead to a better quality service for Royal Mail customers.

‘This will only lead to the company deteriorating and becoming privatised.’

The news was broke to staff at the mail centre on Thursday night.

One worker, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘It has come as a big shock, to be honest, and looking around at people’s faces I don’t think anyone knew it was coming.

‘Closing Slindon Street will also affect mail collected from the Isle of Wight, which comes through Portsmouth.’