UP TO 380 jobs at Royal Mail’s Portsmouth processing centre are at risk after the company confirmed it is proposing to close the processing part of its business in the city.
The move would mean mail will not be sorted in Portsmouth from summer 2015, with that part of the business will be moved to a new central ‘supercentre’, probably in Eastleigh.
The plan, previously reported in The News, was first mooted in November last year.
Some 200 delivery staff working in Slindon Street will not be affected by the closure, and customers will still be able to pick up their parcels from the site.
The Communication Workers Union said there was no need for the processing centre to be centralised, as Royal Mail last year made a £403m profit.
Ruth Harris, branch secretary of the CWU’s Portsmouth region, said: ‘We are really concerned by the potential job losses to more than 350 people and also the deterioration of the services for the area that the Portsmouth mail centre covers.
‘It is just a cost-cutting exercise to make the company more attractive for the government’s plans for privatisation.
‘There will be a deterioration in service.
‘There will be chances for people to move to Southampton but this is not a simple nine to five job. ‘Workers cannot rely on public transport to get there.
‘We are hoping for more talks but what we need to do now is talk to our members.’
Currently all mail going to and coming from the Isle of Wight is processed in Portsmouth with a tightly-timed turnaround to meet postal deadlines.
Ms Harris said if the processing centre was moved, services would be slower.
She said: ‘People think the mail just gets put on a van and that’s it, but it’s actually far more complicated, especially when there are ferry timetables involved.
‘If Royal Mail is privatised, its new owners are not going to want to do the little jobs that don’t make the money, like going up dirt tracks to deliver the mail to remote places - certainly not six days a week. Services will suffer.’
The CWU has launched a campaign called Save Our Royal Mail,. asking for public support against privatisation.
Rhys Jones, a spokesman for Royal Mail said: ‘Change is absolutely essential to meet customers’ expectations of a world class postal service, ensure we operate efficiently and provide a great quality of service in a smaller and radically changing market.
‘At this stage, a final proposal and timetable for completion for this move is yet to be established.
‘Final proposals will take into account our customers concerns and be subject to rigorous testing before any implementation occurs.
‘Subject to a final decision being made, the transfer could begin in Autumn 2014 and conclude in Summer 2015.’