News and press releases

  • Royal Mail
    News from Royal Mail Group
    21 July 2009
    £120 Million Further Investment In Royal Mail Modernisation

Royal Mail today announced a further £120 million phase of capital investment as part of the company’s continuing programme to create a fully modernised, world class postal service for consumers and businesses in the UK

Royal Mail today announced a further £120 million phase of capital investment as part of the company’s continuing programme to create a fully modernised, world class postal service for consumers and businesses in the UK. The latest investment is earmarked to provide new equipment for delivery postmen and women and is in addition to more than £800 million which has already been spent on the modernisation of the business. Royal Mail is investing a total of £2.1 billion in transforming Royal Mail and is on track to deliver that plan.

The new equipment will ultimately be introduced in all delivery offices and includes:

•Almost 9,000 more handheld tracking devices on top of the 27,000 already purchased to help track deliveries more precisely,
•11,500 new vehicles to make sure that postmen and women are able to take everything for their round with them without the need to be replenished mid-way through the day,
•Almost 2,400 electric powered trolleys, 4,000 high capacity trolleys and 24,000 lightweight trolleys to take the weight off postmen and women’s backs and help them carry letters, packets and parcels safely and efficiently.

As a result, postmen and women will be better able to handle the increased proportion of packets and parcels in the mail bag - generated by the internet shopping market - in a safe and efficient way.

Mark Higson, Royal Mail Managing Director, said, "We’re investing for a positive future, both for our customers and our people. We know that traditional letter volumes are now falling by up to 10% annually, and we’re absolutely focussed on the need to create an operation which gives us the very best chance of winning packets and parcels business in an intensely competitive marketplace. We’re hugely increasing our ability to track the delivery of goods and internet shopping orders and we are very determined to create the modern, efficient business that meets our customers’ needs and expectations.

"A successful future for Royal Mail , which protects as many jobs as possible and secures the one-price-goes-anywhere universal postal service, depends on making investments quickly and on everyone in the company playing their part in making change happen throughout our operation. I’m delighted with today’s announcement which shows that every delivery office in the UK will be able to make use of new equipment as well as modernising the way in which they work."

Modernisation in Royal Mail is already well underway. Since 2007 the company has:

•Already introduced 27,000 handheld tracking devices to record electronic signature on delivery for tracked mail, sending confirmation to the sender within 20 minutes and creating one of the UK’s largest corporate WiFi networks,
•Upgraded 138 Integrated Mail Processors in mail centres across the UK and started to expand a further 90 machines,
•Installed 21 ‘flat’ sorting machines to sort larger items automatically,
•Installed the first "intelligent" Letter Sorting Machines in the Jubilee mail centre in Surrey and in Edinburgh mail centre, and we have ordered a further 74 machines for deployment across the network,
•Installed the first walk sequencing machines - which can sort the mail sequentially to the route taken by a postman or woman - in Bristol in preparation for a national rollout of more than 530 machines. This builds on the business’s investment in upgrading and installing technology during the first phase of the on-track modernisation programme which increased our walk sorting capability to more than 80% of the mail we handle.
•Improved efficiency across more than 34,000 individual walks in line with the 2007 Pay and Modernisation agreement.

Within three years, Royal Mail will have 900 world class automation machines and will be sorting 75% of the addressed mail to the exact door to door sequence in which our postmen and women deliver.

Mark Higson said, "We’re continually improving efficiency - by modernising working practices and introducing the equipment to make every collection and delivery route more cost effective - so that we can offer competitive prices that will win and retain business. Royal Mail, rightly, doesn’t take any business for granted, and we know that competitors are chasing every packet and parcel in a fiercely competitive marketplace."


Issued by Royal Mail: 020 7250 2468 (24 hours)
100 Victoria Embankment

Notes to Editors

1.Royal Mail has condemned the Communication Workers Union for striking over much-needed modernisation and change which has already been successfully implemented by our people in the majority of offices around the UK and is working well. Royal Mail again urges the union to abandon strike action and to support the modernisation and investment which is crucial to the business. The changes Royal Mail is making are all covered by the 2007 Agreement on Pay and Modernisation, which the CWU leadership signed in the presence of the TUC but which they are now reneging on in a way that clearly hurts our customers and our people and damages Royal Mail. The union claims to support modernisation, yet acts to destroy it.

2.Any moratorium on further change at Royal Mail - at a time when we urgently need to up the pace of change in the face of a 10% decline in UK mail volumes - can only worsen that decline. In central London, where the CWU’s strike action has been focussed, the fact is that 20% fewer items are being delivered each day compared to two years ago, while efficiency lags behind the rest of the UK, with productivity in some parts of the capital around 35% below the best UK units.

3.Lord Mandelson, the Secretary of State, has recently made clear his view that the union are "essentially boycotting the agreed processes for making change in the Royal Mail" and that the union must change its attitude to change and implement the 2007 agreement on Pay and Modernisation. Despite today’s local strikes, we are again urging the CWU to work with us to honour that agreement and help modernise Royal Mail and protect the Universal Service on which so many individuals and businesses depend.

4.The CWU has issued instructions to its branch representatives in London and in a number of other offices not to co-operate with Royal Mail over the introduction of new equipment and changes in working practices which their leadership signed up to in 2007. Some examples of the union’s resistance to modernisation include:

•Writing to branches saying their policy is not to cooperate with change despite their public statements to the contrary.
•Not working all the hours for which people are paid. A significant number of delivery postmen in some units in London complete their walks up to two hours before their scheduled duty finish each day yet are unwilling to help out with other tasks for the remainder of the working day. The 2007 agreement set out that people should work the hours for which they are paid.
•During the summer when mail volumes are low there is less work to do. By asking each delivery postman simply to deliver to one or two extra streets some of their colleagues’ summer holidays can be covered without overtime. Many London delivery units refuse to cover additional streets.
•Refusal to work to revised delivery routes generated by computer aided planning, which is used in postal organisations around the world and is aimed at making us more efficient.
•A refusal to accept the use of more part time workers in delivery to enable us to be more flexible and match the workload, even though we have guaranteed that no-one who works full-time will be forced to go part-time.
•In Mail Centres, there are demarcation lines which date back decades - so, for example, Distribution drivers refuse to work in the mail centre even when they have no driving to do but there is work in the mail centre which needs attention.

5.Detailed customer advice during any industrial action can be found on the Royal Mail web site at Post Office and Parcelforce Worldwide services are unaffected by the CWU’s strike action.