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Royal Mail chief to leave after clash with unions

PHOTO:JEFF GILBERT 12th July 2022. Mount Pleasant, London, UK Chief Executive of Royal Mail Simon Thompson - Jeff Gilbert
PHOTO:JEFF GILBERT 12th July 2022. Mount Pleasant, London, UK Chief Executive of Royal Mail Simon Thompson - Jeff Gilbert

The chief executive of Royal Mail is preparing to step down amid a row over deliveries and after a year-long clash with workers over pay.

Simon Thompson, who has spent two years at the helm of Royal Mail, is expected to leave within weeks, according to Sky News.

During his time in charge Mr Thompson has sought to modernise Royal Mail by refocusing the business towards parcels to help it compete with the likes of Amazon and Evri.

However, changes have been fiercely opposed by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), who have accused him of trying to turn Royal Mail into a “gig economy” employer.

His tenure has been marred by a year of clashes with union chiefs over pay and working conditions. Members of the CWU were on strike for a total of 18 days during the second half of last year.

Royal Mail has also been accused of failing to meet its universal service obligation under Mr Thompson’s tenure.

He has also clashed with MPs. Mr Thompson, who earned just over £750,000 last year, was accused of “incompetence or cluelessness” by the Labour MP Darren Jones, head of the business select committee, in a row over working conditions for postal staff.

Sky News said the board of International Distributions Services (IDS), the parent of Royal Mail, has concluded that new leadership is needed. Mr Thompson’s departure could be announced as soon as this week, the broadcaster said.

Royal Mail declined to comment.

The expected departure comes shortly after Royal Mail reached a deal with striking workers to prevent further disruption.

Postal union accepted a below-inflation pay rise in April. The CWU agreed to a 10pc pay rise across three years, plus a £500 bonus lump sum.

Royal Mail has a workforce of about 140,000 people, making it one of Britain's biggest private sector employers.

The company plans to make 10,000 redundancies as part of its cost-cutting plans but has agreed there will be no compulsory redundancies before April 2025.

Dave Ward, CWU’s general secretary, claimed that the union’s industrial action had prevented Royal Mail turning into a “gig economy employer” in a letter to members that was signed off with an anti-Thatcherite slogan.

Royal Mail Group, as the company was called at the time, was privatised by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in 2013. Then business secretary Sir Vince Cable said at the time that private ownership was a necessary step to allow it to modernise.