Royal Mail to launch Amazon-style parcel service

·3 min read
An employee pulls a trolley through the Royal Mail Plc sorting office in Chelmsford, U.K., on Thursday, May 13, 2021. - Chris Ratcliffe/ Bloomberg
An employee pulls a trolley through the Royal Mail Plc sorting office in Chelmsford, U.K., on Thursday, May 13, 2021. - Chris Ratcliffe/ Bloomberg

Royal Mail will press ahead with the rollout of a nationwide Amazon-style dedicated parcel delivery service despite resistance from trade unions.

Everyday posties are to be stripped of responsibility for delivering parcels that are larger than the size of a shoebox under reforms, staff were told on Tuesday.

Larger items will be sorted at Royal Mail’s “super hubs” and taken to one of 350 delivery offices before being sent to homes across the country on dedicated parcel delivery routes. It is a similar model to the one operated by Amazon which has its own dedicated service and does not deliver letters. 

The move is likely to further inflame tensions with trade union leaders as a ballot for strike action opened on Tuesday in an industrial dispute over pay and working conditions. 

Company sources said that the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents 115,000 members of staff, wanted all larger parcels to continue passing through Royal Mail’s network of around 1,200 local offices.  

Grant McPherson, chief operating chief of Royal Mail, said: “We have been discussing the roll out of dedicated parcel routes with CWU for more than three years.

“Our dispute resolution procedure has now concluded without agreeing a mutual way forward. We are disappointed that the CWU is not supportive, especially as the plans will help us grow as a business.”

The new service will also be used for next-day parcel deliveries.

The email to staff, seen by The Telegraph, said: “We need to become more competitive for next day and larger parcels.  This is where the growth in the market is. At Royal Mail we are seeing next day parcels growing at 50-60pc per year, and consumers are ordering more larger goods online such as clothes, gifts and electronics, rather than the smaller books and CDs we were used to delivering in the past.

“Dedicated parcel routes will make core and ‘on foot’ deliveries more manageable by removing the largest parcels.”

Royal Mail’s first “superhub” opened earlier this month in Warrington with a second in Northampton slated to be launched next summer. A third site is being considered.

Bosses said that the changes to new dedicated parcel service would not result in any job losses.

The CWU today sent out ballot papers to its members with bosses warning it could trigger the "biggest strike of this summer".

The union has rejected Royal Mail’s offer of a 2pc pay increase and is demanding a bigger rise in line with inflation which hit a fresh 40-year high of 9.1pc in May.

It demanded that the company negotiate to secure a “straight, no-strings pay increase” for employees.

The CWU is also involved in pay disputes at BT and the Post Office, with union bosses threatening a “summer of discontent” over the cost of living crisis.

Rail and Tube networks were thrown into chaos last week when the Rail, Maritime and Transport union staged the biggest walkout in more than thirty years.

Britons are facing further disruption ahead, with more rail strikes planned alongside walkouts by airport and bus workers.

Inflation is forecast to surge above 11pc later this year when the energy price cap rises again.