PostNL has suspended its closure programme for delivery offices in the Netherlands for the rest of the year, after agreeing with unions to rethink plans to reorganise its letter mail delivery network.
The Dutch postal service had been planning to centralise its delivery operations into nine key processing plants and to close around 300 delivery offices. It had also been planning to switch to part-time workers as part of efforts to reduce costs and improve flexibility with regard to arising mail volumes.
But after implementation began at the start of this year, PostNL received some vocal complaints from key customers in the Dutch press concerning “quality problems”, and the company suspended its letter mail reorganisation in April.
Today PostNL said it will now undertake its reorganisation in phases, postponing the opening of new central preparation locations to 2013.
There will be no further delivery office closures this year other than locations in Zaltbommel and IJsselstein.
PostNL has agreed the “controlled implementation” with the Works Council, and is now intending to test out the approach in a number of pilot studies.
The company said a decision will be taken this autumn regarding the final shape of the reorganisation.
Pieter Kunz, the PostNL director of operations, said: “Good quality will remain our point of focus. Thus we will only resume rolling out the reorganisation once we are sure that we can limit the impact of the reorganisation on our customers.
“Our attention is especially focused on obituary notices and medical mail. The agreements we have now made are a good basis for the follow-up steps we will be taking,” added Kunz.
PostNL said away from the letter network reorganisation, its other plans to restructure are proceeding, including the transfer of small transport operations – collection, business mail pickup services, rural mail delivery – to a separate PostNL unit, and the relocation of postal facilities from post offices to retail partners.
PostNL, whose then-CEO Harry Koorstra resigned in April, handles around 8.7bn addressed postal items a year – including 106m parcels.
Its revenues declined 4% last year, as Dutch mail volumes reduced by 5.1%. This year the company is expecting volumes to reduce by between 6.5% and 8.5% as more customers switch to Internet communications.
The Dutch government is in the process of amending PostNL’s universal service requirements, with legislation expected this summer, which is expected to see ministers allowing the postal operator to abandon Monday deliveries as part of cost-cutting efforts.