A major review launched earlier this year at La Poste in the wake of two staff suicides has called for a new social dialogue within the company, and an easing of hiring restrictions.
La Poste chairman Jean-Paul Bailly established a commission to investigate working conditions at the national French postal operator back in April 2012, after two postal workers killed themselves in the Brittany region, supposedly after suffering stress in their jobs.
The commission, led by former union leader Jean Kaspar, engaged with all stakeholders associated with La Poste, including unions, postal workers themselves, management and others within La Poste Group, in a series of hearings over the summer.
The review found that while La Poste has been reshaping itself for the modern communications era, serious tensions have crept into the work force.
One aspect that has caused stress for workers has been a decentralisation of management responsibility within La Poste, giving local staff members more autonomy in order to strengthen local customer relationships, but the Commission suggested a delay in training and support for this local autonomy has meant extra stresses for some La Poste staff.
But, the current atmosphere in the business – as in the rest of French industry – of constant change with the introduction of new technologies and flexible working arrangements has left postal workers disorientated and disconnected from job satisfaction, the report suggests, leading to anxiety, stress and depression.
The Kaspar Report recommends a rebalancing of the management of the company to strengthen the role of the corporation, inclined in matters to do with social and welfare policy and health and safety at work.
It also calls for a loosening of staffing constraints generally and a boost to both training and social dialogue within the company.
La Poste employs about 264,000 people in a business that manages 27bn postal items a year in a network of 17,000 outlets.
Commenting on his Commission’s findings, Kaspar said La Poste had to prioritize the implementation of the report recommendations in order to restore confidence to the work force.
Speaking to the French Press today, the former secretary-general of the CFDT union said between 4,500 and 5,000 new staff should be taken on by La Poste to improve the working conditions within the Group.
The new workers were particularly needed to bolster training and internal communications activities within the Group, Kaspar said.
But, Kasper said improving the quality of work within La Poste should not mean a halt to modernisation efforts at the company.
“This absolute priority does not mean, in my view, the abandonment of necessary modernisation needed to cope with the current market, since economic realities cannot be avoided,” he said.
“This must be done, in the spirit of the recommendations of this report, in consultation and partnership with the staff and their representatives, by developing a process of dialogue to challenge the individual and collective intelligence.”
La Poste is yet to formally respond to the findings of the commission.
As it launched the Kaspar Review earlier this year, the company did also launch a EUR 20m initiative to improve working conditions, which did include the hiring of 1,000 additional staff members.
However, La Poste’s latest financial results issued at the end of August shows that staff numbers in the Group as a whole have fallen by 5,191 (a 2% decrease in the workforce) in the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of last year.
Source: Poste&Parcel/La Poste