Polish Post reviews branch closures amid job cut protests

Polish postal workers took to the streets yesterday to protest thousands of potential lay-offs and post office closures, with several more protests planned. But Poland’s trade union Solidarity said yesterday that although talks with management have been unsuccessful so far, it is not yet discussing the possibility of strike action.

The union even suggested that new leadership at Polish Post could increase chances of securing a new labour agreement.

Bogumil Nowicki, who heads up the Polish Post representation at the Solidarity Trade Union, said with a new leader at Polish Post, careful negotiations could improve chances of an agreement.

Jerzy Jóźkowiak, 53, previously president of telecommunications firm MNI SA, took office as president of Polish Post at the start of this month.

Last week, Jóźkowiak ordered a review of the company’s plans to restructure its post office network and staff, which is due to report back by the end of April.

Polish Post said the transformation of its post office network in rural areas would continue as it has for the past dozen years, in order to improve costs of running the network.

The operator is looking to increase the number of partner-run post offices “where economically justified”, and increase the availability of postal services in urban areas.

“Absolutely certain”

The company’s strategy is expected to bring “profound changes” to operations, but Jóźkowiak said: “The decision to examine the merits of this substantive and economic transformation of the branch network has come because I want to be absolutely certain of the proposed solutions.”

The trade union Solidarity said yesterday that it believed the Polish Post board was intending to lay off 5,000 workers and replace around 3,000 post offices with facilities run by agency partners.

Nowicki said loss of post offices would be a “big problem” for residents of small towns and villages, who would be “deprived” of services for which the Post Office was set up.

The union said Polish Post’s distribution network was its biggest assets, and that reducing its size would reduce the value of the company as a whole.

The unionists also suggested that reducing infrastructure would not help Polish Post when the domestic market is opened up to foreign competition under European Union liberalization regulations in 2013.

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