Austrian Post denies claims it is planning to cut jobs
Austrian Post has ruled out laying off thousands of postal workers as it continues to adjust its network to falling mail volumes.
The national postal service in Austria issued a “clear denial” of local newspaper reports today, stating that it was “simply wrong” to state that it has plans for a wave of job cuts.
The newspaper reports had suggested that 9,000 mail staff were currently in fear of losing their jobs.
But Austrian Post issued a statement to support its employees and dismiss the reports, which it said were only causing uncertainty for staff.
The Post said it has adjusted its workforce by between 250-500 people a year in recent years to adapt to declining mail volumes, but the reductions have been achieved through natural attrition.
The company said it has even hired 3,000 new employees since 2009 because natural attrition has been above the level needed to adapt to mail volumes.
At the same time the letters business has been suffering falling volumes, Austrian Post pointed out that its parcel business has been booming, with double-digit growth in 2012 and high single-digit growth in 2013. The company is to increase by 50% the number of delivery staff involved in combined letter and parcel delivery to maximise use of the fixed costs involved in the delivery network.
Austrian Post’s CEO, Georg Pölzl, said: “Only through consistent adherence to our chosen strategy can the Post succeed, continuing to be an economically strong company and stay as one of the largest employers in the country. And that’s our goal.”
Austrian Post, which is 51% owned by the Austrian state, had total revenues of EUR 2.4bn in 2012, with about 21,100 employees handling 8m mail items and 250,000 parcels in that year.
With the country’s postal market opening to full competition in 2011, and with mail volumes falling because of increased Internet use, Austrian Post has been reorganizing its network with a reduction in mail sorting centres from 39 to six from 1999 to 2006. At the same time full-time employment dropped by a quarter.
Next working day delivery increased from 80% of mail in 2001 to more than 95% in 2006 as a result of the reorganisation, while losses were turned into a profit margin of 7% by 2006.
According to new report issued by Britain’s postal regulator Ofcom this week, Austrian Post is currently investing “very heavily” in new sorting technology for letters and flats. This includes 20 Solystic STAR Duplex machines as the Post aims to introduce sequence-sorting for letters, sorting letters into delivery address order.
The report assembled by consultancy Wik Consult said Austrian Post has been less affected by the decline in mail volumes than many other postal operators in Europe, with mail volume roughly stable between 2003 and 2008, falling by 7% in 2009 due to the recession, and falling by 2% year-on-year on average since then.
Since 2008 parcel volumes at Austrian Post have grown by more than 50% thanks to a steadily increasing market share in business-to-business parcels and growing business-to-consumer volumes driven by e-commerce.