400 jobs at risk as Royal Mail considers shutting customer service base
HUNDREDS of jobs are under threat in Stoke-on-Trent as Royal Mail reviews its customer service operations.
Union leaders claim Royal Mail wants to shut its Etruria centre with the loss of 400 positions over the next 18 months.
It follows Royal Mail's decision to transfer 700 jobs out of the region by shutting sorting offices in Stoke and Crewe in the past year.
Now a campaign is underway to try to save the Royal Mail call centre from closure.
Royal Mail today confirmed it is reviewing its customer services facilities across the country. It adds that no decision has been made about the Etruria property.
But Lee Barron, pictured below, Midlands regional secretary at the Communication Workers' Union (CWU), says employees have been told verbally that the centre will close in 12 to 18 months.
Mr Barron said: "We want to know if Royal Mail has some sort of vendetta against jobs in Stoke-on-Trent.
"Over the last decade, 800 to 1,000 jobs have been taken out of Stoke-on-Trent by Royal Mail and now it wants to get rid of another 400. We say enough's enough.
"We have to keep the Stoke-on-Trent customer resource open for the local community, the local economy and local jobs."
During the day, the Media Way premises are used by customer care staff to answer telephone calls and correspondence and to work on sales and promotional campaigns.
From 5.30pm, Royal Mail data entry workers use the building to decipher addresses which cannot be read by mail machines.
Mr Barron added: "The Etruria site has capacity for growth so Royal Mail should be looking at bringing more work here."
A Royal Mail spokesman said: "We are currently reviewing customer services accommodation across the country and have been keeping our team at Stoke-on-Trent informed.
"No decisions have been made about the outcome of the review and certainly the information we have provided should not be interpreted to indicate the closure of the centre in 12 to 18 months' time."
North Staffordshire's Labour MPs are backing the CWU campaign to keep Etruria open and are lobbying the business community for support.
Earlier this week Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Tristram Hunt, whose constituency covers Etruria, asked the Government if it had assessed the possible impact on Stoke-on-Trent of Royal Mail's restructuring, only to be told it was "an operational matter for Royal Mail".
Mr Hunt said today: "I will pressure the Government to consider the harm this could do."