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Restructuring mail processing centres at the expense of 120 jobs will not affect mail delivery times, even in rural areas, New Zealand Post says.
The postal operator today announced it was shutting mail handling centres in Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin and many other centres, and consolidating operations in Auckland, Christchurch and Palmerston North.
The move will see 500 fulltime jobs lost, while about 380 new jobs will be created at the three remaining sites over two years.
NZ Post chief executive Brian Roche said the decision had not been easy to make, but it was inevitable given the steady decline in mail volumes, estimated at about 8 per cent a year.
The restructuring will save the state-owned firm between $20 million and $30m once complete by lower operating and leasing costs as well as the sale of a property in Petone.
"We would not be doing this unless there was a net financial benefit," he said.
Wellington would lose about 163 jobs, Hamilton about 129, Dunedin 73, and the satellite locations about 133. Palmerston North would get about 180 new jobs, Auckland 121 and Christchurch 75.
Roche said staff had been informed about the restructuring overnight. While the exact details had yet to be finalised the firm would honour all redundancy commitments.
The chance of relocating soon-to-be redundant staff to the three remaining locations was downplayed.
Roche also warned that further cuts could be in store as postal volumes continue to drop as consumers and businesses opt for digital alternatives to traditional mail.
"While there will be mail processing centres in three locations for the foreseeable future, in the longer term, as volumes continue to fall and changes in processes occur, further changes cannot be ruled out," Roche said.
EPMU union postal industry organiser Joe Gallagher said the announcement was devastating news for workers and their communities.
"There are a lot of people deeply fearful for their futures today. This is not a good time to find yourself on the dole queue and in the current environment it's going to be very hard to get another job with secure hours and good rates of pay," he said.
Today's announcement came just six days after NZ Post said it would be cutting between 80 and 100 managerial jobs at its corporate offices in Wellington and Auckland.
In February the firm also axed 100 jobs at its Datamail subsidiary due to an upgrade to more modern and automated equipment.
- Fairfax Media