Postal Workers Face Layoffs Amid Aggressive Restructuring

Austrian News Brief: March 2008

With the loss in November of major delivery contracts from the Austrian catalogue marketer  Quelle and the German Otto Universal Versand to Otto’s own Hermes Logistik, the Austrian Union of Postal Employees face major layoffs during 2008, primarily in parcel and logistics service division employees in Linz and Graz.

The layoffs were announced at the end of January and are expected to involve 1600 workers by the end of 2011. The contracts involve Quelle package shipping, but will not affect the catalogue mailings or returns, which will continue to be handled by the Austrian Post.

At the same time, the Post announced a “Service-Offensive” for private customers which it is reviewing in conjunction with possible evening and weekend deliveries and repeated delivery attempts, according to the online business news portal Horizont.at. The Post also intends to compete for a 20% share of the business-package market by 2010, up from the 10% previously announced.

A lack of clarity in the plans caused intense frustration among union leaders.

“The functionaries in Vienna are sitting on the sources [of information]. We are being told nothing,” said. Union leader Gerhard Fritz. A further announcement in February added a further 100 layoffs planned by 2012, further undermining confidence in the transparency of the process.

The announcement was accompanied by a year-end wage increase of 3%.

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