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Post Office branches struggling after Royal Mail cyber attack

Royal Mail has restored almost all of its international services to some extent, but remains unable to accept parcels bought over the counter in a Post Office branch

Royal Mail has successfully restored almost all of its international services following the 10 January LockBit ransomware attack on its systems, but remains unable to accept new parcels bought at physical Post Office branches, although customers can drop off items for which they have bought postage online.

In an update posted today, Royal Mail said it was making progress despatching more items to more destinations.

“We continue to make progress in exporting an increasing number of items to a growing number of international destinations,” the organisation said.

“We are using alternative solutions and systems, which are not affected by the recent cyber incident and have been successfully despatching parcels and letters which were in our network before the cyber incident and our services which have recently reopened. 

“As a result of this progress and the continuing growth in capability of our alternative export solutions, we have announced the restoration of many International export services. 

Royal Mail has now reintroduced International Untracked (Priority, Standard and Economy) services for consumer and on-account customers when bought online.

Business customers can now also send International Untracked personal correspondence letter services, and three core non-personal correspondence International Standard services, again when bought online.

This is in addition to International Tracked, International Tracked and Signed and International Signed, which came back on stream last week.

However, at this time, Royal Mail is still asking customers to buy postage online before heading to their Post Office branch to drop off their items, as it remains unable to process any new parcels bought over the counter.

This said, customers can use Post Office branches to buy and send items sent via Parcelforce Worldwide, as well as International Standard and Economy letters.

“We are working hard to resume more services through Post Office branches and will provide further updates on these services as soon as possible,” said Royal Mail. “Delivery of International items may take slightly longer than usual and customers using Tracked services may notice different tracking information as items leave the UK.”

Import and domestic operations

The postal service’s import and domestic operations have not been affected by the LockBit attack.

Customers are likely to face further disruption during the coming weeks after the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) called a 24-hour strike to begin on Thursday 16 February.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said Royal Mail bosses – who were grilled before a parliamentary committee last month – had reneged on a promise to abide by long-standing industrial relations (IR) framework procedures when proposing to introduce operational changes.

Ward said this was in direct contradiction to an “unequivocal commitment” given by Royal Mail CEO Simon Thompson in a letter on 6 January, in which he said “the IR framework will apply in full”. This commitment had been instrumental in the CWU not calling further strikes, to enable both parties to get around the negotiating table.

However, the CWU now says Royal Mail has started to implement more revisions and unagreed changes while refusing to negotiate locally or apply the terms of the framework, hence its latest ballot of members.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We entered facilitated talks through Acas in good faith, believing that the CWU were serious in their claim that they wanted a resolution. In announcing further damaging strike action, the CWU have shown they are not interested in resolving this dispute and continue to focus on damaging our business further.

 “The CWU’s misguided belief that further industrial action will remove the need for change and force an improved offer, is misleading its members and risking their long-term job security. Their 18 days of industrial action have resulted in £200m losses in the year to date, cost our people around £1,800 in lost pay and inconvenienced our customers. We need to agree on changes to make our business more competitive. That is the only way to secure well-paid, long-term job security for our people. 

“In a materially loss-making company, with every additional day of strike action, we are facing the difficult choice of whether we spend our money on pay and protecting jobs or on the cost of strikes. We remain committed to talks and urge CWU to withdraw these strikes for the good of our customers and our people.”

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