Royal Mail boss plans to step down following union deal

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The boss of Royal Mail has quit the top job in order to allow the company to move on following a bruising fight with its main union which finally concluded last month.

The announcement of Simon Thompson’s departure comes weeks after agreeing a deal with the Communication Workers Union which brought to an end a year of postal strikes.

He has been in the role for just two years and will step down by the end of 2023. The union said more change is needed at the top even after his departure.

In his time in charge, Mr Thompson has overseen the first set of strikes since Royal Mail was privatised and a massive and expensive cybersecurity breach, while he was hauled back in front of MPs who accused him of giving them incorrect information.

He will leave the job at the end of October, but will continue to pick up his salary every month for half a year after that in lieu of notice, giving him around £289,000.

He will also be in line for a bonus and get to claim up to £17,500 towards legal fees linked to his departure.

“I have been incredibly proud to lead Royal Mail during this crucial period in its 507-year history,” Mr Thompson said.

“The changes we have made, the infrastructure we have put in place and the agreements negotiated with our trade unions mean that Royal Mail now has a chance to compete and grow.

Royal Mail strike
Members of the Communication Workers Union carry placards of Mr Thompson during a rally outside Parliament in December (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“I would like to thank my team for their support during a difficult and important time of change.”

Last month, Royal Mail agreed a deal with the CWU which would see staff get a 10% salary increase and a £500 one-off payment.

There was little love lost between the boss and the union, and Mr Thompson’s departure was immediately celebrated by the CWU, which posted a picture to its Twitter account.

Mr Thompson had often been a target of union ire and his face was plastered across many signs on the picket line.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: “Simon Thompson is one of the key individuals responsible for the financial crisis that Royal Mail Group has created over the course of the last year.

“The CEO was also one of the key people responsible for the appalling mantra of ‘it’s our business to run’ that saw the employer openly attack its own workforce on a relentless basis, including developing a culture of imposition which has now created quality of service and USO (Universal Service Obligation) failures on a scale which threatens the future of the company.

“However, we recognise that the CEO was only one of the senior leadership team responsible for the unacceptable actions and behaviours of managers across the UK throughout this dispute. Further change in Royal Mail Group’s leadership team is vital.

“It is important that the next Royal Mail Group CEO is somebody who understands the only way to turn around the fortunes of the company is by taking the workforce with them.”

Keith Williams, who chairs the parent company, said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Simon for his significant contribution over more than five years at Royal Mail, both as CEO and previously as a non-executive director of the board.

“As CEO, his leadership, resilience and unwavering drive to ensure that Royal Mail transforms for the benefit of our customers means we have set a clear path to turn the business around.

“We are grateful for his dedication and what he has achieved at the company, and wish him well for the future.”

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