New Zealand postal service to cut up to 2,000 jobs as mail deliveries dwindle to 3 days a week

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand’s postal service announced Friday it plans to cut up to 2,000 jobs as it transitions to delivering the mail just three days a week to most customers.

The job cuts amount to about one-fifth of the service’s workforce and will be implemented over three years.

As part of the cutbacks, the familiar sight of postal workers cycling their routes will disappear. Workers will use a combination of motorized vehicles and walking as they deliver more parcels and far fewer letters.

New Zealand Post made the announcement after the government last week agreed to allow it to reduce its six-day delivery service from mid-2015 in urban areas.

Rural residents, who make up about 12 per cent of customers, will get their mail delivered five days a week.

The service said mail volume is dropping at more than 7 per cent each year. The rate is accelerating as customers increasingly turn to the Internet to communicate and pay their bills.

Many countries are grappling with a decline in mail volumes, although few have proposed such steep delivery cuts as New Zealand.

“New Zealanders are well aware that our traditional letter mail business is in irreversible decline. Letter volumes have fallen 30 per cent since 2006, and we are facing further significant decline within the next five years,” said New Zealand Post Chairman Michael Cullen in a statement. “The financial position of the traditional business has deteriorated to a point where it would be irresponsible not to take action.”