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No decision on Consignia job losses

LONDON - Consignia chief executive John Roberts has issued a hasty statement, backtracking on its announcement that 30,000 jobs were to go, by stressing today that no final decisions had been taken.

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The statement follows a widespread backlash against the announcement yesterday, which led Prime Minister Tony Blair to say that he had not been informed of the announcement before it was made.

In a statement, Roberts pledged that Consignia wanted to handle any possible job losses by natural wastage and voluntary redundancy.

According to Roberts: "Some 20,000 employees leave Consignia every year, either through retirement or to take up jobs outside the company, so there is a great deal of scope to handle any job reductions by natural wastage."

He added: "What we have said -- and what remains unchanged -- is that Consignia needs to cut its cost base by 15% by April 2003 to ensure the company gets back into profit. A 15% saving is equivalent to cutting more than £1bn from our annual operating costs."

Earlier this week, Roberts told a House of Commons select committee that if the 15% was applied to its 200,000 staff, it could translate into up to 30,000 people. But he stressed this figure was intended as speculative.

Consignia said moves would continue on the plan to achieve cost savings and a number of areas -- including its corporate HQ, a restructuring of the loss-making UK parcels business, the Royal Mail delivery specification and outsourcing some non-core services -- were being looked at.

"No one anywhere in Consignia can escape the reality of our financial position," he said. "Operating costs are rising more quickly than revenue, and postage prices are falling in real terms."

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