Pressure mounting on Royal Mail chief Simon Thompson after he is slammed by MPs and regulators
The future of Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson is in doubt after he was criticised by MPs and regulators.
In a damning report published today, the House of Commons business committee accused him of ‘either an unacceptable level of incompetence or an unacceptable level of cluelessness’.
It also said Thompson ‘intentionally or inadvertently’ misled MPs and called on Ofcom to investigate – prompting a further broadside from the regulator.
Grilling: Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson (pictured) was accused of ‘either an unacceptable level of incompetence or an unacceptable level of cluelessness’
‘Royal Mail’s recent performance is clearly well short of where it should be,’ Ofcom said. ‘We’re very concerned about this and have asked the company to explain what it’s doing to bring service levels back up, as a matter of urgency.’
‘Ofcom is preparing its own assessment and ‘won’t hesitate to take enforcement action’.
The comments pile pressure on Thompson as he struggles to turn Royal Mail around in the face of a wave of strikes and mounting losses.
In its report, the committee said it had breached its universal service obligation (USO), which compels it to deliver letters six days a week.
It cited evidence some workers were told to prioritise parcels over letters. MPs also asked the Information Commissioner to investigate claims Royal Mail used data from personal digital assistants (PDAs) to track workers.
The company denies this is its policy. But the report accused Thompson of ‘intentionally or inadvertently’ misleading MPs when he said it was not his understanding PDA data was used to monitor performance.
‘I find it hard to believe that such widespread breaches of company policy and legal obligations are down to a national network of rogue workers conspiring against management,’ said committee chairman Darren Jones MP.
‘We were inundated with evidence from postal workers challenging the accuracy of answers given by Simon Thompson.
‘The failures in company policy which Mr Thompson admitted to can only be due to either an unacceptable level of incompetence or an unacceptable level of cluelessness about what is happening at Royal Mail.
Hiding behind the pandemic as a driving factor in failures does not cut it.
‘Ofcom must start enforcement proceedings to ensure everyone gets a consistent service wherever they are.’
Royal Mail rejected claims it misled the committee, saying it had ‘answered in detail the questions asked’ and was reviewing policies around deliveries.
It said ‘challenges’ facing the business and the USO ‘cannot be ignored’. ‘We urge the Government, Ofcom and all stakeholders to work with us to ensure we have a financially sustainable universal service for many years to come,’ a spokesman said.