Postal service plans more cuts

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Norway’s postal service Posten has been undergoing years of reorganization and downsizing as managers try to reinvent the venerable institution. Now they want to eliminate Saturday mail deliveries, but politicians aren’t going along.

Norway's post offices have been closing for years. This one, at Solli Plass in Oslo, is among the survivors, at least so far. PHOTO: Views and News

Dag Mejdell, chief executive of Posten Norge AS, wrote in newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) this week that Saturday deliveries are costly and unnecessary. He claimed the state would save NOK 300 million (about USD 50 million) by inaugurating “post-free” Saturdays.

“The amount of mail on Saturdays makes up only half the volume of other weekdays,” he wrote in DN. “Our studies show that customers don’t view Saturday distribution as important.”

Mejdell said the postal service is experiencing so many changes, so quickly, that “Posten believes there should be some political evaluation regarding the appropriate use of resources, to continue the obligatory services at today’s level.”

Mejdell noted that the volume of traditional mail has fallen by 30 percent during the past 10 years. Much of it has been replaced by e-mail.

But his call for the “re-evaluation” of Saturday postal service is falling on deaf ears. Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum told DN they want to maintain Saturday mail delivery. They also want to maintain Posten’s banking services on Saturdays.

Both Norway’s left-center government and the more right-wing opposition are unwilling to drop Saturday delivery. “I don’t think distribution only five days a week is wise,” Knut Arild Hareide of the Christian Democrats told DN. The Progress Party’s Bård Hoksrud said “we are very skeptical” about dropping Saturday service, as is Ingjerd Schou of the Conservatives and Janne Sjelmo Nordås of the Center Party, part of the government coalition.

There may be more willingness to liberate Posten from some of its banking services. The issue is due to come up in Parliament later this year.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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