Czech Post is set to close 56 branches in the Moravian-Silesian region, 35 in Prague and 27 in the Usti region, as part of a plan to reduce the number of branches to 2,900 by July 1, a decrease of 300, according to an internal document obtained by the Czech News Agency.
Eight branches are set to be closed in the Vysočina region, while other areas will see between 13 and 24 units shut down. Czech Post will release a list of specific closures on Friday, and the company expects to serve 115 fewer towns and villages across the country. The government is expected to approve a proposal enabling the branch closures next week.
Jindřiška Budweiserová, chairwoman of the largest postal unions, said the closures would lead to the loss of around 1,600 jobs among the company’s 25,000 employees. Budweiserova called the move another cost-cutting measure that would not solve the financial crisis problem at Czech Post.
Local politicians, including Opava Mayor Tomáš Navrátil, criticized the company’s move and accused Czech Post of neglecting to communicate with local authorities. Navrátil said the closures would be a great shame, and the plan would significantly impact the city.
“We will negotiate with the post office,” Navrátil said. “We learned of this through the media, and no one from the postal service or the Ministry of the Interior discussed this with us. Minister Rakušan’s plan will have a major impact on all of us. We disagree with this step and will negotiate with the post office.”
The Czech Telecommunications Office approved the proposal on Wednesday to reduce the number of post offices for the government, which means the legislative process will be accelerated where possible. However, the proposal will still need to be approved by the government’s Legislative Council after being discussed with affected parties.
Despite the protests, the decision to close branches was driven by the company’s financial difficulties. According to a report in Prague Morning, Czech Post saw a drop in revenue of CZK 1.1bn ($51m) in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The economic crisis and the effects of Covid-19 have hit the post office hard, resulting in a loss of revenue,” said Czech Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček, adding that the closures would not affect the quality of services provided by Czech Post.