Royal Mail resumes overseas deliveries via post offices after cyber-attack

Royal Mail workers are to hold 19 days of strike action over pay and terms and conditions during the peak postal build-up to Christmas.

Royal Mail has restarted international parcel and letter deliveries through Post Office branches almost six weeks after it revealed it had been affected by a ransomware cyber-attack that left it battling to get its international services back up and running.

It refused to pay an $80m (£67m) ransom sought by hackers linked to Russia after the “cyber incident”, which resulted in 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK being unable to handle international mail or parcels.

“We have worked day and night in partnership with Royal Mail to reinstate all international services via our branch network,” said Neill O’Sullivan, the managing director of parcels and mails at the Post Office.

“Postmasters have been the innocent victims of this faceless crime, unable to support businesses and consumers wishing to use their expertise to get parcels sent abroad.”

The Post Office said branch operators would be provided with “additional remuneration” for handling international items, in the form of a fixed payment for each transaction, as well as an additional commission for all Royal Mail international labels sold in branches during February and March.

“These past weeks have been difficult for postmasters who through no fault of their own have missed out on remuneration for providing international mail services,” O’Sullivan said. “Postmasters are operating in a tough economic climate and this package of remuneration improvements should help rebuild their earnings from international parcels.”

It emerged last week that Royal Mail rejected an “absurd” ransom demand from the hackers in exchange for decrypting the files.

While its services are back running at full capacity, the company is poised to face another round of strikes by its 115,000 postal workers in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions. Last week, members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) voted overwhelmingly to strike after 18 days of action last year. No dates for further stoppages have yet been set.

The company has said it is losing £1m a day and warned in October that up to 10,000 jobs needed to be cut by August 2023 as part of a restructuring programme to refocus the business on the booming parcel delivery sector, as UK letter volumes continue to decline.

“We are pleased that customers can now buy postage for international export parcels to all destinations in Post Office branches over the counter,” said a spokesperson for Royal Mail. “This follows the restoration of international export parcel services on shipping platforms over the last few weeks. We are now processing close to normal daily volumes of international export mail with some delays.”