Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson is set for a pay-off of up to £700,000 after quitting in the wake of a tempestuous battle with union leaders.

He will formally step down from the helm of Royal Mail in autumn, leaving the UK postal monopoly to hunt for its third chief executive in little more than two years.

The Telegraph says his departure follows a bruising fight with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) in a year-long row over pay and working conditions.

Mr Thompson, a former Apple and Ocado executive, was the focal point for union leader’s anger. Trade unionists personally attacked him over his handling of the industrial dispute.

His decision to step down comes just weeks after Royal Mail agreed a deal with the CWU that brought to an end the worst campaign of industrial action since the company was privatised in 2013.

Mr Thompson said: “I have been incredibly proud to lead Royal Mail during this crucial period in its 507-year history. The changes we have made, the infrastructure we have put in place, and the agreements negotiated with our trade unions mean that Royal Mail now has a chance to compete and grow.

Right time

“That is what I have always wanted, and it is now the right time to hand over to a new CEO to deliver the next stage of the company’s reinvention. I would like to thank my team for their support during a difficult and important time of change.”

Mr Thompson is entitled to a year’s salary, shares that have already vested, legal and “outplacement support” as well as a share of this fiscal year’s short-term bonus that could be worth as much as £90,000 if targets are hit.

The bonus would be paid at the board’s discretion, however.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the CWU, said: “(Mr Thompson) was one of the key people responsible for the appalling mantra of ‘it’s our business to run’ that saw the employer openly attack its own workforce on a relentless basis, including developing a culture of imposition which has now created quality-of-service…failures on a scale which threatens the future of the company.”

Royal Mail parent International Distributions Services (IDS) said it was in “advanced stages” of appointing Mr Thompson’s replacement.

Keith Williams, the former British Airways boss and IDS chairman, will be under pressure to find the right person after losing two chief executives in comparatively short order.

Previous CEO pay-off

Rico Back resigned as Royal Mail chief executive in May 2020, collecting a £1million pay-off after being at the head of the firm for around two years.

Mr Williams said: “As CEO, Mr Thompson’s leadership, resilience and unwavering drive to ensure that Royal Mail transforms for the benefit of our customers means we have set a clear path to turn the business around.

“We are grateful for his dedication and what he has achieved at the company, and wish him well for the future.”

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