SHOCK plans to axe up to 30,000 postal workers' jobs have left staff at Crewe's Royal Mail sorting office reeling.
Union bosses representing more than 700 workers at the Weston Road centre say staff are furious about the 'insensitive timing' while feeling fearful for the future of their jobs.
Crewe and Nantwich MP Gwyneth Dunwoody has pledged to do all she can to protect their jobs.
The postal service, now called Consignia, is looking at making a huge reduction to its national workforce to reduce costs.
The announcement, by chief executive John Roberts, came as a bolt out of the blue to the Union of Communication Workers.
Cheshire branch secretary Ron Evans, who works as a driver at Weston Road, said: 'The first I heard of it was when I turned on the news the other night.
'The next day I was inundated with requests for information from anxious workers here at Crewe.
'Understandably, they feel very angry this announcement was made so insensitively just before Christmas which is a time when they are expected to give that extra mile and work flat out.
'Lives are on hold. People can't plan holidays, move house or all the normal family things because they don't know whether the axe will fall on their job or not.
'And when you think your job is in jeopardy it is hard to enjoy Christmas.'
Mrs Dunwoody visited the sorting office on Saturday to meet staff dealing with the massive volume of Christmas post.
She said: 'They would do well to remember the hard work and loyalty of its workers.
'I fully appreciate how they must be feeling just before Christmas and would like them to know I will be doing all I can to protect jobs in the Crewe centre.'
But Consignia says it needs to save £1 billion by April 2003. A spokeswoman said: 'We need to cut our cost base by 15% to ensure the company goes back into profit. If that 15% was applied to our 200,000 staff it would translate to 30,000 people.
'Any staffing reductions would be made across the whole group so it is impossible to say what affect this would have on Crewe at this stage.'