Hundreds of jobs could be axed and the postal service permanently plagued by delays due to “ridiculous” plans to close mail centres, a union has claimed.

Royal Mail has unveiled proposals to close two central London mail centres, including its hub in Nine Elms, as part of a £2bn investment and modernisation programme.

Its announcement rocked the Battersea-based site’s 1,150 employees, sparking fears that compulsory redundancies may be forced through should the move go ahead.

Greg Charles, London south west branch secretary for the Communication Workers Union (CWU), said staff were “devastated” by the news.

He said: “There’s just an air of uncertainty around. They really don’t know what’s going on - there’s been limited briefings.

“They are scared what the future holds for them.”

Mr Charles claimed Royal Mail’s closure proposals were introduced to enable the company to make a “fast buck” by selling the site.

He promised to “fight these ridiculous plans” and predicted closures such as this would lead to a decline in the standard of the postal service and result in delays for customers, with much of the work being relocated to centres outside the capital.

He said: “Closing mail centres in London will lead to a poorer service and will hit business and homes alike at a time when it can ill afford it.

“We will be aiming to build relationships with the community to get the message out that closing Nine Elms will have an impact on the service we provide for them.”

The CWU is calling for support from the borough’s MPs - and asking the public to let their feelings known to councillors and MPs.

A spokeswoman for Royal Mail said it was “too early to speculate on the future of any site”.

She said: “No final decisions have been made but it is recognised by both Royal Mail and the CWU that we have more mail centres than we need due to lower volumes of mail and a significant reduction is required. This affects London as elsewhere.

“We are continuing to consult with the unions about a proposal to close two central London mail centres in Nine Elms Lane and Twelve Trees Crescent, Bromley by Bow, and transfer work to Mount Pleasant and our outer London mail centres in Greenford, Feltham, Romford and Croydon.

“Royal Mail has an excellent track record of supporting people through changes and we are committed to continuing this. We expect to reach a final decision in the New Year.”

• What do you think? Let us know by emailing, phone the newsdesk on 020 8330 9533 or leave a comment below.