Royal Mail is ‘placing earnings earlier than security’ say employees

Postal worker in YorkImage copyright Reuters

Royal Mail is placing “profits before safety” say postal employees, who declare the corporate is failing to guard them from the danger of catching coronavirus.

There is a scarcity of gloves, masks and hand sanitiser, workers from throughout the UK have informed the BBC.

They additionally declare social distancing at work is “almost impossible”.

Royal Mail says it has invested £15m in protecting gear and that the well being and well-being of employees is their high precedence.

Over the final two weeks, employees at eight Royal Mail websites, together with three in Scotland, have walked out over security considerations. The BBC has seen footage of workers working shoulder-to-shoulder in a single sorting workplace, with restricted social distancing measures in place.

A supervisor primarily based within the north of England mentioned: “It’s more than two weeks since the lockdown and we’re in a situation where there is still a lack of PPE [personal protective equipment], there’s still a lack of sanitisers, there is still a lack of direction.”

He mentioned employees really feel as if they’re “forced to choose between their jobs and their health”.

“I’m scared that my job will be in danger if I refuse to do a task because I believe it puts me in an unsafe position,” he added.

Since the lockdown started there have been unofficial walk-outs at Royal Mail websites in Chatham, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington, Didcot, Edinburgh, Alloa and Fife.

Delivery and sorting workplace employees primarily based within the North West and the Midlands have described troublesome circumstances with “no space” to maintain safely two metres aside. They too feared for his or her jobs in the event that they raised considerations publicly.

One postman mentioned: “The buildings we work in aren’t designed for people to be able to space out. Everyone’s gathered together. We’re under each others’ skin. It’s just completely impossible”.

He additionally criticised the corporate’s response after he raised worries about inadequate provides of hand sanitiser throughout supply rounds.

“When this was all kicking off, we were saying [to management] we need this stuff. But our big boss upstairs just said ‘no you just need to wash your hands’. I’d love to wash my hands, but nowhere’s open. Everything’s shut. It’s ridiculous.”

Another postman mentioned: “We are touching 850 letterboxes with no protection. Coronavirus is spoken about like a nuisance at my office.”

“It’s not too much to ask to be equipped for the job,” he added.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents 1000’s of postal employees, accuses Royal Mail of being sluggish to behave in response to the disaster.

North West divisional rep Ian Taylor mentioned it had been “busier than Christmas” with parcels and mentioned it was crucial that protecting gear reached frontline employees.

The CWU estimates that 20% of Royal Mail employees are at present off work. That equates to round 26,000 postmen and postwomen who’re both sick or self-isolating, at a time when parcel deliveries have soared as extra folks store on-line through the lockdown.

“People really do need to think about what they are buying at this particular time, it’s placing incredible strain on frontline posties,” Mr Taylor mentioned.

Postal employees informed the BBC that they had been ‘exhausted’ by the additional workload, delivering gadgets like home gymnasium kits and backyard furnishings, in addition to junk or promoting mail.

To ease the workload, Royal Mail has modified its coverage on spam. It will now solely be delivered to folks already receiving letters or parcels.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Staff are delivering an elevated variety of parcels as folks order merchandise on-line

The firm refutes the union’s claims and says “wherever possible” employees had been being saved least two metres aside. Regular handwashing with cleaning soap and water is promoted amongst employees and there’s “enhanced disinfectant cleaning of communal areas.” The firm has purchased 400,000 bottles of hand sanitiser, it mentioned.

A Royal Mail spokesperson mentioned: “In assessing the dangers to our folks and making the mandatory operational adjustments to guard them, we take skilled medical and well being and security recommendation every day.

“We have already made a series of adjustments to our parcel-handling procedures to protect our colleagues and our customers.”