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POSTAL workers are calling for an emergency programme of action to protect them against the coronavirus pandemic and to allow them to serve the public.
The programme, outlined in a letter from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) to the government on Monday night, includes a drastic reduction in mail deliveries and closure of sorting offices where workers are at risk.
It also offers the 100,000-plus workforce as an additional emergency service to check on people most vulnerable to the virus.
The programme suggests that Royal Mail should cease to operate as a profit-driven commercial operation for the duration of the crisis and instead become part of a united effort to deal with the effects of the virus.
The proposals also include the issuing of personal protective equipment (PPE) to all postal workers.
Signed by CWU general secretary Dave Ward and deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger, it states: “If [PPE] is not in place for all employees, or in any workplace, then that office should cease its operations until the equipment has been provided to all employees. This includes gloves and hand sanitisers.
“If social-distancing measures are not in place in line with the government advice (two metres apart), then the office should be closed until this is rectified.
“The company should cease acting as a commercial operation and instead operate as a vital national service, in line with the government giving postal workers key-worker status.
“All unaddressed advertising mail should be immediately suspended.
“In conjunction with the government we should look to maximise the opportunity for Royal Mail’s unrivalled infrastructure to be utilised in helping the country deal with the coronavirus crisis.
“This could include checking on the elderly and vulnerable to flag up any concerns, collecting and delivering food parcels and likewise with medical prescriptions and equipment.”
The CWU says that daily postal deliveries should be reduced to three days per week and that postal staff should work on alternate days to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
The union has told Royal Mail and the government: “We believe the above emergency-service principles should be introduced immediately.
“We are available to discuss with you any alternative suggestions that protect our members, help minimise the spread of the virus, whilst maximising Royal Mail as an emergency service to help the country.”
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