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CWU calls on Royal Mail to bring in emergency coronavirus changes

Union says company needs to act urgently to protect staff – and should operate as a vital national service rather than a for-profit company during the crisis

COMMUNICATIONS union the CWU has written to Royal Mail calling for emergency changes to protect postal workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The union is demanding that postal workers be given personal protective equipment and that post offices that cannot ensure this and enforce social distancing guidelines should close until they can.

And it says the company should cease operating as a commercial venture and “operate as a vital national service in line with the government giving postal workers key worker status” so that “Royal Mail’s unrivalled infrastructure [can be] utilised in helping the country deal with the coronavirus crisis.”

The text of the union’s letter to Royal Mail’s Switzerland-based chief executive Rico Back is below.

 

Dear Rico,

The CWU has given further consideration to the fast moving Coronavirus crisis and how this is impacting on frontline workers, the country and the ability of Royal Mail Group to maintain its network operations.
 
Therefore, we are publishing this letter and the statement below to our members, the Government and to the media.  The statement sets out what we believe is the right position for the company and the Government to immediately adopt in relation to Royal Mail Group and the services it provides.  
 
This will ensure Personal Protective Equipment is in place for all employees, minimise the further spread of the virus and save lives, whilst maintaining an emergency network with prioritised services.
 
Emergency Network
 
The company should immediately introduce an emergency network based on the following principles:-
 
• If Personal Protective Equipment 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 (2 metres apart), then the office should be closed until this is rectified.  Additional measures in this statement are designed to support the introduction of strict social distancing in every Royal Mail Group workplace.

• 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.

• The Government contracts enabling public testing and the delivery of Government information to the public must be prioritised.

• 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.

• As a strictly one-off resolution to the current crisis, Daily deliveries should be reduced to three times a week with only parcels/packets and first class mail being delivered on alternate days.

• Royal Mail should make an immediate public statement on the above mentioned introduction of an emergency network.

• All employees should only be compelled to work alternate days there by cutting in half the amount of people in any operational unit on any one day, this to enable strict social distancing and total equipment cleansing prior to each day.
 
• Every effort should now be made to secure the testing of RMG employees to identify and respond to high risk in all units.

• Everyone over 65 should only be at work if they are happy to do so and if not should be placed on Special Leave with Full Pay for the duration of the crisis.
 
• All vulnerable/at risk employees as identified by Public Health England advice should all now be on full pay for absences relating to coronavirus.
 
• All employees with vulnerable/at risk people at home should be allowed 12wks on full pay.
 
• Where someone within the work location has been diagnosed with the virus, the workplace should be shut for a deep clean before re-opening for business.
 
• The use of private cars as a contingency measure should cease.

• Agency workers should only be used in the event that there is a genuine shortfall in the alternative working daily resourcing and the prioritised delivery of 1st & 2nd Class USO Mail and parcels. (all agency must meet strict vetting criteria).
 
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.

Yours sincerely

Dave Ward           Terry Pullinger
GS                           DGSP

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