Dozens of Royal Mail delivery staff have staged a walk-out after accusing bosses of failing to properly implement to social distancing rules at their depot.
Around 50 posties left Royal Mail’s Longton delivery office, in Bengry Road, yesterday morning in protest over growing concerns that they will contract coronavirus and spread it to members of the public when out on deliveries.
They claim they were having to work side-by-side – rather than the recommended two-metres apart.
Now union leader and Royal Mail have agreed measures to reduce the number of staff in the delivery office at any one time.
Jason Cornwall, branch secretary and area representative for The Communications Workers Union’s (CWU) North Staffordshire postal branch, said: “Around 50 members of staff walked out because of the health and safety conditions in the delivery office at Longton.
“They walked out because they say there has been no enforcement of social distancing in the office and it all came to a head. They walked out and refused to go back until the issue has been sorted.
“Delivery staff are risking their lives. If we work too close to each other we are at risk of picking something up, becoming a carrier of this disease, and putting the public at risk.”
Mr Cornwall added: “We feel we are putting ourselves forward at a time of national emergency and the last thing we want to do is bring the disease to people’s doors. We want to serve the public, not put them at risk.”
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Royal Mail and the CWU have now agreed that staggered arrival times for staff will be implemented at the delivery office to ensure less people are on the site at once.
It means that, from Tuesday, only half of the current office workforce will be allowed into the building to pick up letters and parcels for delivery at any one time.
Members of the public will not see any changes to their deliveries.
Royal Mail says it has already implemented a number of measures to ensure the safety of staff and the public, including not handing over hand-held devices to capture signatures, making sure only one person is in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at all times and promoting regular hand-washing. It is also providing disposable latex gloves to employees on request.
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A Royal Mail spokesman said: “There was disruption to services at Longton delivery office. We are working with our people and our CWU colleagues to resolve any areas of concern, to ensure that services are resumed as soon as possible.
“We take the health and safety of our colleagues very seriously. Throughout this crisis, every decision we make has put the health of our people first.
“We continue to follow the preventative guidance of public health authorities.”