'We're sitting ducks': Edinburgh postie urges Royal Mail to provide PPE for staff

The CWU has labelled lack of PPE a ‘disgrace’.

Friday, 3rd April 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 5:25 pm

An Edinburgh postman has said staff do not feel safe to work due to a lack of PPE provided by Royal Mail.

The postman, who works in Edinburgh but does not want to be named, said he and colleagues do not have access to antibacterial wipes, and have only sporadic access to hand sanitiser and gloves.

“We get told the golden rule is to wash hands but when you’re out on delivery everywhere is shut so it’s impossible to do, and it’s impossible to keep two metres apart.” he said.

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“People at home are treating it like a second Christmas so we’re hammered every day with packets, which makes the spread of the virus a high risk.

“This is why Royal Mail are treating us so badly, they’re making the shareholders a fortune and we’re sitting ducks!”

He added: “We the posties want to work, but it has to be safe for us to work.”

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The postman’s complaints are echoed by the Communication Workers Union, which has advised Royal Mail staff not to work without adequate PPE.

In a Facebook live broadcast to members on Tuesday General Secretary Dave Ward asked workers “Have you got the right PPE in place, gloves, sanitisers…?”

If the answer is no, he said, then the message from CWU is clear: “You should not be working and we will back you.”

He added: “This should be a national service working through a national crisis – but our members are not fodder and they will not be thrown under the bus.”

A Tweet from CWU describing their response to the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis read: “Our members continued to work in difficult circumstances. Some of the lack of PPE, dirty workplaces and lack of social distancing are a disgrace.”

The CWU has urged Royal Mail to change the nature of the service and focus on essential deliveries during the crisis.

It has called for a suspension of all non-essential D2D (unaddressed) delivery, the prioritisation of medical equipment and services to vulnerable people, and alternating working days to reduce the number of people in a workplace at the same time.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “Royal Mail takes the health and safety of our colleagues very seriously. Throughout this crisis, every decision we make puts the health of our people and our customers first.”

They added: “Standard ways of working are being revised to ensure that, wherever possible, colleagues stay two metres apart. We have implemented a new rule that means there will only be one person in a Royal Mail delivery vehicle at any one time.

“We have taken a number of additional measures and provided preventative guidance to our colleagues in line with public health authorities. This includes promoting regular hand washing with soap and water.

“The hand soap that we provide is effective for hand washing and good hand hygiene. We are providing disposable latex gloves to colleagues who want them. These are available on request. We have also adopted enhanced disinfectant cleaning of communal areas in all Royal Mail sites on a daily basis.”