Postal workers facing 'cocktail of challenges' during busy Christmas period, union says

Postal workers across the country are suffering a "cocktail of challenges" during the busiest time of year for the industry, a union boss has said.

Terry Pullinger, deputy general secretary at the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said in an open letter that the impact of Covid on Royal Mail has been exacerbated by "the great annual challenge of Christmas period pressure" as well as "inaccurate data, inadequate planning and poor/slow decision-making".Mr Pullinger has also cited staffing shortages in the letter. He also mentioned "challenges of resourcing and workload" in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Commenting on the CWU's Facebook page, postal worker Lee Davies said: "Deliveries aren't as normal at all. Xmas pressure started weeks ago and no extra vans or relief workers.

"Staff are running on empty, stressed, anxiety and exhausted. Customers aren't getting the service they deserve and expect."

Jay Petty said: "Personally think we’re doing an amazing job considering the Covid situation. We can’t work from home and every postie is doing their best… if it takes a bit longer, just be grateful."

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Alongside Christmas presents, Royal Mail has also faced the challenge of delivering Covid tests to homes as demand increased over the past week.

As Omicron spreads and Covid cases soar, government websites reported that postal rapid lateral flow tests were “not available" earlier this week, while people trying to book walk-in PCR tests also encountered problems.

On Monday, Sajid Javid said the low availability of tests was not due to shortages, branding the current arrangements with Royal Mail alone as “not enough”.

The health secretary told MPs in Parliament that he has agreed new arrangements with Amazon and others to address the problem.

However, on Wednesday, deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said that the "brilliant" Royal Mail will be “allowing us to more than double our delivery capacity from Friday, so going from 400,000 home deliveries out to nearly 900,000”.

Royal Mail has insisted that deliveries are operating "as normal" across the UK.

A spokesperson told ITV News: "In a small number of local offices this may temporarily not be possible due to local issues such as Covid-related self-isolation, high levels of sick absence, resourcing or other local factors.

"In those cases, we will rotate deliveries to minimise the delay to individual customers. We also provide targeted support to those offices to address their challenges and restore our service to the high standard our customers would normally receive."