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CWU claims 20,000 jobs could be lost, as it expresses concerns over changes announced by Royal Mail

CWU claims 20,000 jobs could be lost, as it expresses concerns over changes announced by Royal Mail

Royal Mail has announced it is suspending normal Saturday postal services until further notice.

According to the company, which was privatised in 2013, letters will no longer be delivered on Saturdays from 2 May, however, Special Delivery, Tracked items and most other parcels will continue to be delivered. Normal service is set to continue from Monday to Friday.

A statement on the Royal Mail website said;

‘Our postmen and postwomen are working very hard across the UK in challenging conditions. ‘As we said at the start of the coronavirus crisis, there will be some disruption to services. Relevant factors include high levels of coronavirus-related absences and necessary social distancing measures. 

‘We understand the importance of the postal service in keeping the UK connected at this time. We have also listened to our hard-working colleagues who have asked us to ease the additional burden on them if possible.

‘As a result, we are making some temporary changes to postal services.'

However, despite the statement from Royal Mail, the Communications and Workers' Union (CWU) has expressed fears that the measures may be permanent and represent a reduction of the six-day USO (Universal Service Obligation).

Royal Mail is the designated Universal Service Provider for postal services in the UK (often referred to as Universal Service Obligation). As the Universal Service Provider, Royal Mail must meet minimum requirements, as set out under the Postal Services Act 2011. These minimum requirements state that there must be;

  • At least one delivery of letters every Monday to Saturday to every address in the UK.
  • At least one delivery of other parcels every Monday to Friday to every address in the UK.

These minimum requirements can only be altered with the consent of the UK Parliament, but exceptions from normal requirements may be granted in the case of an emergency. An Ofcom spokesman told The Speaker Media Limited;

"Royal Mail has decided to make this change to help it meet significant challenges during the coronavirus emergency. Royal Mail has been very clear this is a temporary change, and the company will keep us informed as it keeps the situation under review."

Speaking on a Facebook live video on Tuesday evening, Terry Pullinger, Deputy General Secretary (Postal) at the CWU expressed fears that the measures would become permanent. Mr Pullinger said;

"What they're looking to impose [Royal Mail] and they're not putting a time limit on it, they're saying it will be reviewed as we go forward - this absolutely will be a reduction of the six-day USO.

I do not believe that unless they're forced to do it by the government or the regulator, unless they seem to be implying that they got agreement to do this with those people, then this is a massive reduction in our public service, reducing our letter deliveries from six days to five.

Part of our dispute people would have heard the message, that potentially costs us over 20,000 jobs, 20,000 decent people who put themselves on the front line during this pandemic and been highly acclaimed for doing so and rightly so, putting themselves in harms way to deliver what has been classed as an absolute vital service"

Mr Pullinger added that in his opinion, Royal Mail "have declared war on this trade union, they have declared war on this great public service and they have declared war on our members and the employees of Royal Mail".

As of last year, Royal Mail employed 162,000 people. In March 2020, CWU members working for the postal service delivered a 94.5% YES vote in favour of strike action but offered to act as a 'new emergency service' amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

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