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Royal Mail Northern Ireland office "suspends all letter deliveries" until end of week due to Covid-19

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Royal Mail Northern Ireland office "suspends all letter deliveries" until end of week due to Covid-19

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A Royal Mail sorting office has "suspended letter deliveries" until "at least Friday" because half of all staff are absent due to Covid-19, according to a union rep.

The sorting office in Derry, based on Great James Street, is currently without 60 of its 120 workforce due to the virus.

It is understood that 24 staff are currently off due to Covid-19 and 36 are self-isolating.

The workforce at the office staged a walkout on October 20 demanding a deep clean of the premises before they returned to work.

Royal Mail told Belfast Live that customers in the Derry area may "experience a reduction in service levels due to Coronavirus-related absences".

The postal service said it took the health and safety of staff, customers and the local communities "very seriously".

Charlie Kelly, from the Communication Workers' Union (CWU), told Belfast Live that staff were still feeling "very anxious" ahead of the busy Christmas period.

He said: "I believe that management is hoping to have more staff back within the next week but until at least Friday the sorting office is only focusing on delivering packages rather than letters.

"That has been happening over the last week because the situation has escalated within the last week. We now have around 60 staff off due to coronavirus and four other staff off due to other issues and you can only imagine the pressure that puts the workforce.

"We have been like this now since March - due to the restrictions people are naturally shopping more online and that is putting further pressure on staff to deliver everything on time.

"And the staff are still feeling incredibly uneasy about the entire situation. We are about to go into what is usually the busiest time of the year for us. Half the staff are currently off and the virus doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.

"It's not the case that we can work from home, we have to be out in the public delivering items everyday.

"The Derry office was the hardest hit Royal Mail office in the entire of the UK and we are feeling the effects of that.

"People are wondering where their mail has been in the last week but there is only so much that we can do in the current situation.

"There is genuine concern within the office that we are not going to get everything delivered before Christmas if the current situation persists.

"I would hate to be waiting on something important in Derry this Christmas because it's a very bleak situation to be involved with at the minute."

A spokesperson for Royal Mail added: "We have completed several intensive cleans of the building and we are carrying out additional daily cleans of communal areas and common touchpoints. We are working to resolve any additional concerns with our colleagues and our union. We continue to deliver the mail locally.


"Despite our best endeavours, customers in the Derry area, like other areas across the UK, may experience a reduction in service levels due to Coronavirus-related absences. We are working hard to deliver the most comprehensive service we can to all our customers in challenging circumstances.

"We always try to keep our customers as informed as we can of any changes to our services. We thank our customers for their patience at this time.

“Throughout this crisis, every decision we make puts the health of our people and customers first.

"As well as encouraging good hand hygiene, standard ways of working have been revised to ensure that colleagues support appropriate social distancing at all times. All colleagues have been briefed about the social distancing measures jointly agreed by local management and the CWU.

"This has been supplemented with visible reminders such as posters and one-way floor markings. Personal Protective Equipment is available to all. We have put in place a range of preventive measures to protect both our customers and our colleagues.

"We were the first UK company to put in place social-distancing measures in relation to parcel delivery.

"We pioneered contact-free delivery. We are temporarily not handing over our hand-held devices to customers to capture signatures.”
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