Chaos at Banbury sorting office as staff accuse Royal Mail of trying to convert to Amazon-style 'gig economy'
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Angry and despondent staff say many Mums did not get their Mother’s Day mail until days after the event because of the piles of undelivered letters.
They said local management were ‘brilliant’ but senior managers in Royal Mail ‘haven't a clue and don't allow local management to make decisions’.
A contact on behalf of the Banbury sorting office said: “Banbury delivery office is full of undelivered mail with meant mothers day gifts and cards were not delivered in time for the big day. Some didn’t get delivered until Wednesday or Thursday of the following week.
“Agency staff were told they were not needed anymore even though mail has been stacking up. We don’t have enough posties to cover all the deliveries and they have made the majority of deliveries so big the postal workers can't complete the whole of their deliveries within their shift.
"There have been huge queues at the sorting office with customers wanting to know where their mail is.”
An overtime ban meant even more failures. But staff – angry at how they and customers are being treated - refused to do ‘early sorting’ overtime. Royal Mail backed down, giving postal workers a victory.
“This was a result of showing unity. This overtime will help with clearing the massive backlog and allowing customers to get their mail,” said one.
“It seems the decisions made by the business are not being made by local management but from senior management who are just interested in target driven bonuses.
"It’s outrageous that a privatised public service should be rewarding one section’s shareholders with dividends and management bonuses while another side of it that is losing money needs financial investment and support.”
Banbury sorting office was ranked as one of the worst performing offices in the UK last week.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We have sufficient resources in place to manage our anticipated workload locally. Overtime continues to be available to colleagues when required, depending on workload.
"We are proud to provide the best pay and conditions in our industry. In an industry dominated by the ‘gig economy’, insecure work and low pay, our model sets us apart and we want to preserve it.
"Anyone who has concerns over the delivery of mail should contact customer service on 03457 740 740 or via www.royalmail.com.”
Before Christmas workers were given a ‘final and best offer’ by Royal Mail. However their union, the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) said it would mean turning Royal Mail Group into a gig-economy courier, reliant on casual labour.
They said it would mean thousands of compulsory redundancies, an inadequate, non-backdated 3.5 per cent pay increase, the CWU would no longer formally be able to supports workers at employment tribunals for pay deductions during strikes, the CWU would be transformed into a ‘company union’ to help management implement its plans, refusal to allow the CWU to negotiate local changes, later start and finishing times that will see Royal Mail abandoning the a.m. delivery period; cuts to sick pay and removal of Sunday payments.
The union said Royal Mail wants to introduce technology that will monitor postal workers every minute of the day and give no job security commitments.
CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said: “These proposals spell the end of Royal Mail as we know it and its degradation from a national institution into an unreliable, Uber-style gig economy company.
“British postal workers are facing an Armageddon moment. We urge every member of the public to stand with their postie and back them like never before.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “After 11 months of talks, making numerous improvements to our offer, based on CWU feedback and mediated talks by Acas and Sir Brendan Barber, we are deeply concerned that we have yet to reach an agreement.
"We remain committed to getting the right deal, which secures the future of Royal Mail and its workforce. We have been clear throughout the dispute that significant transformation of our network and working practices is essential for the business to survive.
"It is not sustainable for the business to be losing more than £1 million a day. Change cannot continue to be delayed. If CWU persists with further strike action, this would only serve to threaten the job security of our postmen and women and make our pay offer unaffordable.
“Sick absence is a big challenge for Royal Mail. Our sick absence is three times higher than the national average (ONS) and costs us more than £250 million. With CWU, we want to change our sick pay arrangements for employees with more than 12 months service.
"This change would not affect the first absence in a 12-month period but for every subsequent absence, they would receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for the first week of absence.
“The changes we need to make to this business will not involve any compulsory redundancies. Royal Mail has not used compulsory redundancy before. And we’re not going to start now.
“Despite losing more than £1million a day and already offering a package that pays up to 40 per cent more than our competitors, we have made a best and final pay offer worth up to nine per cent.”
A table showing each day’s delivery hot-spots is available on the Royal Mail website – https://www.royalmail.com/service-update. Click on Deliveries Today.