NHS appointment letters and new bank cards are not being prioritised, with delivery workers told to focus on parcels instead, according to a report by INews. Royal Mail denies this is the case.
Images and video reveal sorting offices were already dealing with a significant backlog due to a months-long contentious dispute between unionised Royal Mail workers and their employer before the latest wave of strike action started on Wednesday.
According to postal workers, some sorting offices are so crowded that packages are being kept outdoors in vehicles and trailers and there is “absolutely nowhere to move.”
Leaked footage and images, reportedly show Royal Mail sorting offices across Britain crammed full of trolleys piled high with parcels as workers warn that Christmas post may not be delivered on time.
A postman, working in Ayrshire who spoke on condition of anonymity, said staff are told to prioritise parcels over flat items including NHS letters, new bank cards and Christmas cards.
“We’re told to prioritise what Royal Mail class as ‘high value’ items like parcels,” he said. “What they class as ‘lower value’ stuff like people’s bank cards and hospital appointment letters are being left in the frames.”
He said it upsets him as he considers customers his friends, having built a relationship with them over his 17 years as a postman. “On a personal level, we try and get [NHS letters and bank cards] out if we spot them but there’s so much mail it’s like finding a needle in the haystack,” he added.
He said managers encourage staff to take up to 10 bags of post into their vans for the day “just so they can say the office is clear”, knowing “full well” it will be brought back because the employee will not have time to deliver it all.
Asked why he was choosing to strike, he said: “You don’t want to destroy their [the customers’] Christmas, but at the end of the day, we were going to have nothing at the end of this, we’re going to have nothing. We’re just going to survive.
“A lot of posties are conflicted because it going to let the customers down but they know they need to fight for the future. Not just for them but for Royal Mail.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We have well-developed contingency plans in place to ensure our customers are looked after, and minimise delays during CWU’s industrial action to keep people, businesses and the country connected.
“These images are not unusual for peak season when our mail centres and delivery offices process very high volumes of mail items. The images show mail in the process of being unloaded and moved through our systems for onward distribution.
“We advise customers to post items as early as possible, to ensure Christmas letters and parcels reach their destination in good time.
“Every item of mail is important to us. Royal Mail does not operate a policy of prioritising parcels. We regularly remind colleagues that the delivery, collection and processing of letters and parcels should be treated with equal importance.”