Royal Mail Seacroft: Mother's Day cards delivered days late as staff complain of ‘dire’ management at Leeds site

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Royal Mail staff in Leeds have said that “dire” management at the sorting office has resulted in Mother’s Day cards being delivered days late.

Two members at the sorting office in Seacroft have told the Yorkshire Evening Post that management are telling them to prioritise tracked packages such as Amazon deliveries over regular mail as they are more lucrative for the company. They said that staff are also being told not to place undelivered mail in to cages at the end of their shifts so that it is not properly monitored.

There were also claims of “bullying” from management and it was stated that the postal digital assistants (PDAs) posties have to carry during their rounds are used to track them and discipline them, which was compared to a form of “Big Brother”.

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Royal Mail has responded saying that it had “sufficient resources” in place to deliver Mother’s Day cards on time and that it does not prioritise any parcels. The company also said that the claims the centre was purposefully not monitoring unsent letters were “categorically untrue” and that it has a “zero tolerance” approach to bullying. It also added that PDAs are used to assist customers and not to track or communicate with staff.

Staff at the Royal Mail sorting office in Seacroft, Leeds, say that 'bullying' from staff has created a 'harsh and aggressive' atmosphere. Photo: Simon HulmeStaff at the Royal Mail sorting office in Seacroft, Leeds, say that 'bullying' from staff has created a 'harsh and aggressive' atmosphere. Photo: Simon Hulme
Staff at the Royal Mail sorting office in Seacroft, Leeds, say that 'bullying' from staff has created a 'harsh and aggressive' atmosphere. Photo: Simon Hulme

The latest accusations come after a committee of MPs last week recommended Royal Mail to the postal services regulator Ofcom for breaching its requirement to deliver letters across the country six days a week. This was said to be down to “widespread evidence of the company’s deprioritisation of letters over parcels”.

The report said the company had “systematically failed to deliver” the so-called universal service obligation (USO) and that chief executive Simon Thompson was “not wholly accurate” in answers he gave to MPs on the use of technology to track and discipline workers.

A member of staff at the sorting office in Seacroft also got in touch last year to say that staff were “disgusted” at how the company was being run, sharing pictures of letters “left to rot” at the centre.

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One member of staff spoken to by the YEP this week said: “It’s getting worse and worse. We have been delivering Mother’s Day letters late and getting grief but it’s because we’re constantly being told to focus on tracked items.”

He said that staff were being told not to place mail in cages overnight as a matter of “health and safety” but that all posties firmly believe that this is so they are not monitored properly as there is a “loophole” in the universal service obligation (USO).

The YEP was told: “We are being told not even to sort our mail now and to leave it elsewhere, which means it doesn’t class as a USO failure. It also means that rather than come back in the morning and it’s ready to go we have to organise it then, which takes up more time.”

He also said that overtime has been cut, which has an even greater adverse impact on delivery time.

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Staff have allegedly been told that – following previous stories run in the press demonstrating the goings on at the centres – if management find out who took pictures within the premise or informed the press that they will be sacked. They also claimed that IT services have been used to try and establish the model of the phone used to take the pictures so that they can find the culprits.

"It’s absolutely dire”, one staff member said. “The bullying and intimidation going on is horrendous.”

It was also claimed that staff members were being disciplined based off of data collected from the PDAs they take on their rounds, with staff say has added to a “harsh and aggressive atmosphere”.

One member of staff said: “The fact is there’s too much to do. It’s impossible the size of mail we’re faced with.

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"It’s really terrible. It’s destroyed a lot of trust and faith in a public body. As posties we see ourselves as part of the community.”

In response to the claims of prioritising tracked items, a Royal Mail spokesperson said: “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.

"Due to the amount of space they take up, parcels can restrict the movement of both people and mail in our offices, leading to health and safety issues and delays to other mail. At particularly busy times, such as in the recovery days after a strike, we may occasionally at a local level clear parcels to free up space and address health and safety concerns so that we can keep all mail - including letters - moving efficiently through our network.”

On the matter of late deliveries of Mother’s Day cards they said: “We are operating as normal locally, including over the weekend when it was Mother’s Day. We have sufficient resources in place to manage our anticipated workload locally.”

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On the issue of bullying they said: “We have zero tolerance for bullying or harassment. 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.”

On the PDAs, they said: “Customers increasingly expect estimated times for their deliveries and confirmation when an item has been delivered. Our postal digital assistants (PDAs) allow Royal Mail to provide real-time delivery information to our customers by predicting the time that a postal route will take on any given day. This allows customers to plan ahead or redirect their parcel if they are not going to be in. We do not use our PDAs for real-time tracking of our people's movements, or to communicate with them through their PDAs on their real-time performance.”

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