Royal Mail has scrapped Saturday letter deliveries until further notice due to coronavirus.
From this weekend onwards, the group will “temporarily” no longer deliver letters on a Saturday.
Deliveries already do not happen on a Sunday, so more people will face waiting into the following week for their letters to arrive.
However, Royal Mail insisted “most” parcels, as well as Special Delivery, Tracked and all non-account services, will continue being delivered six days per week.
Saturday collections from businesses, post office branches and post boxes also continue as normal.
It’s understood the firm took the decision to reduce the burden on staff. The nature of some posties’ work has had to change due to social distancing rules. Some are also off sick or self-isolating due to the virus, which means there are fewer staff to deal with incoming post.
But the move was blasted by the Communication Workers’ Union, which represents posties and hinted it could even lead to a strike.
Changes to Royal Mail services start next week
A CWU spokesman said: “We will be seeking urgent discussions with the government on this issue. The reduction of the Universal Service Obligation was a key factor in our live national strike ballot.
“The last thing we want to do is call strike action at this point but we will not sit back and see our members’ jobs put at threat and the service to the public worsened.”
The CWU called in March for households’ deliveries to be cut to three days a week due to Covid-19.
The move was blasted today by the Communication Workers’ Union
(Image: In Pictures via Getty Images)
A union spokesman insisted the service would have still run six days a week under that plan – but deliveries would have happened on alternate days, rather than being dropped on Saturday.
The CWU said it has since dropped that request after further arrangements were put in place.
It’s thought managers were told the move had been confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
In a video for staff, Nick Landon, Royal Mail’s chief customer officer, said posties have been under “incredible pressure” for a month and “need some relief”.
“We want to lessen the load for deliveries across that weekend, making us focus on the parcels to clear all of that traffic,” he said.
The video said there will be some “temporary changes” to delivery duties from May 11. Staff will be given more information shortly.
A statement posted on Royal Mail’s 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.
“Customers should continue to post both letters and parcels as usual on Saturday. We will continue our Saturday collections from businesses, post offices and post boxes as normal.”
Royal Mail managing director for regulation Shane O’Riordain added: “We have been in dialogue with the Government and Ofcom since the beginning of this crisis.
“We will keep the temporary change in Saturday postal arrangements under review.”