Northern Ireland news

Mail deliveries expected to resume following deep clean of Derry sorting office

Postal workers at Derry's Royal Mail sorting office refused to entre the building today until a deep clean was carried out. Picture by Andrew Milligan/PA
Seamus McKinney

Postal workers are hopeful that a deep clean of Derry's sorting office can be completed in time for the resumption of mail deliveries in the city.

The deep clean was ordered after postal workers refused to enter the Great James Street sorting office today following confirmation that a third of the 120-strong work force was unable to report for work due to coronavirus-related issues. The move resulted in no mail deliveries in the Derry area today.

The Communications’ Workers’ Union (CWU) said 17 members of staff tested positive for Covid-19 with 13 workers diagnosed since Friday October 16. Another 25 postal workers were self-isolating. CWU spokesman Charlie Kelly said members would not be returning to the sorting office until the deep clean was completed.

SDLP assembly member Mark H Durkan said he first raised concerns over the safety of Royal Mail staff in April and was told that strict health and safety measures were in place.

“I cannot accept that six months down the line, our postal workers, the unsung heroes of this pandemic, have been put at risk,” he said.

Sinn Féin assembly member Martina Anderson called on Royal Mail to implement a contingency plan.

Royal Mail said it had also put in place measures to ensure the safety of staff and customers.

“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.

“As well as encouraging good hand hygiene, standard ways of working have been revised to ensure that colleagues maintain appropriate social distancing at all times. All staff have been briefed about the social distancing measures jointly agreed by local management and CWU. This has been supplemented with visible reminders such as posters and one-way floor markings,” a spokesman said.

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