Northern Ireland news

Half of Derry sorting office staff absent due to Covid-19

Half of the workforce at Royal Mail's Derry sorting office are absent due to Covid-19. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

HALF of the workforce at Derry’s Royal Mail sorting office are off due to Covid-19.

Staff at the Great James Street sorting office refused to go into the building last Tuesday over concerns about the number of colleagues reporting Covid-19 issues.

They returned on Wednesday following a deep clean of the facility.

However, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) reported a further rise in Covid-19 linked issues yesterday.

CWU spokesman, Charlie Kelly – who himself was diagnosed positive on Friday – said half of the 120-strong workforce was now absent because of the virus.

The absentee rate is impacting on efforts to clear a backlog of mail in Derry.

“We’ve 60 who are absent among the total workforce but that total includes some of the managers so it’s more than half of the postal staff,” Mr Kelly said.

He said the union had been “flagging up” the issue with Royal Mail management for some time.

“It’s very worrying. Both my wife and I have tested positive for Covid-19 now and she doesn’t go out as she has underlying health issues so as far as I’m concerned, I brought it into the house,” Mr Kelly said.

A Royal Mail spokesman said the organisation took the health and safety of its staff, customers and local communities very seriously and had put several measures in place as a result.

“A number of colleagues have tested positive for coronavirus at the Derry Delivery Office. They are now recuperating at home and we wish them a speedy recovery," he said.

"Some colleagues are also self-isolating. We have completed an intensive clean of the building and this has caused a minor disruption to service. We are working to resolve any additional concerns with our colleagues and our union."

Derry Sinn Féin assembly member, Martina Anderson called on Royal Mail to hire additional staff and to establish a temporary location for the sorting office so that backlogs could be cleared.

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