Royal Mail workers wearing masks, keeping safe, keeping healthy


Tuesday 10th November 2020

This week’s introduction of mandatory facemask wearing in Royal Mail indoor work situations “is not an end in itself” insists the CWU.

In light of the recent worsening Covid-19 circumstances, the company and the union have agreed this new measure and are urging full compliance – with the crucially important caveat that this must not replace other preventative, risk control measures.

Speaking today, CWU deputy general secretary postal Terry Pullinger said: “In contrast to the first lockdown, the wearing of face masks is now common-place in any under-the-roof area where people are together – be it on public transport or in shops.

“So clearly we would support this as part of an holistic approach to the safety of our members to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives, that people who are able to do so, wear masks in the workplace.

“Therefore,” Terry continued, “the disciplines that were in place during the first lockdown should be rigorously enforced once again, along with the wearing of face masks for those able to do so – i.e. two-metre social distancing, all PPE in place, one person to a van and high levels of cleanliness for all equipment and buildings.

“The CWU supports all of these safety measures being applied so long as they are applied with equal status, and local reps and members should be demanding that all of these safety measures are in place.”

CWU national health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce said: “The CWU is supporting this decision, subject to ongoing discussions, for a number of very important reasons – as we have all seen and heard on the news of the nationwide rise in infections and hospitalisations and the return to lockdown.

“As well as the general situation, the incidents of workplace infections have, according to the TUC, risen by an alarming 125 per cent over the recent period – and, with the imminent ‘Christmas Pressure’ period and the arrival of an estimated 30,000-plus seasonal casual workers soon to start in Royal Mail, this new measure is of extreme importance,” he added.

As well as insisting that the ‘mandatory masks’ measure is not an end in itself and does not replace other existing preventative, risk control measures, the union is also pressing for the urgent introduction of a workplace weekly testing regime.

Dave Joyce explained that the CWU has “formally put this forward to Royal Mail Group in order to  further improve safety, and reduce workplace transmissions and infections – as well as giving a huge reassurance to the workforce at this tough time.”

It has been agreed that masks will not be compulsory while working outside – or when seated to eat or drink in rest rooms during breaks – that visors will be provided, that masks will be changed frequently and not limited, and that medical exemptions will be applied where appropriate.

There will also be appropriate arrangements for those who rely on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions.

  • A video message on this subject featuring Dave Joyce and Shaun Davis, Royal Mail compliance & sustainability officer can be viewed below: