Royal Mail has hit back at an online petition demanding posties are provided with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), insisting it has shelled out over £25m on gloves, masks and hand sanitisers for its workforce.
The petition was launched by Danny Hughes, and attracted 193,798 signatories – over 150,000 in the past 24 hours alone.
Hughes, who appears to work for the postal service, wrote: “In light of this worldwide pandemic, whilst people are being instructed to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Royal Mail staff are expected to continue to work closely together in small sorting offices and complete their deliveries without any PPE provided for them.
“We are putting ourselves and our families at serious risk of contracting the virus. We are key workers but we do not have the equipment to keep us safe. Please support us by signing this petition.”
The petition follows postal workers’ claims that Royal Mail has been “putting profits before safety”; staff insist the firm has not provided them with sufficient protection from coronavirus infection. Many told the BBC told that there is a shortage of PPE, adding that social distancing while working “was almost impossible”.
However, in response to the criticism, Royal Mail countered: “The petition seems to imply that our postmen and postwomen are working without PPE. This is absolutely not the case. The safety of our colleagues is our number one priority at Royal Mail. We have recently committed more than £25 million towards PPE.
“We have good supplies of all relevant materials eg disposable gloves and hand sanitiser.
“We were the first delivery company in the UK to adopt contact-free delivery methods. Others then followed. We also implemented a range of social distancing measures eg one person per delivery van.
“We think it is important that everyone knows the facts. The safety of our colleagues is our numbers on priority. We are providing PPE.”
The petition closed late last night; it is not known whether it will now be debated by MPs or whether Royal Mail’s response has scuppered its chances. According to the Houses of Parliament website, “petitions which reach 100,000 signatures are almost always debated”.
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