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Royal Mail bosses accused of pointing fingers over ‘rogue posters’

Top bosses from Royal Mail have been accused of blaming others after admitting the business had broken its own rules after posters appeared which compared how long different workers were pausing on the job.

MP Darren Jones, who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee said he found it “difficult to agree” with the bosses and accused them of pointing the finger at others.

“There’s a theme to your answers today gentlemen, there’s a theme which is: We have rogue posters, we have rogue managers, we have isolated incidents, we’ve got a global pandemic, we’ve got industrial action,” he said.

“It’s everyone else’s fault that there are all of these problems, nothing to do with me Guv, nothing to do with me.”

Chief executive Simon Thompson, said he was “alarmed” to see a poster put up in a delivery office which urged staff to not “get caught” stopping during their delivery rounds.

“We were alarmed to see that, it definitely breaches our policy. Anything on there that says ‘don’t get caught’ is clearly not what we do and I don’t believe it’s representative at all of what happens,” Mr Thompson said.

He said that another print-out which tracked how long each individual worker had stood still also breached policy.

Royal Mail strike
Striking postal workers outside the Royal Mail Islington Delivery Office in north London, last year (Lucas Cumiskey/PA)

The computer devices that postal workers carry do not track them in real time, do not nudge them to speed up, do not tell workers which order to do anything in, and the data that is kept is not used in performance management, Mr Thompson said.

But he also added that in the last three months the data had been referenced in 16 conduct cases with staff.

The chief executive also admitted that Royal Mail had failed to meet its universal service obligation which forces it to deliver letters and parcels and not to prioritise one over the other.

The MPs showed Mr Thompson a poster which said that workers should prioritise parcels over letters during their shifts.

Mr Thompson said that two employees – who he named – had taken responsibility for that and that it was “absolutely” a one-off, rogue poster.

He was then shown another six posters and scripts to managers to read out which appeared to give instructions that de-prioritised letters.

“Not all of them are rogue posters,” he said in response, adding that “what we see here is what happens on days of industrial action”.

Operations development director Ricky McAulay said the strikes had been going on for six months and before then the pandemic had forced the company to act differently.

Mr Thompson said the company needed to do better on its universal service obligation, but added that he thinks Royal Mail is improving.