I’ve been a postman for 20 years – which is why three days a week can spell disaster for letter delivery
When Paul* became a postman, he delivered letters twice a day by bicycle.
Twenty years later, he says he is exhausted and stressed, as the job he loved has changed in the face of changing consumer habits.
Sweeping changes to the way post offices operate have frustrated Royal Mail staff, even leading to a full strike in the winter of 2022.
Royal Mail management has long campaigned for Change in Universal Service Obligation (USO)which requires the company to deliver messages six days a week to every address in the UK.
Paul* has worked as a postman for 20 years but is growing increasingly frustrated with management (stock photo)
They say that reducing the number of days of delivery of letters makes sense in the context of lower volumes and an increase in the number of parcels.
Last month The regulatory body has drawn up proposals for five or even three days a week. For the Post, it would be the biggest change to the system in years.
Paul thinks it would be a disaster. Here This Is Money tells us what it thinks is behind delaying your messages and why cutting delivery days will make the problem worse…
The changing face of Royal Mail
Paul, who asked to change his name, says that when he started work he was done by 11am after two rounds of deliveries on his bike.
“I would come in at five in the morning, get the first-class mail ready, take it out and go back to the office. While I was out, the other guys would sort the second-class mail and then you would go out and deliver it.”
Royal Mail abolished the second delivery of the day in 2003, leaving only one mid-morning delivery. She said at the time that second mailing was not viable since it represented only 4 percent of the mailing and 20 percent of the delivery costs.
Paul believes this contributed to worsening delivery times, which it did Families complain about packages of letters They are delivered days or even weeks late.
But Royal Mail has to modernize, and some say it is unfair for postal staff to expect the company to ignore such huge changes in consumption habits.
The peak volume of messages reached 20 billion in 2004-2005 before email really took off. Now the volume of messages is about 7 billion.
Meanwhile, in the past six years, the average parcel size handled by Royal Mail has increased by almost 30 per cent.
In the same period, the number of packages classified as “large packages” has doubled.
“Today I had 67 large packages, or ‘bundles,’ larger than a shoebox, in addition to the ones in my purse,” says Paul. About 100 in total.
Customers have also become accustomed to next-day delivery, and they simply aren’t sending letters in the same volume they were a couple of decades ago.
“We’ve never objected to modernization…” says Paul.
“But the prevailing attitude is that we are lazy and want an easy life. Instead of the fact that we know the village or walk through it because we have been doing it for years.
Royal Mail has long campaigned for changes to its Universal Service Obligation (USO).
Are posts directed to prioritize packages?
While some post offices may want to go back to the good old days, they and Royal Mail cannot escape the fact that service has deteriorated in recent years.
Royal Mail delivered 90.7 per cent of second class mail within three working days, and only 73.7 per cent of first class mail within one working day.
It is well below the regulator’s target of 93 per cent for first-tier jobs and 98.5 per cent for second-tier jobs.
There were some doubts about that Posties prioritize packages over messages Trying to bypass the Hazm Mountains.
Royal Mail has always vehemently denied this, but Paul says posties are being instructed to do so by management.
You are always at least a day or two behind. It grinds you down, destroys your will.
“We were told to ignore the letters in favor of the tracker.” It comes from the district administration and board level (and) that is the only reason why the delay is happening.
“You have an office manager called a DOM — the delivery office manager — and you have someone sitting above him who gives instructions to leave messages. If you think you can do it, do it. If you can’t, don’t worry about it.
“We tend to ignore it and go after people who we think will get scammed if we don’t get it – hospital letters, cards… anything that looks official, we’ll take it and take it anyway because we don’t know it.” “I don’t like not doing our job.”
“They say leave the letters and take the track, but that means we have two days’ worth of work tomorrow, and the bags are twice as heavy. That means it’ll take longer to get around.
“You’re always at least a day or two behind. It grinds you down, it destroys your willpower. You get to the end of the week tired and bored.
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We will always do our best to ensure letters and parcels are delivered on time.” The run up to Christmas is our busiest time of year, with more than double the normal number of letters and parcels passing through our network.
Average package volumes have increased by about 30 percent in recent years, and in a typical week packages take up about 90 percent of the sorting space at our delivery desks.
We have always been clear that at busy times such as Christmas, it may be logistically necessary to clear parcels first to avoid network issues, keep mail moving and ensure the safety of our colleagues, especially in smaller delivery offices.
“These actions were shared with Ofcom who did not identify any suggestion that Royal Mail senior management had directed that parcels be prioritized over letters outside recognized emergency plans.”
They also pointed to a recent Ofcom report which found there was no suggestion the department had directed parcels to be prioritized over letters outside of emergency plans.
However, the report also found that there was insufficient “oversight, visibility and oversight of local decision-making” and had concerns about the operation of delivery offices.
Postal employees say they can’t complete their routes and are asked to leave messages for tracked items (stock photo)
Who wants to become a postman?
Most Posters who spoke to This is Money say they understand the nature of the job has changed but resources are dwindling.
In 2010, 130,000 postmen and women worked for Royal Mail across 1,371 delivery offices. Its latest annual report shows that the number has fallen to 90,000 workers in 1,200 offices.
Paul believes staff retention is the biggest problem: “People don’t understand what’s involved and they think you’ll join them, someone will give you a bag of letters and walk away.”
“Some of the DOMs were flyers, so they have an idea (of the workload).” The problem is they were working in post offices 10 years ago when half the work was done and done at 11am.
There was a bitter dispute between the Royal Mail and the unions over jobs, wages and working conditions.
under The agreement concluded by CWURoyal Mail employees will receive a 10 per cent pay rise over the next three years and a one-off lump sum of £500.
However, it is far less than the annual increase in line with inflation, which the union initially demanded.
Workers will also see changes to sick pay, attendance standards and revised contracts for new starters.
“If you offer people a decent contract, you won’t have a problem retaining them. If you hire someone part-time, you’ll get part-time effort,” says Paul.
Royal Mail says its staff turnover rate is 11 per cent, “which is well below the industry average”.
How will the three-day week affect deliveries?
Ofcom said last month that Royal Mail could achieve savings of up to £200 million if it reduced delivery days from six to five days a week. It could save up to £650m if it moved to three days.
Royal Mail chief Martin Seidenberg said: “The Ofcom report makes clear that there is an urgent need for reform to protect the future of a one-price, one-size-fits-anywhere USO.
“We are doing everything we can to transform, but it is not sustainable to maintain a network built to accommodate 20 billion messages while we are now only delivering seven billion.”
Business will not die. It will sit there and accumulate.
Any changes to the Royal Mail’s USO will be met with strong opposition from post offices and their union. “The regulator is openly pursuing the failed agenda of the Royal Mail Group’s former senior leadership,” the CWU said.
“It would make it an absolute nightmare,” Paul says. “At the moment we’re struggling with six days a week. If we go to three days a week, what do we do with the days we don’t deliver?
“If I’m delivering on Monday, Wednesday and Friday… come Monday, I have Saturday and Monday mail.” I won’t have time, what should I do? Leave the letters and take the traced path.
“But the next delivery won’t happen until Wednesday, so I’ll have work on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The business is not going to die. It will stay there and accumulate until we get out and then we won’t have enough time to deliver it all. It doesn’t make sense.”
Despite his frustration, Paul still enjoys life as a postal worker: “If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t still be here in 20 years.”
‘It’s heartbreaking and you feel bad. I take a country road, and I know my customers. I see the children growing up and getting married.
“They know my name, my family, I know their families. I have three people in the morning who I collect newspapers for, one of whom has a pint of milk every day.
“People have such confidence in Royal Mail.” You don’t bat an eyelid. I deliver to some very private homes, but they don’t look twice if I’m delivering in the back or up the driveway. They just say, “Oh, it’s just a mailing.”
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