Prenton postal workers fired amidst tea break dispute

Six postal workers have been fired from their jobs at a delivery office in Wirral according to the Communication Workers Union (CWU).

This follows the controversial suspension of 11 postal workers at the Prenton Delivery Office over a dispute reportedly involving postal workers having cups of tea and coffee at two pubs while on their break.

The suspensions have led to widespread disruption of postal services since July across Prenton and Oxton with mail not arriving and some people missing hospital appointments as a result. One resident, Joe Thomas, even described the situation when picking up a parcel from the delivery office as “chaos.”

According to the CWU, six postal workers were dismissed on 11 August, one wasn’t dismissed but given a penalty, and the outcome of another worker is unknown. Three postal workers who were suspended had already been reinstated.

It is also understood that a number of postal workers not involved in the original suspension have resigned from their posts over the situation.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said, “As a responsible employer we always investigate any incidents where the behaviour of our employees is alleged to have fallen below the standards expected.

“Any decision to dismiss an employee is only done so in line with the clear rules and regulations that govern employment law for all UK businesses and our internal standards.”

The suspensions related to the Caernarvon Castle in Oxton and the Swan Hotel in Prenton. Since the story was first broken by the LDRS, people have largely taken to social media to condemn the decision.

Birkenhead’s MP Mick Whitley has slammed Royal Mail over the issue and Oxton councillor Stuart Kelly has called for the suspended staff to be reinstated. Cllr Kelly said, “Whatever their internal management problems, people in Oxton and Prenton want a proper post service and it is essential that Royal Mail focus on providing that.”

One former postman said he was “sad” about the way the situation had been handled claiming “the Prenton office was the best one on the Wirral.” He added: “It’s all changed now but I loved being a postman.”

The suspensions have put deliveries under pressure in recent weeks. Royal Mail said anyone with missed mail will be prioritised the following day but some people said they haven’t received some things for weeks.

Joe Thomas, who lives in Oxton, said he got cards weeks after his birthday and still hasn’t received a wedding invite sent by a friend. He said, “People said did you get any cards but I hadn’t. Things turned up a week later and people said they have sent them with plenty of days notice.”

Royal Mail said they are working to improve services but Mr Thomas said the situation has “kind of been the same since,” adding: “I don’t think it’s improved. I have had one thing in this week but that is the first time in a while.”

One time he went to pick up a parcel from the Prenton office. He said, “I asked if they had any more post. It was chaos in there.

“He did find it but it was in the wrong place. I could tell his frustration. They work really hard and were helpful but it was clear that it had been ongoing.”

Mr Thomas said he thought the suspension was “such an overblown reaction,” adding, “It’s such a solitary job being a postie being out all day so why not meet up with your colleagues?”

Deb Quayle has also had problems with her post. She said, “We have been lucky to get it twice a week and then you get a lot of post from other people. It’s been incredibly poor at times.”

“We normally have such a good service so when things do go amiss, you notice it. The posties here are just great. Our local posties know my parents so if we aren’t in, they take them in for us and we take things in for them. We never had a missed parcel.

“We once had a postman bring a parcel here but he knew we had relatives who live nearby so he phoned the other postmen to find out where our relatives were which was so helpful. People are so supportive of them and they are just so good.”

Kevin Donovan, 77 from Birkenhead, said, “We know and trust our delivery staff. They work hard in all weathers and go above and beyond their duties.

“This was especially noticeable during the pandemic. They look out for elderly neighbours, me included, and make sure that parcels find a safe location such as with a neighbour if people aren’t at home.”

Steve Roper said the issue had been going on for weeks and was still waiting out on bank letters. He said, “It’s been poorly managed. What is the problem with someone having a cup of tea? I know for a fact when it was really hot, I have offered cans of Coke or bottles of water.”

Royal Mail has apologised to residents experiencing delays. A spokesperson said, “Efforts at the local delivery office are ongoing to improve this level of service. This includes additional recruitment and the addition of agency staff. Mail continues to be delivered, and anyone who has mail and does not receive it on the day they expect will always be prioritised the following day.

“Across our business we have plans in place to drive service levels. We hope and expect to see further progress in the coming months.”


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