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‘Breaking point’: Royal Mail delivery offices in Highlands and Moray considering strikes as staff pushed to limit

Homes across the north have reported late deliveries for months as posties have routes "doubled" to cope with shortages.

Two Royal Mail workers sorting post in a sorting room.
The CWU says staff face unbearable pressure to get the post delivered. File image: DC Thomson

Posties in the Highlands and Moray are considering strike action amid concerns they now face “unachievable” workloads from the Royal Mail.

Households across the north have reported delays in receiving mail for months with some areas currently only receiving deliveries five days a week.

The Communication Workers Union says shrinking workforces have led to walking routes being lengthened and some delivery routes being doubled.

Officials say some posties have been left to “muddle through” with four delivery offices in the Highlands and Moray now considering strike action.

The Press and Journal has been told of some delivery offices still being stacked with undelivered mail at the end of some days.

Royal Mail says it has recruited about 3,000 postmen and women over the last six weeks and rolled out a new wellbeing programme to address mental health concerns.

What is happening to Royal Mail deliveries?

Concerns have been reported across the country that Royal Mail deliveries are coming late or not at all.

Homes in the Elgin area have reported receiving post in batches with several days of mail arriving at once.

And Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP Drew Hendry has launched his own survey after being told deliveries are “much later” than they should be.

Royal Mail vans parked in Elgin with Ladyhill and monument in background.
Concerns about Royal Mail deliveries in Elgin have continued for several months. Image: Jasperimage

The concerns come as the price of a first class stamp has risen to £1.25 this week, the third rise in the last 18 months.

The CWU says the “serious issues” have arisen due to a lack of resources with staff being stretched ever-more thinly.

Roz White, chairwoman of the union’s Highland branch, which covers the whole IV postcode area as well as the KW1 to KW15 postcodes in the northern Highlands and Orkney, said: “The company’s focus has been shifted onto parcel collection and delivery, at the expense sometimes of daily letters delivery.

Back of Royal Mail worker in rear of post van.
Posties are working extra hours to complete their deliveries. Image: Steve Taylor/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

“Established, proven patterns of delivery duties have been thrown out. Deliveries have been doubled, walks have been lengthened and the amount of mail your postie is expected to carry and deliver, in the same timespan as before, has in some cases doubled.

“The pressure posties are under is taking its toll. We are being handed unachievable workloads on an everyday basis, and expected to somehow muddle through.

“The levels of frustration and despair have, for many of our members, reached breaking point. Mental health issues throughout offices nationwide have soared.”

Could more Royal Mail strikes be coming in Highlands?

The CWU says four delivery offices in the Highland branch’s area have asked for a remit for strike action due to the “poor organisation” of the Royal Mail locally.

The request remains under consideration and the union says it will not reveal the locations until the request for a ballot has been granted.

Any strikes would come just months after the CWU settled a year-long dispute with the Royal Mail, which was concluded with a new three-year pay deal.

Mrs White stressed the current concerns centred on a lack of resources to do the job.

CWU members holding banned outside Elgin delivery office.
CWU members on strike in Elgin in August last year. Image: Jasperimage.

She added: “There is no doubt that these offices are experiencing severe problems.

“Mail is failing to be delivered every day. There are not the personnel to deliver it all, nor the hours in the day. It all boils down to a lack of sufficient resources.”

What do the Royal Mail say?

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has written to the Royal Mail again this week after being told of “unreliable” deliveries in the Elgin area. 

The Royal Mail told the Press and Journal it is committed to restoring its services across the country.

Richard Lochhead leaning on table with arms folded looking to camera right.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

A spokesman said: “Over the last six weeks nationwide we have recruited around 3,000 postmen and women and are continuing to recruit about 500 permanent positions a week to help with deliveries.

“To support the physical and mental health of our employees and assist them in their return to work, we have introduced a wellbeing programme which provides colleagues with free, confidential, and independent healthcare support, including unlimited 24/7 access to an online GP.

“As we approach our peak period we are also hiring 16,000 temporary workers, introducing more vehicles and bringing online additional parcel sorting sites to ensure the support is in place to manage the expected demand.”