You will be aware from the previous updates that CWU and An Post review daily the operation of Postal services in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Everything we do is predicated on the strict adherence to the medical advice and HSE guidelines for:
- Social Distancing
- Regular hand washing
- Coughing etiquette
Our work is important, we are part of the infrastructure that keeps our communities in contact and the country running. We are delivering to some of the most vulnerable people in our society at this time. We continue to deliver supplies of medical PPE to HSE staff in hospitals as evidenced by the recent response to the national appeal by St James Hospital for PPE. An Post is managing the logistics of the tremendous response by facilitating the carriage of the items via its Freepost service from its 114 DSUs and 3 Mail Centres.
Community Support Initiative
As outlined in our previous circular it is recognised our members continue to perform services in every area of the community and it is essential we maintain and extend the link, where isolation is not, for the duration of this crises, confined to rural areas. The Union suggested to An Post that it is the national interest we maintain and explore new ways and services to the public. The company is very much supportive of this, as evidenced by the comments of the CEO David Mc Redmond at the launch of the delivery by An Post staff of the Government information booklet.
We are aware that the lack of detailed information up until today has had some impact on members in relation to the expectations of customers. Since the initiative was advised by the Company on Wednesday we have been engaged in intensive discussions to finalise the details and hope that this information will allay any concerns of members.
We have agreed Postpersons in the course of their delivery will check in regularly with the elderly, vulnerable or people self-quarantining. In doing so, as with all contact with customers, staff must maintain the social distancing rules at all times. It has also been agreed that free collection and postage will be provided to these people. Guidelines for delivery staff have been agreed with the company, a copy of which is attached. In respect of the new service for the delivery of newspapers, these items will be processed via the normal fully addressed mail services.
Face Masks and Gloves
The Union has been in further discussions with the Company in relation to protective measures for members in the context of the Community Action Plan.
The Company has acted in line with guidelines from the HSE and it is important to restate these guidelines. Firstly, to reaffirm, the virus is transmitted by inhaling droplets and by touching the face, mouth and eyes. Therefore handwashing (and hand sanitizing), coughing and sneezing etiquette & adhering to social distancing is the best protection for staff and customers and the best preventative method.
Introducing gloves and masks as an action will not in itself protect people against picking up the virus, as the virus can also stick to the gloves and masks. In addition, people may feel a false sense of protection/security wearing these and not wash/sanitize their hands as often as they should. It is important that people remember to do this regularly. However the Union’s view is that gloves and masks could be added as ‘complementary equipment’ and/ or for specific purposes. On their own they would not be considered as a protective measure but would be an additional safeguard.
The Union has shared this view with the Company and as a result the Company has arranged that significant supplies of face masks will be made available for staff to use on a ‘voluntary’ basis. It is not compulsory for staff to use this equipment but where they wish to do so the option will be there. Staff who use this must observe the guidelines associated with their use and the Company will shortly issue these to all offices.
In conjunction with the introduction of the above from Monday 30th March 2020, delivery staff will have the facility to home garage the CMV, where there is no requirement for the vehicle to be used by another driver for other work such as collections. This will assist with minimising unnecessary travel and assist with social distancing. Drivers will be required to comply with the home garaging arrangements and ensure they are cleaned on a regular basis.
An Post in the Community COVID-19 Response
Home Collection Service Procedure – Elderly Vulnerable Customers
Publication Type: Circular