Royal Mail faces investigation over late letters

Royal Mail is facing an investigation over claims that letters are being delivered late because postmen are failing to complete their rounds.

The mail watchdog, Postwatch, will look into the issue after receiving complaints from the organisation’s staff as well as customers.

Problems with postal deliveries have been blamed on new working practices introduced after strikes by the Communication Workers Union, and a new 56 mph speed limit for lorries, which means that mail is arriving later at sorting offices.

Postwatch will survey thousands of householders to find out whether mail is arriving on time.

The investigation will focus on a practice known as “cutting off”, where workers take undelivered mail back to the delivery office at the end of a shift, rather than finishing the round in overtime.

Royal Mail says it has already fitted its lorries with speed limiters in advance of European Union rules which will restrict their speed from January 1.

Postal workers, writing in an online forum, have threatened to disrupt deliveries at Christmas. One said: “I am cutting off every day in December.” Another said: “I for one will be finishing at my time.”

Postwatch has raised its concerns with the postal regulator, Postcomm.

Under the terms of the deal which ended the strikes, Royal Mail is expected to scrap a system which allows workers to go home early if they have completed their round.

Royal Mail insisted there was no evidence of an increase in cutting off.

A spokesman said: “There’s no change to our pledge to customers to deliver the mail by 2pm in urban areas and by 3pm in rural areas. The focus of every­thing we’re doing now is to deliver the best possible Christmas service.”

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