POSTMEN working in Didcot have gone out on strike after their depot was not cleaned when one member of staff became ill with COVID-19.

The postal workers refused to work in the Royal Mail delivery office on Broadway while they believed it was unsafe, following guidance given to them by the Communication Workers Union last week.

A member of staff at the depot tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday and his delivery van was deep cleaned after they left on sick leave.

But the remaining postal workers were unhappy that the rest of the building had not been thoroughly cleaned in the same way.

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CWU represenative Steve Gill said: "A member of staff has been tested for COVID-19. The van he used needed cleaning which was done by a cleaning company called Clean Safe.

"They came in and did that, but our building was cleaned by a man with a rag and a spray bottle."

Mr Gill added: "We are not withdrawing our labour, but people have stayed outside of the building now.

"We are not going in that building because we don't deem it safe."

Despite having not officially withdrawn their labour -- their willingness to work -- the postmen have faced the threat of losing their pay due to the situation.

Royal Mail has been contacted for comment about the walk out.

Earlier this week postmen working in Oxford described their every day conditions at the moment as being similar to 'Christmas pressures' as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

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More people are ordering clothes, food, and other online-bought items to their homes.

At the same time, the CWU said Royal Mail had failed to provide proper protective gear for its workers.

Dave Ward, the CWU general secretary said that staff should not be working if there was not proper PPE on offer for them.

Postmen have so far been equipped with rubber gloves which reportedly break easily, and hand sanitiser.

They would like access to face masks as well, but stocks of these are currently being given to the NHS as a priority.

Herald Series:

Workers believe the Didcot depot is unsafe

In a statement released last week, Mr Ward said: “We don’t want a row with the company, we want to work with the company and with the Government and for the country.

“And we want to do that in a way that really does help the country.”

At the time, Royal Mail said it ‘takes the health and safety of its colleagues, its customers and the local communities in which it operates very seriously’.

Its spokesman added there was ‘a comprehensive range of preventative measures to protect both our customers and our colleagues in line with guidance from Public Health England.’

They said: “We have introduced a new social distancing policy which has been implemented in the vast majority of our sites.

“Public Health England guidance says there are no additional precautions needed for handling post or packages.”

Royal Mail has an ageing workforce, with many members of staff in their 50s and 60s.

The coronavirus is more likely to be dangerous for people in these older age groups, and is most dangerous for those who are 70 and older or those who have existing health conditions.