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Royal Mail boss to face MPs after statements ‘may not have been wholly correct’

Royal Mail is locked in a long-running dispute with its main union (Victoria Jones/PA)
Royal Mail is locked in a long-running dispute with its main union (Victoria Jones/PA)

The boss of Royal Mail will be brought back in front of MPs after they accused him of providing information that “may not have been wholly correct.”

Chief executive Simon Thompson has been asked to clarify his statements to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee “at the earliest opportunity”, chairman Darren Jones said on Tuesday.

After Mr Thompson spoke last week amid a dispute with the company’s union, MPs said they were sent hundreds of complaints questioning his claims.

In a letter to Mr Thompson and his chairman, Mr Jones said that the letters had raised concerns over several of the statements.

MPs had asked why Royal Mail was tracking how fast employees were making deliveries using their handheld computers and whether they were disciplined based on that data.

Mr Thompson said: “No. I am not aware of technology we have in place that tells people to work more quickly. I am not aware of that at all.”

But Mr Jones said that his group has “received evidence that suggests this is not correct.”

Mr Thompson also denied that it is Royal Mail policy to prioritise parcels over letters, something that could breach rules.

However, Mr Jones said: “Contrary to your evidence, we have been told that managers in many delivery offices are advising Royal Mail delivery workers that parcels are still to be prioritised.”

Posters have appeared at several delivery offices across the country telling staff to prioritise parcels, the letters sent to the committee claim.

The MPs also have “concerns” about how Royal Mail handles sick pay, Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones said: “Since Mr Thompson appeared before the committee last week we’ve had significant quantities of evidence that suggest his answers may not have been wholly correct.

“Giving inaccurate information to a parliamentary committee, whether by accident or otherwise, is taken very seriously.

“We must get to the bottom of these inconsistencies on behalf of Parliament and intend to do so during this additional hearing.”

Royal Mail said: “We welcome the opportunity to expand on any points on which the Committee would like clarification, and share the steps we are taking to resolve this dispute and secure the long-term future of Royal Mail for our people and customers.

“As the CWU (Communication Workers Union) launches its third ballot for industrial action today, we are seeing an increasingly false narrative circulating on our pay and change dispute.

“This is designed to create fear and uncertainty amongst our employees as the CWU builds support for further damaging strikes, instead of focusing on agreeing a deal to deliver what our customers need and give a pay rise to our people who have already lost around £1,800 each after 18 days of strikes.”

The CWU said: “In the interests of democracy and public standards, we wholeheartedly welcome this decision.

“Politicians tasked by voters to conduct scrutinising work with the greatest possible knowledge and clarity have grave concerns about Simon Thompson’s evasive conduct.

“These concerns are shared by millions of people, who need to know the facts from those who run the postal services they rely on, and deserve to be treated with the utmost seriousness.”