Amidst the Royal Mail strikes, rats and foxes are chewing on Christmas parcels and letters left outside a depot, according to union sources.
The latest 48-hour walkout by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents 115,000 postal workers, begins on Wednesday, with additional action planned for December 23 and 24.
Because of the strikes, Royal Mail has already moved the final posting dates for Christmas cards forward.
According to CWU officials, piles of undeliverable mail are being left outside depots, exposing parcels and letters to the elements and allowing foxes and vermin to eat through packaging.
Thousands of undeliverable items have been photographed outside the Royal Mail’s main Bristol depot in Filton.
“Things are being left out in the open at Bristol Mail Centre, and I believe vermin and other animals are having a go,” said another local CWU official.
Plans to cover the items to protect them have been met with scepticism by staff at the centre, with one worker, who asked to remain anonymous, saying that “it would have to be the biggest tarpaulin in the world as everything has been ruined”.
The photos showed some of the 30,000 parcels per hour processed at the Filton depot, but they were moving “very quickly through the centre and on to the next stage in their journey,” according to Royal Mail.
In a statement, Royal Mail said: “We are doing all we can to deliver Christmas for our customers and minimise the impact of damaging industrial action. The CWU is striking at our busiest time, holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country.