IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Parents ‘devastated’ by plan to close Royal Mail nursery

‘It is unfair, unnecessary and puts children of key workers at risk,’ says union representative

05 February, 2021 — By Calum Fraser

Young charges at Mount Pleasant Mail Centre nursery

ROYAL Mail is set to close a much-loved nursery service at their Mount Pleasant Mail Centre, sparking despair and fury from employees and unions.

Kiddycare’s Childsplay Nursery – which has been providing Royal Mail’s discounted child care to staff for more than 20 years at the Farringdon Road site – is set to shut next month.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has now set up a petition, which has gathered more than 1,000 signatures, calling for the decision to be reversed. It says it puts many employees in a perilous situation.

A CWU regional spokesman said: “For many with young children, playing their part in keeping communities connected during the pandemic would have been simply impossible without facilities like Kiddycare.

“It’s not surprising that these dedicated employees passionately oppose this closure.

“It is unfair, unnecessary, and puts the children of key workers at risk.”

Several employees at the Clerkenwell site spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity.

One parent said: “The closure of the nursery, especially at such very short notice, leaves my family in an extremely difficult position.

“This would be devastating to our finances.”

The nursery, which is open from 6am to 10pm, has capacity for 30 children and offers places to Royal Mail staff for around £150 a week full-time – a rate that would not be offered at many private nurseries.

One employee, who is on maternity leave, said: “It is quite upsetting that in the middle of the pandemic, with all the struggles we have been through, we have to face yet another obstacle.”

Royal Mail planned to axe the nursery service nine years ago but a Tribune campaign saw them back down.

It is understood that nursery staff have offered a compromise that would see a gradual move away from Royal Mail’s subsidy for staff.

Leasing the site allegedly costs around £150,000 a year.

A spokeswoman for Kiddycare, which manages the service, said: “We always had a wonderful relationship with Royal Mail, and we are extremely disappointed that they have made this decision, more so while we are in the middle of a pandemic.

“In making this hasty decision, Royal Mail is not taking into consideration the mental wellbeing that the closure will cause to families and children, who are already suffering anxiety, as the rest of the country is, due to the Covid pandemic.”

Last year, Royal Mail announced it was axing nearly 2,000 management jobs in a cost-cutting exercise.

The company aims to slash spending by £300m over the next two years, it was reported.

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “Royal Mail understands the importance of supporting parents in the workplace, and we offer a range of flexible working and childcare initiatives to help them.

“We are currently in the process of deciding the best course of action in relation to the provision of paid-for, third-party childcare at our Mount Pleasant Mail Centre.

“Royal Mail is already in consultation with approximately nine Royal Mail parents who currently use the service and we have been discussing potential alternative arrangements.”

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