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Direct marketing limits abolished in the UK

9th Mar 2010
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Royal Mail has agreed to remove existing caps on the amount of direct marketing material that postal workers can deliver to households as part of its deal with postal unions to end their industrial dispute.

The arrangement, which is buried in the small print of a 79-page document outlining the resolution, means that posties will no longer be restricted to delivering three "unaddressed mail" items per week to ensure that their mail bags are not overloaded.

The agreement does not specify what the new limits will be - if any – but more direct mail deliveries are expected to take place on Saturdays.

A Royal Mail spokesman told the Guardian newspaper that lifting the restrictions would not lead to more direct marketing material being delivered overall, however, as the company hopes to take business from other postal operators.

Royal Mail staff currently deliver about one quarter of the UK’s annual 4 million items of direct mail, but the content has become increasingly important to the firm’s bottom line.

Some postal workers claimed at the end of strike action last year that managers told them to deliver direct mail backlogs before letters, despite customers’ frustration about having to wait longer for the latter.

But Nigel Woods, a postal expert for the Consumer Focus watchdog, warned: “Royal Mail must approach this responsibly to ensure that customers are not deluged with unwanted mail.”

As part of its deal with the unions, Royal Mail also agreed to give its staff a 6.9% pay rise over the next three years and to reduce their working hours by an hour a week. It also gave assurances that there would be no compulsory redundancies. In return, the unions agreed to co-operate over its modernisation programme.

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