A La Poste truck in Paris, March 26, 2020. - STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

  • In the midst of a coronavirus epidemic, has La Poste hidden more than 24 million masks from its employees?
  • This is what the union Sud-PTT said in a press release, explaining that the group's HR department would have justified this decision by the fear of seeing this stock "requisitioned".
  • If a document consulted by 20 Minutes indicates a stock of more than 24 million as of the end of January, La Poste claims not to have hidden this information from its employees and to have started the distribution of the stock in March. 20 Minutes takes stock.

Do some large companies have been keeping masks for several months, while nursing staff and certain employees particularly exposed by their activity lack this type of protection against coronavirus?

While the government is criticized for its evolving discourse on the usefulness of these masks, La Poste is accused of having concealed a large stock of masks for fear of seeing them requisitioned. In a press release dated April 6, the Federation Sud-PTT claims to have learned "at the bend of a legal procedure [that La Poste] had a huge stock of masks. […] The group has 486,000 packs of 50 masks, so 24,300,000 masks are in stock […]! "

"More than 24 million protections that the counter officers did not have at the start of the confinement, more than 24 million masks that did not arrive at the deliverymen and letter carriers!" A part was distributed (300,000) to the Ministry of the Interior, we know it thanks to a tweet from Castaner, but not to the agents or the hospitalists! […] ”, Continues the press release.

This document ends with a quote attributed to the HRD of the La Poste group to explain, during a meeting, this "silence": "We have no interest in this being known because if we take out the figure, we risk being requisitioned ”.

La Poste hides 24 million masks so as not to be requisitioned! The HR director of @GroupeLaPoste has just said: "We have no interest in this being known because we risk being requisitioned". But who are these people? Https: //t.co/QlMWejGesU#LaPoste pic.twitter.com/viuT0eomTs

- South PTT federation (@fdSudPTT) April 6, 2020


Contacted by 20 Minutes , Yann Le Merrer, member of the South-PTT federal office, tells us that the document from which the figure is drawn is "part of the documents in La Poste's response to our ongoing legal proceedings, since we have attacked La Poste for endangering [its personnel] at the start of the Covid-19 crisis ”.

In this undated document communicated by La Poste as part of the procedure launched by Sud-PTT and which we were able to consult, La Poste clearly indicates that it has "significant stocks (486,000 lots of 50 masks) which are probably still usable: it there is no expiration ”. However, it specifies that it must check "the quality of the elastic" before "Monday, January 27 [2020]".

Joined by 20 Minutes, La Poste "does not confirm the figure advanced" but specifies to have "stockpiled masks during the H1N1 health crisis in 2009 as part of its health prevention policy, to respond to a crisis sanitary for about two months. "

"A stock status report presented at the end of January"

"It was verified during the beginning of 2020 that most of these masks could still be used," continues La Poste, stressing that "a situation report [of the stock] was presented as part of '' a note at the end of January to the national commission on health and safety at work in which the trade unions participate. "The group adds finally having in addition" regular donations of masks throughout this period: 1 million surgical masks to the APHP, 300,000 to the Ministry of the Interior, 500,000 to the RATP, 510,000 to Intermarché for its employees ”.

300,000 masks for our security forces will be made available to the Ministry of the Interior by @GroupeLaPoste.
They will reinforce the 800,000 masks already distributed to the police and gendarmes.
Thank you to #LaPoste for its solidarity and commitment. pic.twitter.com/C9OxcWA8j6

- Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) March 27, 2020

"Apparently, the importance of the stock was communicated in January to a few people, but La Poste never communicated more widely than it had masks in stock," said Yann Le Merrer, who also deplores have learned about the donations of masks made by the company by “press” rather than by internal communication. Christine Simon, head of the "postal" sector at FO Com, tells us that her union organization "learned of the existence of these masks yesterday", but "having alerted La Poste management by a letter to the need to put in place measures to protect employees from March 17 ”.

"We have also learned from the media that some of the masks have been donated, but La Poste has also mentioned some of them in internal meetings", she continues, before adding: "The priority, from the start, is to ensure the protection of all employees. Now that we know that the stock exists, we want these masks to be given to all postal workers, from sorting centers to mail. "

Half of the stock already distributed?

Is the stock of masks that have not been donated already made available to group employees? If La Poste says that "half of these masks were sent to territories in establishments from the beginning of March for the needs of postal workers" and "that a large part is already used", Yann Le Merrer denounces a “fake news”: “The masks have for a long time been reserved only for employees who were sick, La Poste did not start mass mailing the masks until the end of March, via the classic circuit distribution, which is very degraded given the number of post offices closed, instead of going through a specific circuit. For her part, Christine Simon explains that she heard that "a good part of the masks - perhaps half - would have already been distributed" but that FO Com would not know more than in the days to come.

More specifically, La Poste claims to have distributed masks "immediately" (from March 4) in cluster areas, then to sick people from March 6, before extending this distribution to postal workers responsible for home visits and portages. meals - with people who are fragile when faced with the coronavirus - on March 11, then at "any postman in contact with the public" from March 20. While stressing that, since April 4 and the evolution of the “doctrine of the health authorities”, it forecasts a need for 4 million masks per week to equip all its postal workers, and that it “also placed new orders to ensure the protection of postal workers in the following weeks ”.

If Yann Le Merrer recognizes that "most of the counters still open started to be fitted with masks at the end of March", he recalls that at this stage of the epidemic, less than 2,000 offices remained in operation because of the temporary closure of many of them. He also maintains that certain clusters - except in the Great East - "still lacked masks a fortnight ago".

Morgane Guessant, secretary of the Sud PTT department in Morbihan (56), confirms: "In the wake of the security measures taken by the prefecture in early March with the closure of the schools, I alerted the management to find out what was planned to ensure the safety of employees and I was told that I had to wash my hands. […] It's been a fight to have masks since the beginning of March, again last week directors refused to give them, and all the requests to find out about the stock in Morbihan were not answered. "

Yann Le Merrer finally underlines that the employees in charge of home visits do not "represent a big activity" within La Poste, while underlining: "The distribution of masks for letter carriers and letter-posters is something else. We will know tomorrow if the mass distribution launched at the end of March is effective in offices. ”

"Our masks are not requisitionable"

Finally, La Poste considers the “controversy” to be “ridiculous” around a fear of “requisitions”: “The stock of post masks is known to the authorities as internally, it is part of the crisis prevention and management systems . […] Within the framework of regular exchanges with the senior defense official, […] this stock is one of the shared subjects and a statement of its situation was made at the beginning of March. […] Furthermore, our masks cannot be requisitioned by requisition decrees. Contacted by 20 Minutes , the company's senior defense and security official (HFDS) did not respond to our requests before the publication of this article.

“The requisition decree states that the stocks of FFP2 masks in all the companies which hold them and all types of masks are requisitionable from the manufacturers and distributors of masks themselves. We are neither a distributor nor a manufacturer of masks. The masks in question are simple surgical masks, ”concludes the group.


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