Reps from Wessex South Central Branch headed to Southampton Mail Centre last month for a CWU recruitment and organising event aimed at increasing member participation and bringing new people into the union.
Branch secretary Martin Sheppard, women’s officer Shirley Edwards and equality officer Andy Rathbone worked with field organiser Michelle Daykin to host the day-long workshop.
All too often – in Royal Mail delivery offices particularly – the unit rep’s job can become extremely demanding, with workloads sometimes becoming unmanageable, and workplace committees can be enormously helpful in supporting the office rep, and strengthening the union’s frontline presence to the benefit of all members.
This was a key session of the day, which also focussed on recruitment drives, and membership records.
“Working together, we tailored the workshop on mapping, recruitment, communications and workplace committees,” explained Michelle, adding: “This meant that the reps could share ideas, experiences, best practice and have an opportunity outside of their workplace to think strategically about how to approach members and non-members.”
Andy said that the intention had been to provide practical ideas for “improving not just the level of membership, but also the level of activism of existing members wanting to become more involved.”
With the threat of privatisation looming over Royal Mail staff, on top of all the other major issues that postal workers are currently facing, he pointed out that “there has never been a more important time to get organised and events like this are a vital part of ensuring this.”
The prospect of private ownership of the business was also a key mobilising issue for Shirley, who said: “Recruitment is hugely important, especially in this current climate with the threat of privatisation hanging over our heads.
“This was my first attempt at part facilitating a workshop but I found it very enjoyable and informative,” she continued.
“As the old saying goes – ‘There is strength in numbers’ – and we need the numbers and the organisation to keep strong.”
Local reps John McCarthy (Totton DO) and Rob Hayhurst (Shirley DO) gave the initiative the thumbs-up. John described the workshop as “a necessity,” adding that “even seasoned reps need a refresher every now and then,” and Rob said that he found the members’ mapping exercises particularly useful.
As well as his local unit duties, Rob also serves as an area delivery rep, and he commented that other office reps had “really got into” the event and that all appreciated the potential support that the creation of effective workplace committees could provide, particularly in terms of delegating workload.
Other feedback has been similarly positive, according to branch secretary Martin, who also pointed to plans to launch regular unit-based newsletters to ensure all members are kept in touch with developments.
“Our verdict is that it was a great success,” he concluded.
“Now we all need to keep up the momentum.”
If you’re interested in becoming a unit rep, or volunteering for a workplace committee, get in touch by contacting their local branch or the field organiser assigned to their branch. Alternatively you can contact Lynn Browne, Senior Organiser Postal Department on email@example.com 07735776364. For more information visit Postal Workplace Organisers.
Union reps from Royal Mail workplaces across the UK will meet next week to decide on actions to protect postal jobs and services, including whether to hold a national strike ballot of all Royal Mail workers.
The two-day policy forum takes place at Logan Hall, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL on Wednesday 31 July and Thursday 1 August. The strike ballot debate will be heard from 9:30 on Thursday morning. If passed, the CWU will then set out a timetable to hold a ballot of 115,000 members across Royal Mail Group (excludes Parcelforce and the Post Office). Around 500 reps will debate a range of issues, including securing job protections in Royal Mail, alternative business models to privatisation, changes to pensions, and workplace pressure.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “UK postal services are facing unprecedented change and threats. We will always embrace innovation and changes in the industry, but only on terms which maintain decent jobs and protect quality services. This policy forum is all about anticipating what may lie around the corner and how CWU can react to protect the interests of our members and customers they serve in the increasingly changing world of postal services.”
Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “We want to secure the best possible protections for our members’ jobs and we will stop at nothing to ensure that their future, and that of the UK’s postal services, are protected.
“The offer on job protection made by Royal Mail earlier this month wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Patience is wearing thin and unless we can secure robust protections for jobs, pay and terms and conditions soon we are asking our reps to endorse a policy of holding a national industrial action ballot no later than September.”
Agenda for the policy forum:
Logan Hall, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL
Policy Forum Day 1: Wednesday 31st July 2013
1200 – 1300 Registration
1300 – 1600 Pensions
1600 – 1800 Taking the Consultative Ballot Forward
Policy Forum Day 2: Thursday 1st August 2013
0930 – 1200 Taking National Talks Forward – decision on whether to hold a strike ballot
1200 – 1300 Lunch
1300 – 1430 CWU Alternative Business Model
1430 – 1600 Save our Royal Mail Campaign
Some sessions will be closed but media is welcome to attend the Forum. The Thursday morning session and vote on whether to hold a national strike ballot will be open to journalists.
Employment tribunal fees – one of the key changes to UK employment law being introduced by this government – come into force on Monday 29 July. You still have time to get your claims in, but you must be quick!
If you have a current submission you can still make it without incurring the fees by applying via the online system by 4pm Friday 26 July, or by first class post on or by the same day. You can also email or fax your forms over the weekend before 23:59 on Sunday 28 July.
A new online submission service, with the new ET1 form, will be available from Monday 29 July 2013 and the new form must be used from this date. Fees ranging from £160 to £1,200 will apply for all employment tribunals from this date. CWU will fund these fees for members whose cases the union takes on.
Tony Rupa, Head of CWU Legal Services, said: “The introduction of the fee structure will seriously restrict our members’ ability to access the tribunal system, especially those on low incomes. It’s an elitist barrier to accessing the justice system which I fear will lead to a rise in bad behaviour by unscrupulous employers in relation to unfair dismissals, discrimination and other unfair treatment at work.
“The government has simultaneously introduced fees for claimants and reduced the level of compensation awards which they could be eligible for. It’s a clear attack on employment rights in this country, which are already the weakest in Europe. As an organisation which operates to protect people at work, we will be funding these fees for our members.”
CWU will fund payment of the issue fee on behalf of our members who submit an ET1 application. Additionally, if the case is assessed as having the required prospects of success and subsequently authorisation is given by the Legal Department to run the case on behalf of the member, if this case progresses to a full tribunal hearing, the union will pay the hearing fee, as appropriate. This arrangement will be monitored over the coming months.
Members should be made aware that the union is not obliged to support any case unless we consider that it has reasonable prospects of success, i.e. 50% or more. Employees have the right to take a complaint of unfair dismissal or unlawful discrimination and other disputes to a tribunal provided they meet the qualifying legal conditions.
Full information regarding the changes, and advice on how to apply for a tribunal hearing, are available in LTB 498 in the members’ area of the website.
For further information on this issue, please contact Tony Rupa in the CWU Legal Services department on 0208 971 7444 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROYAL MAIL PAY AND CONDITIONS OFFER – REJECTED
It was reported previously that as the Consultative Ballot concluded, the Union received a three year closed pay and conditions offer from the company. The purpose of this LTB is to confirm the detail of the offer and explain why it has been rejected.
THE ROYAL MAIL PAY AND CONDITIONS OFFER
Year One (April 1st 2013 to March 31st 2014) – 2.6% basic pay increase + £300 lump sum payable December 2013 (subject to Industrial Action clause) *
Year Two (April 1st 2014 to March 31st 2015) – 3% basic pay increase (subject to review if inflation is below 2.3% or above 3.3%) *
Year Three (April 1st 2015 to March 31st 2016) – 2.8% basic pay increase (subject to the same review of inflation) *
* All basic pay increases to flow through to Overtime/Scheduled Attendance rates, all allowances including Shift, London Weighting and Scottish Distant Island Allowance.
2. The pay offer is conditional on acceptance of the following:
* Acceptance of the previously rejected pension proposals currently out to consultation.
* Three year protection of existing contracts of employment and some other terms and conditions, alongside a commitment to no outsourcing for the three year duration of the deal.
* The development of an agenda for growth and stability with a commitment to a workplan to take this forward.
CWU Reasons for Rejection
In considering the offer the Executive recognise that in today’s climate the pay element will be seen as significant, but the offer must also be viewed as an overall package and in the context of our major concerns over the company’s future strategy, pensions, privatisation and end to end competition. Further reasons for rejecting the offer are as follows:
* The pay element in isolation does not meet with the terms of CWU policy and we will be seeking a higher, more straightforward settlement.
Neither does the pay element address our claim for significantly improved overtime rates and new bonus arrangements.
As well as a higher basic pay award, the Union will be seeking more certainty in any long-term deal, rather than inflation reopener clauses.
* The linkage to the previously rejected pension proposals is unacceptable.
* The protection of some terms and conditions included in the offer is a key Union agenda item. However, the protections attached to this offer are neither extensive enough, explicit enough nor adequate in their longevity. Neither are they legally enforceable and would not offer CWU members any protection in the event of a change in ownership.
* An agenda for growth and stability is something the Union has wanted and will support if the conditions are right. However, this offer lacks clarity over the future and is not a substitute for a proper agreement over the company’s future parcels strategy.
All in all, although this offer has been rejected, it does demonstrate that the company now appear to be serious about resolving issues that have been on the Union’s agenda for some time.
The Union is committed to further negotiations and a meeting has been arranged with the company later this week. Please ensure the content of this LTB is distributed to all local workplaces.
A further LTB will be issued this week confirming arrangements for a Conference/Policy Forum, alongside a Special Report setting out our next steps. Any enquiries on the above LTB should be addressed to the DGS (P) Department.