National Briefing – 2nd September 2013

Dear Colleague

 The Union will be holding a National Briefing on the 2nd September 2013 to update Senior Representatives on privatisation and talks with the Company over Pay, Pensions, Legal Protections and the Company’s future strategy.

 The Briefing also coincides with a Special Parliamentary debate on Privatisation and we anticipate the Government may take this opportunity to set out further details on their plans.

 The CWU will be issuing an appropriate press release for this debate and the Union will be undertaking further activities to support our Campaign.  Details of these will be issued in due course.

 Attendance at this Briefing is for those Representatives who would normally attend such an event from Royal Mail, Post Office Limited, Parcelforce, ROMEC and Quadrant.  The venue will be at Central Hall, Storey’s Gate, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH and the Briefing will commence at 1pm and conclude no later than 3.30pm.  The Royal Mail Group had been advised of this Briefing and we expect the normal arrangements to apply. 

 Any enquiries on the above LTB should be addressed to the DGS (P) Department.

 Yours sincerely

 Dave Ward 

 Pensions Consultation

 Dear Colleague

 The purpose of this LTB is to remind all CWU Representatives and members that the Pension Consultation process is due to conclude on the 25th August.  It is essential that we maximise the amount of postcards being returned to both the Royal Mail Group and Post Office Limited. 

 In addition to Royal Mail letters members, individual letters with the postcard enclosed are being sent to POL and Parcelforce members.  We are also sending a further hundred postcards to every Branch and these should be taken to workplaces and filled in by our members. 

 We are asking Branches to send a reminder to Reps and workplaces about the importance of returning the postcards.  We expect Branches to ensure that the hundred postcards being sent to them are completed in the workplace.  

 To further raise the profile of the Pension Consultation, the Union is planning communications that can be forwarded to the Trustee Board to ensure they are held to account.  This exercise is not restricted to the same timescale of the 25th August 2013, but nevertheless it will need to be actioned soon and details of this will follow before the end of the week. 

 In the meantime Branches must concentrate on maximising the return of the postcard before the Consultation process closes on the 25th August 2013.

 Any enquiries on the above LTB should be addressed to the DGS (P) Department.

 
 Yours sincerely

Dave Ward 

LTB 553/13: National Talks

Dear Colleague

 Royal Mail/CWU National Talks

 Further talks were held last week with Royal Mail on CWU key priorities including pay, pensions, legal protections and the company’s future strategy. 

 Pay

 At the end of the talks the company tabled a new closed offer on pay.  Under the protocols of such an offer we are not expected to publicise the detail at this stage.  However, the offer represented such a marginal increase that it was immediately rejected and dismissed by the Union as nothing more than a futile tactical gesture.  When pressed the company confirmed this was not their final offer and that this would depend on progress in other areas. 

 The company are still insisting that pay is linked to their unacceptable pension proposal.  Furthermore, whilst both parties are taking a fresh look at how we can improve industrial and employee relations, elements of the company’s position are beginning to resemble a no strike deal.  The Union has made it clear that there is no prospect of CWU ever agreeing a no strike deal or their pension proposal.

 Pensions

 There has been no change in the company’s position.

 Legal Protections

 In response to the Union seeking legally binding protections for our members in the event of privatisation, the company have indicated they are prepared to reach an agreement on this, albeit there remain major differences between the parties over the content and longevity of these protections. 

 
The Company’s Future Strategy

 The company are saying they are prepared to reach an agreement on an agenda for growth and their parcels strategy.  However, the detail of this remains unclear.  The Union still has major concerns over what we see as a massive disconnect between relentless managerial budgets and the reality of daily workload pressures for CWU members.

 Next Steps

 The Union remains committed to reaching a negotiated settlement on all outstanding issues but we are now fast approaching the point where a National Industrial Action Ballot will need to be triggered.  In preparation for this, CWU Headquarters will shortly be sending out Branch Membership lists which will need to be checked and updated as a priority. 

Further talks are planned with the company and more information will follow in due course.  Please ensure the content of this LTB is provided to all CWU Representatives and circulated in all workplaces.

 Any enquiries on the above LTB should be addressed to the DGS (P) Dept.

 Yours sincerely

 Dave Ward                                                
Deputy General Secretary (P) 

A Royal Mail for the Public says Peter Hain

This is an article written by Peter Hain MP.

“A single purpose company with no shareholders and that is run solely for the benefit of customers”.

This to me sounds exactly like what a privatised Royal Mail should be. The sentence is taken from the website of Glas Cymru/ Welsh Water and describes how they have operated since 2000. I have already suggested to Vince Cable when questioning him in the Commons that this be the kind of business model taken on by Royal Mail. It is perfectly compatible with the Tory-Lib Dem Postal Services Act and successfully combines social obligations and commercial imperatives. There is nothing that I can see in the legislation that would prevent it from establishing an alternative company structure such as a Company Limited by Guarantee that was used by Network Rail and Welsh Water.

On top of which, such a model would raise capital more cheaply, without contributing to Government debt. As a “not for profit” company, all Welsh Water’s financial surpluses are reinvested in the business. Welsh Water has the highest credit rating in the sector which enables it to borrow money cheaply to finance investment. Welsh Water find it cheaper to raise capital because they are not caught up in the usual speculator driven, takeover vulnerable, merry go round. And under the terms of its licence Glas Cymru may not operate in sectors other than water, just as Royal Mail would be restricted in its operations.

There is no public appetite for privatisation and there is certainly not appetite for it among Royal Mail employees. In fact a July YouGov poll showed that 67 per cent of the public are opposed to privatisation of Royal Mail and only half of the remaining 40 per cent actually support it. The public fears price rises and a less efficient service. Welsh Water has made a success of its service and kept prices relatively reasonable because profit is not the driving force. It also has a good record on investment and customer service.

Definitely a model that Labour should pledge to implement in our election manifesto.

——————————————————————————–

Former Labour Cabinet Minister Peter Hain is MP for Neath

Youcan also read this article on LabourList.

Government splashing cash on unpopular Royal Mail privatisation

67% of public opposed to privatisation in YouGov poll
Taxpayers’ cash being used to flog profitable national asset
Government failing to explore alternative options
Responding to the invitation by government today (Wednesday) for UK stockbrokers and share dealing services to apply to act as Intermediaries in the privatisation of Royal Mail, CWU accuses the government of ‘privatisation at any cost’.

A YouGov poll* carried out last month showed that 67% of the public are opposed to privatisation of Royal Mail, with only 20% in support. In addition, 79% feared that prices would rise and 47% believed the service would get worse under privatisation. Only 4% thought prices would decrease and 13% thought services would improve.

The government has also this week appointed advertising agency Engine to run its publicity campaign. The cost of this to the taxpayer is not yet known.

Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “The government is splashing taxpayers’ money on a deeply unpopular privatisation programme. Royal Mail made £403 million profit last year and is a national asset valued by the public. More than two thirds of the public are against privatisation – that’s a clear majority in any system.

“There is no argument for privatising Royal Mail. Plenty of alternative models exist to address the concerns which government has raised – for example raising capital which could be done along the lines of Network Rail which doesn’t affect national debt. This government is obsessed with privatisation at any cost.

“The government should drop this expensive and unpopular policy.”

*YouGov surveyed 1,779 UK adults between 8th and 9th July 2013. View the full YouGov survey results in full.

World Class Mail

The purpose of this LTB is to explain how the Union will implement the Amendment to Recommendation 2 which was carried at the Policy Forum and means the Union are now in direct opposition to World Class Mail. 
 
Initially we are asking Branches not to take any premature action on this policy before the Postal Executive has met next Tuesday and we have also had the opportunity to meet with Royal Mail on Wednesday 7th August 2013 to inform them of the decision. 
 
The CWU is committed to implementing this policy but we must do so on a consistent basis and in a manner that does not lead to unnecessary conduct or suspension issues, or even allegations of Unofficial Industrial Action.
 
The Union is facing major challenges and in carrying the policy it was clearly understood that the objective was not to allow World Class Mail to distract us from the key issues that will determine the future.
 
Please ensure that all Representatives within your Branch are aware of the content of this LTB.  Further information will follow in due course.
 
Any enquiries on the above LTB should be addressed to the DGS (P) Dept.

Tougher dog laws, says CWU

The Communication Workers Union today (Tuesday) welcomes the Defra consultation on sentencing for dangerous dog offences and hopes that tougher and more consistent sentencing will be brought in.

The consultation runs from 6 August to 1 September 2013 and can be found online on the Defra website. CWU is encouraging all branches and affected members to participate as the results of the consultation will be used to inform the recommendations put forward in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

Dave Joyce on BBC News this morning (Tuesday)
Dave Joyce, CWU national health and safety officer, said: “Current sentencing arrangements do not match the serious nature of offences. 16 people have been killed in dog attacks since 2005 by dogs and a quarter of a million people are bitten by dogs in the UK every year, yet the maximum prison sentence is just two years and a £5,000 fine. Only one person has ever been imprisoned for a dog attack on a postal worker when the postman was nearly killed but the sentence was just four and a half months. As the number of dog attacks and number of fatalities continues to grow – sentencing must get tougher to deal with irresponsible, negligent dog owners.”

CWU represents the largest number of dog attack victims – postal workers and telecom engineers who suffer 5,000 dog attacks each year. The union warmly welcomes the consultation and hopes that tougher sentencing arrangements will be part of the package of important dangerous dogs law changes later this year which includes extending the law to private property, introduction of Dog Control Notices, compulsory microchipping and extended police dog seizure powers.

“This consultation is very welcome and hopefully indicates the government is serious about tackling the problem of irresponsible dog ownership” said Dave. “We want to see tougher sentencing, better enforcement and greater consistency in sentencing. At the moment people are being handed vastly different sentences for very similar crimes, with one person receiving a suspended prison sentence while another walks away with just a £100 fine.

“Current arrangements are simply not good enough and the punishments do not fit the crimes. We would draw comparisons with driving offences where causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous or inconsiderate driving has a maximum prison sentence of five years and an unlimited fine plus automatic disqualification and causing death by dangerous driving has a maximum prison sentence of fourteen years. We want to see something similar for serious dangerous dog offences, given the devastating effect that dog attacks can have on peoples’ lives. Irresponsible dog ownership causes injury and distress to thousands of our members, others workers, children and the public alike – it must be tackled.”

CWU has been campaigning for changes to dangerous dogs laws since 2007. The union’s Bite Back campaign has the support of major animal charities, enforcement agencies and businesses. During this time the campaign has resulted in dog control law changes in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Wales was about to legislate until Westminster brought forward these proposals earlier this year.

Royal Mail bonuses smack of private sector excess

2nd August 2013

Moya Greene’s package 72 times the average pay of a postal worker
Additional bonus due of £488,000
CWU calls for alternative business model to tackle excess

Responding to the publication of remuneration details for Royal Mail executives today (Friday), the Communication Workers Union criticises the company paying £1.47 million to Chief Executive Moya Greene as “imitating private sector excess”.

The report published today shows that Moya Greene took home a total of £1.47m for 2012-13, up more than a third from the previous year when she took home £1.1m. This is 72 times the average wage of postal workers. The report also shows on page 53 that Moya Greene is due an additional £488,000 payment from her long-term scheme in respect of the 2012/13 results. This is a further 24 times a delivery postman or woman’s wage taking her total payment for that year to almost 100 times the average postal worker’s pay.

Moya Greene and senior executives Mark Higson and Matthew Lester all receive a cash supplement equivalent to 40% of their salary in lieu of pensions. This is at the same time that the company wants to make changes to postal workers’ pensions.

The 12 Royal Mail executive directors shared pay and packages totalling £3,753,000 last year.

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “Ordinary postal workers will be appalled at this excessive, inflation-busting increase in bonuses for Moya Greene. It appears the company is adopting early the private sector penchant for higher prices and massive executive pay and bonuses.

“This executive pay and bonus excess wouldn’t happen under our alternative business model, which we believe needs to be looked at more urgently than ever. Excessive executive pay would get worse under privatisation, not better, so we want to see healthy alternatives which keep the company in public ownership. Making Royal Mail a ‘not for dividend’ company where profits are reinvested back into services would be a better model than old-fashioned privatisation which has lead to soaring prices in other industries.

“These pay and bonus figures make Royal Mail’s below-inflation pay offer look even more insulting than it was originally. The management are clearly out of touch with not only their own workforce but also with public opinion. Front-line workers are being squeezed everywhere with inflation and living costs overtaking the value of their pay. But those in the ivory towers of board level continue to award themselves eye-watering sums of cash. Government should act to curb this blatant hypocrisy on pay.”

Alternative business model

CWU believes an alternative to privatisation must be considered by government. At this week’s CWU policy forum, CWU reps agreed the following principles for an alternative model:

The Royal Mail Group should be a ‘not for dividend company’ with profits reinvested back into services and the workforce. It would operate for public good, balancing its social obligations with commercial opportunities.
The company would be able to access capital by borrowing on the commercial markets without this contributing to Government debt. Network Rail is a perfect example of this. By creating a new Board structure it has been able to borrow over £27 billion in recent years. A fully modernised Royal Mail with proper employee alignment will also be able to self finance some of its own investment. Neither the Government nor the company can put forward any rational argument as to why this type of structure could not access capital.
There would be a company charter set out in legislation that would confirm Royal Mail as the USO provider and act as a locking mechanism against any further attempts to alter the structure of the company. The charter would set out a list of ethical principles and values that the company would be bound by, including its approach to employee and industrial relations.
There would be an overhaul of the governance structure and the main Board representatives would be balanced between appointees with social, commercial and ethical responsibilities. The Unions could nominate a small number of Board members, but not from within their organisations.
The company would implement the High Pay Commission recommendations with a fixed pay differential between what Board members, Senior managers and the workforce earn.
The company would operate single status benefits from the top to the bottom. Incentive schemes would relate to a fixed percentage of people’s overall salary.

CWU agrees Royal Mail strike ballot

The Communication Workers Union has today (Thursday) agreed to hold a national strike ballot of Royal Mail workers unless protections for jobs and services can be secured.

Around 500 CWU reps met at the union’s policy forum in London today and voted unanimously in favour of holding a national strike ballot in Royal Mail no later than September 2013. If the ballot goes ahead it will include 115,000 postal workers in Royal Mail (excluding Parcelforce and the Post Office) and would be the first ballot for national strike action in Royal Mail since September 2009.

Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said: “The current situation cannot go on. Postal workers are being squeezed in their workplaces, facing an uncertain future and changes to their pensions. There hasn’t yet been a pay rise for staff this year despite healthy company profits of £403 million. But most importantly, we want protections for job security and terms and conditions and these are sadly lacking.

“CWU is committed to holding serious negotiations with Royal Mail to achieve settlement on these issues, but efforts to date do not bode well.

“The company only began to seriously negotiate with us following our consultative ballot in June, which showed 99% of postal workers back the union’s position on pay, 96% are opposed to privatisation and 92% are willing to take part in a boycott of competitors’ mail and to withdraw cooperation on workplace changes.

“We do not take the decision to hold a strike ballot lightly. However, we will stop at nothing to ensure the future of our members’ jobs – and of the services they deliver – are protected.”

Wording of the policy:

“That the CWU will prioritise national negotiations along the policy lines stated. If satisfactory agreements cannot be secured, the union will hold a National Industrial Action Ballot no later than September 2013. The Postal Executive will have discretion to enact the ballot earlier in light of events, the actions of management and progress made.”

CWU reps are debated a range of issues at the two-day policy forum, including securing job protections in Royal Mail, alternative business models to privatisation, changes to pensions, and workplace pressure.