THURSDAY 12th SEPTEMBER 2013
CWU Local Representatives from across the country gathered in Birmingham to discuss issues relating to the proposed privatisation of Royal Mail and the pending Official Industrial Action Ballot.
Along with CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes and CWU Deputy General Secretary (Postal) Dave Ward, Royal Mail Chief Executive Moya Greene also addressed the Forum.
The Forum began just hours after the official announcement regarding the floatation of Royal Mail and Dave Ward wasted no time in commenting on the announcement. “No Government announcement changes the fact that we will be going to an Industrial Action ballot to protect our members. All the announcement does is make it more important to stand together and return a massive yes vote in the ballot”.
Dave continued “There is still no dates or details of the sale, but be under no illusion, whoever owns the company this union will fight to protect the terms and conditions and keep them the best they can be. The CWU is bigger than any plans for privatisation. The CWU is here for the long haul. The CWU representatives like those here today have one big job – go and deliver a resounding yes vote in this ballot”.
The applause for Dave Ward’s inspiring speech was short lived as Moya Greene was then asked to address the Forum; and was greeted with jeers and a chorus of “Royal Mail, not for sale!”. The Royal Mail CEO gave a brief speech full of rhetoric and cliché similar to the material that has arrived on the doorsteps of CWU members recently. The monotonous speech was soon interrupted by laughter and more jeering as the statement “I don’t understand why we should be headed for a dispute” was made by the CEO.
Moya Greene went on to say that “We need to make good of privatisation” and also gave a hint that negotiations were not closed on what was already, in her opinion, a ‘good’ pay offer.
Questions from the floor to the Royal Mail boss included issues of bullying & harassment, the uncertainty of the privatisation, the debacle of the proposed pension changes and the future strategy of the company. On bullying & harassment, Moya Greene stated that “most cases involve member against member” which was poorly received on the floor and led to ‘time running out’ on the question and answer session and, perhaps ironically, a ‘comfort break’ was called for.
Dave Ward was quick to return to the rostrum as the second session began and defend comments made by Moya Greene. The Forum was informed that no deal would include a ‘no strike clause’ and that a better pay deal, inclusive of the benefits and minus the ‘strings’ – as demanded in the Consultative Ballot – would be reached by the union and employer. “Our members deserve better pay, living wage pay, and proper incentives including a replacement for ColleagueShare which the company stole from our members” Dave Ward claimed. “Let me also be clear that a boycott of competitors mail is also not out of the question. We could not take any action on the back of the Consultative Ballot, but we will be exploring every tactic in beating the threat to this industry and this union’s members” he added.
The momentum with Dave Ward grew and he outlined exactly what the CWU was striving for in addition to the demands of the Consultative Ballot and relied on its Reps to ensure members were aware of:
Legally binding protections
No break-up of the company; ParcelForce, Mail Centre sales etc
No outsourcing/franchising of delivery rounds
Avoidance of ‘race to the bottom’ of terms and conditions similar to TNT
No Zero-Hour contracts or 2-Tier workforce
Billy Hayes added to Dave Ward’s comments by stating that “We have fought privatisation for 21 years. Moya Greene, like Leighton and Crozier did, claims that things were terrible when she arrived and that she has improved them. We all know the improvements have been made by you (Reps) and the members”. He added that the company is profitable and not a ‘basket-case’ which is why there will be interest in buying it – from capitalist vultures not “businessmen and women who feel sorry for their postie”. Billy also committed to putting pressure on the Labour Party at its Conference with a motion that calls for renationalisation should the sale go ahead “Labour needs to start acting as an opposition, rest assured we will be taking a firm stance at Conference and we invite you to attend”,
Both Dave and Billy emphasised the importance of a YES vote in the upcoming ballot. All Reps present were challenged to ‘go and deliver’ the return and stated that this was a ‘defining moment’ in the history of Royal Mail, the industry and the union. Both were confident of winning the dispute.
It is now down to the reps and the membership to take the next step and return the YES vote needed to save the future of our terms and conditions at work.
There will be Gate Meetings and correspondence from Reps regarding the ballot. If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
CWU Eastern 5