Joint Statement on Ipswich Mail Centre


No.185 /15

Ref: 730.11


All Postal Branches

Divisional Representatives



Dear Colleagues


Ipswich Mail Centre


At recent National and Area CWU Representative Briefings it has been reported that the issue of the future of Ipswich Mail Centre was to be the subject of the first external mediation process as detailed in the ‘Agenda for Growth, Stability and Long Term Success Agreement’.


Much interest was expressed in knowing the outcome of the process and we are pleased to announce that an agreement was reached with the external mediator’s assistance but without him having to make recommendations because of a lack of consensus.  


The agreement reached (attached) is both progressive and very current, and is we believe a credit to both the Industrial Stability and Growth Agenda commitments made by Royal Mail and the CWU.  Clearly the opportunity has been created to genuinely assess a totally Inward Mail Centre operation and tangibly move forward some growth ideas, and hopefully it will give our members in Ipswich some clarity and purpose for future operations in Ipswich.


We would like to place on record the departments thanks to Karl Mackie CBE the external mediator for his assistance and the invaluable knowledge and hard work of Barry Jennings, Divisional Representativeand Nick Loube, Area Processing Representative, in developing the opportunity that the agreement affords.


Any enquiries in relation to this LTB should be addressed to Terry Pullinger, Assistant Secretary, e-mail: or quoting reference number: 730.11


Yours sincerely



Terry Pullinger

Assistant Secretary





Joint Statement on Ipswich Mail Centre


This Joint Statement has been produced to inform all interested parties that a unique agreement has been reached on the future of Ipswich Mail Centre which enables a degree of immediate operational clarity whilst also embracing tangible joint growth agenda activity.


This is an historic moment in our joint aspiration to develop a genuine mutual interest culture as it presented the first challenge for our agreed external mediation process.

Having been through the full engagement process as detailed in the ‘Refining the Future Processing Footprint’ and the mediation stages of the ‘National Joint Statement – Growth, Efficiency and Incentives’ Agreement, both parties are pleased to report that an enabling Agreement has been reached. 


The attached Agreement is progressive and representative of our immediate challenges to reconcile efficient operations, provide excellent quality of service and develop new products and services to sustain revenue growth and employment security. It is our joint aspiration that this agreed way forward will enable activity in Ipswich to inform national thinking going forward.


Whilst this joint statement offers an early viewing of the agreement, we can also report that joint communications are under way with the local Ipswich team to explain the Agreement in more detail and also move at pace on the agreed commitments. 


Both parties agree that this Agreement is in line with the ‘Agenda for Growth’ principles and the target of a mutual interest culture.



Ian Jones                                             Terry Pullinger

Chief of Staff – RMG OperationsAssistant Secretary


23rd March 2015









Agreement between Royal Mail Group and the CWU Regarding the future of mail processing at Ipswich Mail Centre



Ipswich Mail Centre became the subject of consultation on the future of the mail processing facility back in November 2012. That process was paused whilst discussions took place on formulating the ‘Agenda for Growth Agreement’ and reconvened when the ‘Refining the Future Processing Footprint Agreement’ was concluded in December 2013.  

Since that time, we have jointly considered the future of mail processing at Ipswich in the spirit of the new agreements and with the aspiration of developing a mutual interest solution.  This agreed way forward – which follows externally mediated negotiations – has been accepted as the pragmatic direction of travel. It provides the framework for moving forward with certain aspects of the respective proposals from Royal Mail Group (RMG) and the CWU immediately. Moreover, it allows the headroom to use the Ipswich facility to test and evaluate suitable growth opportunities for more radical and diversified products and services, whilst also evaluating our existing or revised operational pipeline models against the changing market environment. Any trials will be subject to Ipswich Mail Centre being deemed by both parties to be a suitable location for such activity.


Recent Developments


The ‘Refining the Future Processing Footprint Agreement’ recognised that there will always be the need to respond to market conditions, new products and services, and technological advances.  It also carried the understanding that the processing footprint would invest in both new and current estate assets.

This consultation has coincided with serious growth agenda activity which has seen both RMG and the CWU come forward with product and work plan design potential.  Equally, competition and customer demands, in respect of both the processing and delivery windows, are driving a re-focus on our operation and the product offering.

All of the above has been factored into the consideration of the future usage of the Ipswich site for mail processing activity, recognising the need for flexibility to respond to exceptionally rapid change in the UK postal market. 


The Immediate Solution


Against this backdrop, and in the interest of developing a staged approach to the future of mail processing at the Ipswich site, the following mutual interest approach has been agreed:


1. The migration of all outward mail processing from Ipswich to Chelmsford and Norwich Mail Centres as soon as practical and in line with the latest proposal from RMG. For the supporting people preference exercise, priority will be given to colleagues currently contracted to work within the outward mail sortation operation. The aim will be to migrate all work to Chelmsford and Norwich by August 2015. Locally, the trade union and management teams will develop phasing plans for the outward mail migration which will be jointly reviewed and managed in line with the ‘Aims & Objectives’ and ‘Success Criteria’ sections of the National Refining the Processing Footprint Agreement.
2. RMG’s final decision to migrate the inward mail processing operation to Chelmsford, whilst retaining the walk sequencing aspect of the inward operation at Ipswich, will be placed on hold until April 2016 at the earliest. 
3. This will allow both parties up to 12 months (to April 2016) to trial and evaluate different customer service models. Potential concepts include Royal Mail Local and potential operational workplan changes which could enable delivery windows either side of the current service specification. Any trials will be subject to Ipswich Mail Centre being deemed by both parties to be a suitable location for such activity, both commercially and operationally. Outputs from the joint RMG and CWU growth agenda will determine any new product offerings and workplan opportunities which are deemed suitable, both operationally and commercially, for the Ipswich catchment area. 
4. The content of the growth agenda will be established and governed by the joint RMG and CWU Growth Forum, with oversight by the National Process Group (NPG) via the agreed ‘Joint Working Party’ approach which is expected to include National, Divisional and local participants. The Growth Forum will determine the relevant products, services and workplan enhancements to be tested as part of this trial period. Both parties will commit to the early identification of jointly supported activity given the limited period of time available for testing. This will include bottom-up idea generation facilitated by the Joint Working Party and the MPG. This will be subject to normal consultation and negotiation in line with existing agreements. The process will also consider the potential for other investment opportunities in the Ipswich site to optimise and improve its utilisation. Where appropriate, positive publicity and consultation opportunities will be jointly considered and agreed  to enhance customer awareness,  cooperation and demand, including joint engagement with local opinion formers eg chambers of commerce .  
5. In light of this, Ipswich will continue to operate as an Inward Mail Centre, including   DSA and parcels operations, until at least April 2016. Both parties will work together to plan and deploy a revised inward mail processing duty set by August 2015. This will reflect the proposed changes to duty set in line with the CWU’s preferred option arising from the consultation, enabling the delivery of enhanced efficiency as detailed in the CWU’s proposal. For the supporting people preference exercise, priority will be given to colleagues currently contracted to work within the inward mail sortation operation.
6. In respect of automation equipment, RMG is of the opinion that the current OCR/LSM machines in Ipswich  provide the same processing capability and reliability as the IMPEX proposal tabled by the CWU. To ensure that there is joint confidence in this assessment, further meetings will take place with RMG’s automation experts. If that dialogue changes this assessment, then automation adjustments will be jointly re-considered by the NPG for resolution. 
7. The success of the growth agenda activity, including potential  operational workplan and delivery window changes, will be jointly reviewed by the Growth Forum (supported by the NPG) against the agreed criteria of section 2 ‘The Plan for Growth’ section of the National Joint Statement – Growth, Efficiency and Incentives. Both parties will continue to work together in the spirit of the ‘Refining the Future Processing Footprint Agreement’ to deeply analyse the operational, financial and people advantages and disadvantages of the concept of inward mail processing operations prior to sequencing being closer to the customer. This joint activity will also consider the parcel operation and where, with its current inward sorting specification, it will continue to be processed. If there is a consensus that a more compelling business case has not emerged or that changing operational or business circumstances have not informed a directional change during this joint trial activity, then both parties commit to working together to enable the progression of RMG’s  revised  proposal to transfer inward mail processing work (other than walk sequencing) to Chelmsford Mail Centre between June 2016 and March 2017.  
8. The check and go assurance process for both the outward and the inward mail processing changes of this agreement will be tested against inter-site measurement in respect of both the ‘posted’ and ‘delivered’ quality of service performance targets for the Chelmsford, Norwich and Ipswich postcode areas.  The arrival patterns to delivery offices will be consistent with RMG’s revised proposal.
9. In line with the current arrangements for ‘Managing the Surplus Framework’ (MTSF), current terms will apply throughout the life of this project.

Both parties agree that this continuing proof of concept development approach is a sincere and genuine process which is supported by the ‘Agenda for Growth’ principles and the target mutual interest culture.

Any questions of interpretation, implementation, or application of this agreed way forward shall be referred to the signatories of this agreement for resolution via the IR Framework and the new industrial stability process.




Ian Jones                                                                                 Terry Pullinger 


23rd March 2015










Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: