CAMPAIGN ON COMPETITION AND POSTAL REGULATION – NATIONAL BRIEFING 19TH JUNE
The purpose of this LTB is to update Branches about the campaign on competition and postal regulation and the event we are planning on this in June. The event will now be a briefing at the TUC (Congress House) at 11am on the 19th June.
As you will be aware, the original intention – which was announced at Annual Conference – was to hold this event on the 16th June and to march on Ofcom’s headquarters on the day of its board meeting. However, in light of the recent announcement from Whistl to suspend its delivery operations, the Postal Executive has agreed that this could be counter-productive and seen as insensitive at a time when the workers at Whistl are facing redundancy. We will therefore hold a briefing at the TUC to provide an update to colleagues on the current position and how we are planning on taking the campaign forward in light of recent developments.
The union has been considering the announcement from Whistl and we are continuing to talk to Royal Mail about its implications. While we will need to wait for the outcome of Whistl’s review to assess this fully, its announcement is clearly a potentially significant change to the letters market and the development of competition.
However, it is important to recognise that the issues the union is committed to campaigning on have not gone away. Whistl’s decision now would not tie its hands in the future and it is possible that it, or other operators, will still seek to win part of the letters market in deliveries.
Moreover, Ofcom has repeatedly emphasised its duty to ensure that the universal service is efficient under the Postal Services Act. In the absence of competition in letter deliveries, it is likely to look for other ways of achieving this and to put greater pressure on Royal Mail over staff costs by other means. There is also competition in access mail and parcels, which pose similar risks to the business, as we saw with the downstream access regime under Postcomm.
The truth is that the broader approach being taken to regulation is deeply flawed and is being used to drive a race to the bottom on jobs and terms and conditions. It remains incumbent on the union to expose this and the threat it poses to the universal service, as we committed to under motion E1 at Annual Conference. The briefing on 19th June will set out how we intend to do so and the role that Branches have to play in this. A copy of the motion is attached to this LTB.
Colleagues will also be aware that the suspension of operations by Whistl has had an impact in the parts of the country where it had already started deliveries (namely London, Liverpool and Manchester). We are in discussions with Royal Mail about this, and the potential return of workload in these areas permanently once Whistl’s review has finished, and the relevant Assistant Secretaries will be getting the affected branches together to discuss this shortly.
Any queries in relation to the contents of this LTB should be addressed to the DGSP department.
Deputy General Secretary (P)
Emergency Motion 1
This Conference instructs the incoming Postal Executive……….
Conference notes the publication of the BIS Select Committee Report on the 12th March into competition in UK postal services and the future of the Universal Service.
Conference further notes that the Regulator (Ofcom) has made it clear that it will not intervene in direct delivery competition at this stage, because it believes that there is no immediate threat to the future of the Universal Service and that Royal Mail should do more to improve efficiency. Furthermore, the Regulator has also publicly stated that if Royal Mail increases wages above inflation it is making itself less efficient and that our agreement on Legal Protections prevents Royal Mail from introducing lower cost employment models.
This Conference agrees that the actions of the Regulator are completely unacceptable and that this represents an attack on the pay, terms and conditions of postal workers. As such, the Regulator has completely overstepped its remit.
In response to these developments, the Union will launch a fresh campaign calling for a Judicial Review/independent enquiry into the Regulator’s role, alongside new legislation to strengthen the USO, limit direct delivery competition and introduce fair employment standards across the postal sector.
As part of the campaign the Union will also pursue the following remedies to cherry picking competition.
• Ofcom should impose a cap to limit direct delivery competition at its current level.
• Ofcom should swiftly conclude its investigation into TNT’s complaint over Royal Mail’s proposed access price changes.
• Allow Royal Mail to implement an access pricing structure for bulk mail contracts to mitigate against the impact of cherry picking.
• Ofcom must require all end to end providers to record and report on performance targets to ensure customers are properly informed when choosing a mail provider.
• Ofcom must extend the mail integrity and postal common operational procedures codes to all direct delivery and access operators in the interests of consumer protection and common industry standards.
• Consideration of a USO support fund.
In addition to the above, we will campaign to expand and widen Ofcom’s role and responsibilities in order to ensure it regulates all respective postal operators across the market, this should include all aspects of their regulatory remit, including quality of service measures, pricing and mails integrity to ensure that any measures will be compared like for like across the sector.
The campaign will be launched with a National Briefing in London during May 2015, followed by a demonstration outside the Headquarters of Ofcom.
Conference further agrees that the Union should publicly campaign for Royal Mail and all political parties to support the call for a Judicial Review into the Regulator’s role and the introduction of new legislation as outlined above.
Conference recognises that for this campaign to be effective we must also engage CWU members and the wider public and utilise all available communication tools.