POST OFFICE: CHANGE OF CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT – WEEKLY TO MONTHLY PAY – OPPOSING THE POST OFFICE’S POSITION

POST OFFICE: CHANGE OF CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT – WEEKLY TO MONTHLY PAY – OPPOSING THE POST OFFICE’S POSITION
Earlier this week the Post Office wrote to all weekly paid members (the majority work in Supply Chain although there are some Counter members who are weekly paid) stating that following a 90 day consultation which concluded on 8th December, a decision had been made to cease weekly pay after 3rd February 2017. The letter to our members (attached to this LTB for information) was not provided by management to the union. To put this issue into context, approximately 1000 members are impacted by the Post Office’s Executive Action.
The Post Office’s assertion that the change to monthly pay is necessitated by the company’s “employer’s duty” to automatically enroll eligible jobholders into a pension scheme is spurious and was therefore strongly rejected last year. The Post Office has consistently been able to use the Zurich Defined Contribution Plan (POPP) for enrolment purposes, and as such we cannot see why this has to change in the future, particularly as Zurich are seemingly able to cater for weekly pay reference periods for Post Office employees. Indeed, they also do the same for the Royal Mail weekly-paid payroll and have done this since auto-enrolment was introduced on 1st November 2012. 
The union had previously made it clear to the Post Office that we did not support the move to cease weekly pay. In light of this week’s development, I have today written to the Post Office HR Director in the strongest possible terms, objecting to the actions of the Post Office.
We do not accept that auto-enrolment is a legitimate reason for ceasing weekly pay. Notwithstanding this, auto-enrolment is not due to commence in the Post Office until May; therefore there is no imperative to cease weekly pay from 3rd February. I have as a consequence formally proposed that this date is at the very least postponed to allow for proper negotiations to be conducted in accordance with the National Collective Engagement & Industrial Relations Framework Agreement, with the aim of reaching an agreed way forward. 
We have advised the Post Office that we have received numerous complaints from members who are totally opposed to monthly pay. Undoubtedly, the move to monthly pay will cause huge financial disruption to members who have made their personal, domestic and financial arrangements on the basis they will continue to be paid weekly. There is also widespread reluctance and skepticism amongst our members to embrace the so called “bridging loan”, whereby 4 week’s pay is provided upfront on the basis that it has to be paid back via a reduced salary over the next 12 months. Bizarrely, the Post Office believes that putting our members in debt for a whole year is an attractive proposition. In essence the Post Office’s proposal as it stands is fundamentally flawed.  
It should be noted the Post Office has advised our members in the correspondence that they need to contact the Post Office either via the HR Service helpline or by email by 5pm on Friday 13th January with any “concerns or queries about the change”. We have told the Post Office in our correspondence that imposing such a short time limit is completely unreasonable.
The Post Office has also stated if members do not respond by this date, the change to monthly pay will automatically come into effect after 3rd February, having been agreed between the individual and the Post Office. Basically, the Post Office is saying if they don’t respond, the assumption will be members have agreed to the change to their contract and monthly pay will apply going forward.
As a consequence of this, we have, with support from our legal experts, drafted a letter for members to use stating they object to monthly pay and wish to retain weekly pay. This “Letter of Objection” has been sent directly to our weekly paid members today by first class post due to the urgency. The wording of the “Letter of Objection” is as follows:
 
Dear Sir/Madam
 
CHANGE TO MY CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT BY MOVING FROM WEEKLY TO MONTHLY PAY
I have received your letter dated 3 January informing me that you propose to change the frequency of my pay from weekly to monthly.
I do not agree to my contract of employment being changed unilaterally and wish to retain weekly pay. If you impose it I shall regard the Post Office as being in breach of my contract of employment, and I reserve my right to commence legal proceedings to remedy the breach and to seek damages for breach of contract.
Please confirm that I will continue to receive weekly pay after 3 February 2017.
 
Yours faithfully
…………………………………………………………..
 
Name: …………………………………………………
 
Workplace: …………………………………………..
 
Payroll number: …………………………………….
 
Date: ……………………………….. January 2017
 
In order to ensure all members are fully aware of their entitlement to object to this change of contract, hard copies of the “Letter of Objection” have also been sent directly to each Supply Chain workplace for the attention of the Unit Representative in sufficient numbers for distribution to all impacted members and us attached for your information. Furthermore our Sector Representatives for Crown Offices have also been asked to contact individually all members in the Crown network (approximately 250) who are on weekly pay to provide the necessary advice and guidance. 
It is irrefutable our members have a contractual right to weekly pay and the Post Office does not have a unilateral right to vary that. It follows if the Post Office were to impose the change to monthly pay the Post Office will be in breach of their contracts of employment.  
This matter will be the subject of discussion at the statutory Postal Executive meeting next week and further developments will be reported.
Any queries in relation to this LTB should be directed to Lea Sheridan on 020 8971 7361 or lsheridan@cwu.org.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Andy Furey
Assistant Secretary
 
 
 
Email Attachments – Click to download
LTB 005/17 – POST OFFICE: CHANGE OF CONTRACTS OF EMPLOYMENT – WEEKLY TO MONTHLY PAY – OPPOSING THE POST OFFICE’S POSITION

Attachment 1: Annex 1

Attachment 2: Annex 2

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