Pillars of Security and Pay Negotiations
Further to LTB 403/17 regarding Royal Mail’s position on pensions, the Postal Executive at its meeting on 18th July 2017 discussed management’s current communication and actions and how it relates to Emergency Motion E5 which was unanimously carried at this year’s Annual Conference (copy attached for ease of reference).
Clearly the Motion represents the determined position of the CWU to resist management’s current approach and secure the best possible agreement for our members. However, we are fast approaching the deadline for those negotiations and yesterday the Postal Executive took the decision to assess progress at the next PE meeting scheduled for 15th August, and if sufficient progress has not been made it will then agree a timetable for a national industrial action ballot.
In respect of pensions, you will also note that Emergency Motion E5 also carried the policy that if Royal Mail choose to introduce any of their policies by executive action then an immediate ballot for industrial action should commence. On Friday 14th July 2017 Royal Mail Group issued an alert in a Commercial Organisation press release which strongly suggested that talks with the CWU on a new pension solution had ceased and that they would, by executive action, be offering our members a choice between their latest proposal of a mutant DC cash out at the point of retirement saving scheme, or the current Defined Contribution scheme.
The timing of this announcement also coincided with the news that Unite (who represent the managerial grades) will be holding a consultative ballot on Royal Mail’s latest proposal. Whilst it should be noted that Unite are not recommending the managerial offer they have said that the offer represents the best position achievable and are positive in regard to its Defined Benefit nature.
To be clear, we (the CWU) have totally rejected the offer as being anything like an acceptable solution to replace the pension promise and deferred wages in retirement offered by our current DB scheme and which both parties agreed was a key element of the reward package for our members in the Growth and Stability/legally binding agreement.
Whilst Royal Mail’s released update and their published communications with Unite would imply that the talks have concluded, they are also taking actions which suggest that the talks will continue. For example, on 18th July they released their latest trading update in which they state that the managerial union (Unite/CMA) believe that Royal Mail’s latest offer is the best position available but they are continuing to discuss future pension arrangements with the CWU. Equally, on Monday 17th July, Jon Millidge, (RM Group HR Director) contacted the DGSP Department seeking further meetings on the pension issue and I can report that a meeting has been arranged between Royal Mail, the CWU and our advisors, First Actuarial, for Tuesday 25th July.
This activity would suggest that they have not ceased negotiations on an acceptable pension solution but we will be seeking a straight answer before the meeting on 25th July to clarify if the company has ceased negotiations or are genuinely prepared to continue talks to find an agreed settlement.
In a final effort to try and reach an agreement on all aspects of the Four Pillars of Security and pay, the Postal Executive have also decided to write to the business offering a meeting between their lead negotiators and the CWU Officers, in an attempt to reframe the negotiations and understand if there is any meaningful desire to move all the issues forward and reach an agreement.
It is imperative that everyone understands that we are now at a very serious stage of these negotiations and that unless there is a substantial breakthrough prior to the PE Meeting on 15th August, the Postal Executive will have no option or hesitation to carry out the terms of Emergency Motion E5 and set a timetable for a ballot of our membership on industrial action.
Deputy General Secretary (Postal)