National Briefing – TUC – 19.10.17
Jane Loftus- national President
Thanked all local reps and activists for engaging with the membership as never before and securing a remarkable Yes vote of 89.1%. After today’s brief we have to engage the members to keep them updated on where we are. Other Unions are watching in admiration.
Terry Pullinger- DGS (P)
We had a fantastic campaign amongst the membership at a local level. We need to keep that engagement going as we enter the next phase of this dispute.
There will be an Agreement at the end, we have to keep the momentum going and continue to put pressure on RMG.
This dispute is very much alive, under different rules since the last dispute, the most anti TU laws in Europe and the Courts which support them. All part of the challenge. Of course the Court action was frustrating but we expected that. RM has been breaking the Agenda for a growth agreement for two years and it is annoying that they claimed that mediation should have taken place before we balloted. We have sat in talks for eighteen months, in the presence of an external mediator, when RM never once raised the issue of mediation. Even though it’s part of the Agenda for Growth designed to promote industrial stability. It was laughable to see RM in Court claiming that they didn’t know we were at disagreement, snivelling to the Judge that even the threat of industrial action would see customers walk away from RM. The legal test was not whether RM have behaved properly, the test was who suffered the most financial damage in the event of a strike.
The Judge viewed the impact on the CWU would merely be to be pushed into more talks before being allowed to take IA. The CWU with head held high and loud and proud spoke up for our members in Court. Despite the ruling this Dispute is still very much alive and we will hold RM to the agreed timetable of mediation. We expect the six month limit on taking IA to be extended to June/July 2018.
We have never been stronger than we are today. The Ballot is still live and the emphasis is on RM to reach an acceptable agreement. The Christmas period puts pressure on RM. Last year letter volumes failed to hit target but parcels grew , in reality the busiest days are after Boxing Day, the pressure is still on.
The Agenda for Growth was an agreement to encourage industrial stability. It prevented the break up of the functions and prevents a two-tier workforce. It is one of the 4 Pillars and all the arguments are in our favour. If there are flaws in the Agenda for Growth agreement then these can be discussed but its retention is still on our agenda.
I’m happy to report that Moya Greene has been found. I had talks with her yesterday. Planned for one hour, lasted five hours. To be clear, we want an agreement and don’t want to strike. RM accuse us of creating a frenzy. RM, especially those senior managers who have looked after themselves, have been spooked by the ballot result. We gave notice on the first day possible after the result and expected a legal challenge because they always do! The external mediator should have been appointed by now and we have written to them pointing this out. We will not allow them to drag this process out any longer than allowed by the Court. Unless of course we make progress. As a Trade Union we have forced our Agenda onto the RM table, the debate is around our agenda.
So where now? We prepare for mediation and keep the momentum going locally, today we’ll march to mount pleasant with our banners. This dispute is still very much on and we go into talks with a massive 89.1% vote in support.
Dave Ward- General Secretary
There is no doubt that at this moment in time what happened in Court last week was a setback. Disputes are not won or lost at one moment in time.
There can be no doubt that our members have been angered by RM tactics. Attitudes will harden against an employer who has acted in bad faith in an attempt to stop strikes over Xmas but the CWU is still in a strong position.
In the wider context they have to deal with a United membership and mediation can often offer the employer a way out of an impasse, one that can be justified to the Board and shareholders.
We have been asked if we didn’t see this coming. Mediation is a part of the Agenda for Growth and there has been a form of mediation. It is an act of bad faith that the employer did not trigger the mediation process earlier rather than take an interim injunction out on the CWU. At Court the judge gave consideration only to who would suffer the greatest financial loss if the interim injunction was not granted.
Have we let them off the Xmas hook? It is possible to meet the terms of the employer injunction and take action if required at Xmas. Locally there are other pressure points. In reality some members would be up for Xmas action while others would not.
This dispute is about members terms and conditions but is also about defending the service. Far from holding the public to ransom we are defending their service. Action must be related to what we are trying to achieve.
Is the Agenda for Growth at fault? No. RMG were forced into this agreement at the time of privatisation. It prevents the break up of the Company and employing a two tier workforce. It is the envy of other organisations, other businesses wonder why RMG agreed it.
We didn’t win the legal arguments in court but this dispute will not be won in court. It will be won by negotiation.
This is a time of great opportunity for the CWU, a magnificent ballot result has us on the front foot, fantastic communications have used the power of social media to get our message across. I know from the TUC that other Unions are in awe.
The first legal action from RMG was because they said we didn’t inform members of the ballot result quick enough! That was dropped.
We fought under the most anti TU laws in Europe and we won through engagement with the members.
It is refreshing to have a Labour leadership now prepared to defend workers. We have a good relationship with the Leadership and they are committed to taking RMG back into public ownership but this is not just about renationalisation, we’re looking at something different that puts faith in people over machines, something that puts postal workers are the forefront of building a successful industry. The CWU is in a position to do something very special.
We have considered a campaign D2D on why we are taking strike action. The cost is £2.2m. It would explain that our action is not only about our t&c’s but also about defending the service.
We are in a very strong position in the context of this dispute. No doubt our members are disappointed about the Court result but are now angry at how they are being treated up and down the country. We must now move on to winning this dispute.
Chris Webb- Head of Comms.
Thanked the staff in Comms Dept for their efforts over the period. The stats provide proof that we are using all media platforms to our best advantage. Our videos have been viewed 6m times, 1.2m a month are visiting the new website, still in progress, 1/2m watched the High Court video response.
The Press are not friendly to us. We do what we can and this week we had front page of the Mirror and we are considering taking ads in the Mirror, Guardian etc. Jeremy Corbyn and this time will be wearing support Postal Workers badges in the next few PMQ’s.
Postal Workers day in December will be a focus for further campaigning with perhaps a Sunday Rally in London. Note that the very successful Petition was suggested by Hull Branch. Keep suggestions coming in and we’ll look at them.
• On the political campaign can we arrange model resolutions for Constituency Labour Parties etc.?
• Can we comment on the letter from Millidge which mentioned a 15.30 last letter time?
• Why did RMG not request mediation before going to Court and could we request local mediation where local executive action has happened ?
• Can you explain the six month IA period and whether it would be extended?
• What if RM concede on part of the 4 Pillars?
• Can we serve an injunction on RM to make the new structure answerable to the IRF?
• In Tonbridge RM have employed casual workers on 39 hr contracts employed 9am to 5pm. What are we doing about it?
• Why are we still co-operating with Revision activity in DO’s.?
Answered – the Millidge letter is fiction. It goes against RM plans for the pipeline. They are calculating start times back to allow removal of all flights, take out distribution runs and use of 17.5t vehicles with the closure and merger of DO’s, Mail centres and distribution hubs.
We need a better understanding locally of the Agenda for Growth, perhaps added to existing CWU training courses. This is still a fighting Union, any local executive action should be put into the IR Framework or flashpoint procedure. Local ballots are not ruled out.
On the Court case, our legal advice was that there had been a form of external mediation with a presence at national talks. The Judge ruled this was not enough.
All through these talks we have made it plain that all the 4 Pillars must be satisfied. RM have asked us to drop certain aspects, we have refused.
We have model resolutions ready to go, they go further than the current position. We will use these to stimulate public support and engage politicians.
The Agenda for Growth is not a no strike agreement, it merely promotes industrial stability – we don’t take industrial action and they don’t take executive action. It is an evidence based approach. The CWU should use the Agenda for Growth mechanisms in the event of local executive action.
There is a lack of goodwill locally that may reflect on upcoming Xmas agreements.
On the pipeline RM have abandoned the mornings to the parcel competition. We are not even talking the same language at talks on the pipeline. The CWU position has not changed.
That briefing adjourned and reps marched with banners to a rally at Mount Pleasant.
Eastern Number 5 Branch
With thanks to:
Glasgow & District Amal