The purpose of this LTB is to give Branches a comprehensive update on the Redesign Project, set out the approach we are taking to streamline CWU Headquarters and provide a timeline for key decisions to be made in 2018.

Streamlining CWU Headquarters


The current structure of CWU Headquarters and how it operates is unsustainable.

It is based on an amalgam of the two previous unions and their culture and whilst it may have suited a merger that took place in 1995, when CWU had approximately 100,000 more members, going forward it is unaffordable and simply not designed to meet the challenges of the future, including building a platform for growth and influencing a rapidly evolving future world of work.

From the outset, we have been clear that tinkering at the edges is not an option; instead we are planning our future by implementing a radical overhaul of our Headquarters structures and the way we work.

The approach we are taking is crucial to delivering our future and stabilising the financial position of our organisation. It is equally designed to improve the services we provide and how we work together as one union.

The key elements of work that make up the Redesign Project at CWU Headquarters are as follows:-








A New Headquarters Structure – We are designing a new streamlined organisational structure centred on a three pillar foundation of Central Policy and Services, Postal, and T&FS.

Within the Central Policy and Services pillar, we will merge departments and are scoping options for the reallocation of some work and responsibilities. Going forward there will be a much greater emphasis on strategy work and implementation of joined up policy.

We will also develop a way of working that will provide clarity on how the three pillars will support each other, where the roles and responsibilities of each sit and how we harness the strengths of the overall organisation to work with a common purpose in the interests of all members. This is to ensure that we work as “one union” an approach that we believe is key to ensuring that we work collectively for the benefit of all our members.

The DGS (P) and DGS (T) will respectively lead reviews of the work and responsibilities of the industrial departments. This will be undertaken through an appropriate Terms of Reference that will ensure a consistent and coordinated approach.

We are aiming for a new streamlined structure to be finalised, incorporating the above mentioned, by June 2018.

Asset Review – In conjunction with the restructuring of CWU HQ, we are reviewing all of our assets to scope options that include the sale of these and whether or not there are opportunities to generate additional income for the union. The situation the union finds itself in is one where we are cash poor but asset rich and this is the right time for us to consider how we can best utilise our assets to secure the future of the organisation.  In particularly, we are looking at 150 The Broadway and whether a streamlined structure will enable us to relocate to a smaller building and at the same time generate cash for the union to invest in those key areas that will enable us to recruit more new members and provide our reps with the training and tools to carry out their roles.  A similar approach will be taken when scoping options for the Elstead Hotel and Alvescot Lodge, although we are of course looking at this in conjunction with what we need in terms of training and education for the future.  At this stage no decisions have been made and we aim to complete the asset review by June 2018.

Where NEC and Industrial Executive members are based – As part of our approach to streamlining HQ and scoping options for relocating to a smaller building, it’s time to rethink how our NEC and Industrial Executive members work and where they are based. The current approach starts from the premise that if you want to stand for election to our National Executives, you need to base yourself in Wimbledon.  This is thinking from a bygone age.  It creates a very difficult and unhealthy lifestyle for any individual, it is a barrier to people standing for election and therefore a barrier to bringing new people through and it builds in costs that will eventually become prohibitive.

Through significant investment in our IT infrastructure it is entirely possible to design a system where Executive members effectively only need to be in the Headquarters building when relevant meetings are taking place.


The Managing Change Framework – the agreement reached with our Staff Side Union has enabled us to undertake a Voluntary Redundancy programme, whilst ensuring there will be no compulsory redundancies at 150 The Broadway.  The first phase of this programme took place last year, a second phase has just been completed and a third phase will take place in 2018, linked to our new streamlined departmental structure.  So far this has resulted in a headcount reduction of 18 members of staff and this will flow through to a reduction in costs on our salary bill.


PensionsWe have reviewed our internal pension arrangements and following lengthy and detailed negotiations with the recognised trade unions we have reached a Negotiators Agreement on a number of changes to our pension provision structure. This would see future pension accrual and provision consolidated into one scheme for all employees, alongside other proposed pension changes.  The statutory 60 day consultation process for this will commence on the 20th December 2017. Unionline – As Branches will be aware CWU jointly owns Unionline in partnership with the GMB.  When this model was established, it was intended that this would generate significant additional income for the union as well as providing first class legal services to our members.  We are currently reviewing Unionline, to look more closely at its governance, performance, the services it provides and any opportunities for expansion though a new Business Plan.

Improving the overall performance of Unionline is therefore another crucial element in securing the long term future of our organisation.

Recruitment and Organising – How we recruit and organise workers in both recognised and non-recognised companies is fundamental to the strength of the CWU, our wider movement and is integral to the redesign project. Whilst good work continues across the union on recruitment and organising, when

looked at in the context of the wider trade union movement, we have not made the progress we wanted and have not yet built a proper platform to grow the union.

Its time now to strengthen our existing approach with some fresh thinking and a document will be placed before the January NEC meeting setting out the principles for a clearer and more ambitious central union strategy.


Investment We have been clear that as well as achieving financial stability, redesign is also about making significant investment in some key areas, particularly in how we support our frontline representatives, R&O and in modernising our IT infrastructure.




Consultation on Structures outside Headquarters and our Nationally Elected Bodies


In the New Year, we will launch four consultation papers on the following subjects:-

• Conferences

• Regions

• Branches

• NEC and Industrial Executive StructuresTaken together, these consultation papers will provide the union with an opportunity to shape our future and respond to the challenges facing CWU and the wider movement.The consultation process will be launched at a National Briefing in the New Year and over a set period Branches will be invited to comment and respond to key questions about our future.Once the consultation has been completed the NEC will then consider the outcome and reach decisions on any changes we need to make.Following this a full report on redesign and appropriate rule changes will be placed before a Special Conference of the union. This process will enable an informed and democratic debate on our future. Furthermore, by launching the four papers together, it will allow Branches and representatives to input into each paper in its own right and then look at how everything fits together.We are very conscious that Branches are seeking information on when this process will commence. Therefore, we are setting out below a provisional timeline for 2018 that will take us through to a Special Conference.



End of February 2018

National Briefing (Venue TBC)

Redesign consultation process launched

April 21st – 23rd 2018

General Conference – Redesign Session

May 2018

Redesign consultation closes

July-August 2018

Final report on consultation process / draft rule changes for Special Conference to NEC

November 2018

Special Conference


What Type of Union do we want to be?


In addition to the aforementioned consultation process, we will engage Branches, reps and members in a wider debate about what type of union we need to be to become more relevant to the future world of work, improve the engagement and representation of members and reassert trade union values across society.

This element of redesign is about setting out our vision for the future and will also link in with the wider debate, which the CWU has pushed for within the TUC, about the future of our movement.

It will give our members a chance to have their say about what type of union they want and it will give representatives the opportunity to put forward their views on areas such as training and education, our equality/proportionality work and how we can continue to improve our communications. This is an ambitious and exciting piece of work that really will open up redesign to all CWU members.  In the New Year, we will discuss the best way to launch this with our Communications team and the NEC.




You will see from the content of this LTB that a lot of work is going on.

Redesign is happening at CWU Headquarters and delivering a streamlined structure, aligned to decisions on our assets, is paramount to the CWU continuing as a stand-alone union.

In the New Year, the Redesign Project will be opened up and the timeline set out in this LTB demonstrates 2018 will be the year that the union takes vital decisions to secure the future of our organisation.

Any enquiries on the above LTB should be addressed to the

Yours sincerely

Dave Ward – General Secretary

Tony Kearns – Senior Deputy General


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