Eastern No5 Report from the CWU National Briefing #PowerOfTheUnion

SPECIAL REPORT

CWU National Briefing QEII Building Westminster London February 7th 2018

CWU Divisional, Area and Branch Representatives came from all over the country to the National Briefing in central London to hear a detailed presentation of the negotiators’ deal reached between the union and the company for the National Four Pillars & Pay Agreement.

Opening the event, general secretary Dave Ward said that the package was undoubtedly a good deal for our members and he warmly praised the efforts of deputy general secretary postal (DGSP) Terry Pullinger and his team of senior national officers, as well as the CWU’S army of reps and members who supported the campaign. The deal, and the concessions that have been forced out of Royal Mail, are entirely due to the support from members in the industrial action ballot, he added the union’s communications strategy had also been extremely effective.

Dave went on to outline some of the union’s future in both the wider industrial and political arenas, with emphasis on the CWU being the union making the argument for the New Deal for Workers campaign. And the need to bud for the forthcoming national TUC demonstration scheduled for May. Dave believes if a Labour government is elected then they will re-nationalise Royal Mail and with the current Labour party policies showing they are standing up for workers again. The CWU are the strongest union in this country and are in the position to deliver good industrial agreements and shape the treatment of workers in this country.

Terry Pullinger spoke next, and he began by taking the audience back almost two years, reminding the assembled activists of the national briefing in this very building in March 2016, when our Four Pillars campaign was launched.

We set out our vision and we set our agenda, he recalled and drew comparisons between the company’s initial position at that time and the extremely significant progress made on all four of the Pillars of Security that represented the CWU’s negotiating programme.

We turned Royal Mail around and everyone should be very proud of what has been achieved. Back then, we were at a crossroads and Royal Mail were intent on taking this industry down a different road. We are now taking it down a positive road.

He referenced the huge support that members gave to the union in the industrial action ballot last autumn. We shocked Royal Mail, other trade unions, the media, politicians and the public as well. This achievement was even more impressive in the context of the new anti-union laws.

The pay and shorter working week elements of the deal were some way ahead of what is being achieved elsewhere in other sectors, he continued and advised the audience that, if any of your members say that this part of the deal was not enough, then tell them to go and ask the nurse’s what they think, we must accept change. Jobs will change to some degree this is unavoidable we have to recognise this, and control change not refuse to accept it’s not realistic. We will still review our legal protections in 2019 this will be an independent review like the Sawyer report and any changes will not happen until 2020 and will include an agreement to extend the agreement until 2022. This extension will cost Royal Mail half a billion pounds, so we must be realistic about some change. We need to go out there and tell our members how much has been achieved, because it’s massive. In the next few weeks, Terry and his senior team of national officers will be holding a series of unit rep briefings at locations in every part of the UK. Where shift and unit reps will receive the same message. After our regional meeting, which is scheduled for the 21st February, there will be a series of gate meetings and WTLL sessions organised by the branch to relay the message to the membership.

Pensions / Terry Pullinger began the section on pensions by saying Our policy on pensions is not driven just on behalf of our members in the CWU it’s a moral argument on behalf of all workers in this country. I absolutely believe we will push through the secondary legislation required to allow this pension and believe Royal Mail will do the same. Therefore, they have been invited to this meeting to address you and to give you assurances they are positively serious about pushing it through and are already well into the process. There are Universities and other companies waiting for this to go through because they want to convert their pension schemes to the same scheme because it is widely recognised that the current defined contribution pension schemes that most companies have will not support people in retirement and this could lead to big financial problems for this country in the future.

We then heard from Mick Jeavons Royal Mail chief of staff who gave a brief history of our pension schemes and assured us they are committed to make this scheme happen and are talking to all the right people to make this happen.

Jenny hall lead of Royal Mail lobbying group we have started to lobby all the relevant bodies and have made good progress so far and all the responses we have had so far are positive. The legislation to allow the proposal already exists it’s our goal to push the secondary legislation back up the agenda for this government. The Collective Defined contribution pension scheme (CDC) has been running in the Netherlands for over 50 years and has been very successful.

We then watched a pensions video from Hillary salt from First Actuarial she gave a detailed explanation of the proposed (CDC) scheme and outlined what members expectations should be regarding annual and lump sum payments when members retire as well as an explanation of the retirement age of the new scheme and outlined the benefits of taking the option to pay the additional 1% matched by 1% by the business into the scheme.

There was a lengthy Q&A session asking for the details of the extra contributions options to still allow the pension to be taken at 65. Also, confirmation the option would still exist in the new CDC to adjust the amount of lump sum up or down in relation to your annual pension. The CDC will be open to all Royal Mail grades members. HQ are going to send out a booklet to all members explaining the finer details of the new scheme.

So, the most common question is what happens if the legislation is not agreed

Both Ray Ellis and Terry Pullinger said they don’t expect this to happen for many reasons. The one main reason is the transitional pension period for all current DB scheme members plus another 20000 current DC members is still on their balance sheet. They want this legislation to pass just as much, if not more, than us as the new scheme is a separate pension with a shared risk. However, after 12 months there will be a review of the situation to determine whether the legislation is going to pass. If not, then the option might be there to simply tweak the current legislation to allow the CDC scheme and a second option would mean entering fresh negotiations with Royal Mail to look at an acceptable outcome.

In a Q&A session at the end of the briefing ray Ellis confirmed there will be NO changes to the current MTSF agreement and the review of attendance will be looking at opportunities within our current agreement on attendance. So, the core agreement will not change. Davie Robinson said Royal Mails original proposals on pipeline and last letter would completely kill off letter traffic in this industry and mean the end of the USO we have turned them around on all their ideas. This is not a no change agreement it’s a managed change agreement.

Eastern No5 Branch

National Briefing Delegation

9th February 2018

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