Colleagues will recall that following the disruption caused by the adverse weather system “the Beast from the East” in early 2018, Conference adopted Emergency Motion 2 at Annual Conference, the terms of which are reproduced below for ease of reference.
This Conference notes with concern the severe weather front known as ‘the beast from the east’ that occurred within the UK between 24 February and 4 March, and its effects on CWU members whilst travelling to and from work, and also on their health and safety whilst at work.
Conference also notes with concern the various contradictory versions of Royal Mail Group’s policies on severe weather, together with their inconsistent application by the employer, that resulted in members being asked to make lost time good; take annual leave; or lose pay altogether during this period.
Conference further notes the inconsistency between CWU policy and Royal Mail policy on this issue, and therefore instructs the PEC to seek agreement with Royal Mail Group on a jointly agreed severe weather policy and guidelines.
Any agreement shall include reference and guidance on the following issues prior to any potential loss of pay/making time good/taking annual leave:-
- Any relevant red/amber/yellow weather warnings in place at the time, and their geography
- Decision making levels on attendance to and from work, and also the outdoor area in which each individual works
- The underlying principle that each case is taken on its own merits
- This agreement would also cover the recent issues with Royal Mail which has seen members being penalised
This list is not exhaustive.
Since Conference the Postal Executive have continued to pursue the terms of the Motion and to this end Bobby Weatherall, Postal Executive member has been leading on this on behalf of the DGS(P) Department.
The initial activity undertaken was to carry out a review in Scotland and Northern Ireland in order to identify where inconsistencies in the application of Royal Mail’s Adverse Weather Policy had been encountered by our members. The joint review with the business involved holding meetings with workplace Representatives in affected locations as well as a jointly agreed CWU/RM questionnaire being distributed to Representatives and units who were affected by the severe weather encountered last year.
The information derived from the joint review exercise was reported to the Postal Executive. The report also contained 7 jointly agreed recommendations that are listed below which will now be used to address where the application (or misapplication) of Royal Mail’s Adverse Weather Policy has been identified:
- Should the occasion of this type of extreme weather occur again, Royal Mail, as a matter of priority, should issue guidance on how to apply the adverse weather policy to all managers so that it is applied consistently. This should also include advice on, or reissue of, the Other Time Off policy.
- If employees are unable to attend for reasons relating to school closures/care issues it is important that managers consider the employee’s circumstances in line with the Other Time Off policy.
- Ensure that no pay is deducted without the employee’s consent, preferably in writing.
- For anyone who is not able to attend the workplace, a one to one conversation should be held on their return to explain the policy and agree the appropriate solution dependent on the circumstances of the non- attendance in line with the Adverse Weather Policy. The employee should be entitled to accompaniment by a union rep if they wish at the one to ones.
- Due to the specific information received about Edinburgh Mail Centre and their application of the policy, it is recommended that a review is undertaken by the local People Business Partner to ensure that any misapplication is corrected.
- If anyone believes that either the Adverse Weather Policy or Other Time Off policy has not been followed appropriately for their personal circumstances, the normal process should be followed, i.e. they should raise their concern informally with their line manager and if not satisfied with the response, should follow the formal grievance policy.
- Royal Mail and CWU should review the Adverse Weather Policy against the Government/Met Office/Police’s use of weather warnings (and in particular ‘Red Weather Warnings’), to ensure that it contains sufficient advice for managers on how to manage the operation when the warnings are issued, using the SHE team for advice.
Bobby has now written to the business to ensure the recommendations are acted upon and is currently seeking meeting dates to move this forward. Once this process has been deployed and applied in the Scotland/Northern Ireland Division, it will then be extended to other parts of the UK who were affected by the severe weather encountered in early 2018. Further updates on this aspect will be provided to the Committee in due course.
It would be remiss of the Department not to place on record on behalf of the Postal Executive our thanks for the assistance and support provided to Bobby by the Divisional Representatives, Branches and CWU Representatives from the Scotland and Northern Ireland Division.
As part of the continuing activity in relation to adverse weather situations, the Postal Executive remain convinced that the best way forward is for there to be a joint agreement or statement in place, particularly in light of the pattern of extreme weather that has affected various parts of the UK over the past 12 months. As well as the “Beast from the East”, we have encountered extreme heatwaves, near hurricane force winds, severe rainfall and flooding, all of which bring with them not only physical dangers to postal workers but also present members and their families with their own challenges. Whether the spate of extreme weather in 2018 is a result of climate change or other atmospheric activity, the fact is these situations are on the increase and look likely to continue.
To this end the Union has exchanged correspondence with the business in an attempt to reach a joint agreement or statement that can help members, Representatives and local managers address the impact of adverse weather conditions in a more collaborative manner based on the facts of the situation within their locality.
Royal Mail’s initial response has unfortunately been somewhat negative stating that as their policy has been worked up with the CWU’s Health and Safety Department a joint statement is therefore not required. Irrespective of this, it is the Union’s intention to continue to pursue an agreed position on adverse weather as the Postal Executive believe it is good business practice to have an agreement in place (rather than just a unilateral policy) which reflects the spirit and intent of the Four Pillars Agreement especially Section 4 “Royal Mail Group’s Commitment to its People”.
In the intervening period, while we continue with the activity in Scotland and Northern Ireland to pursue an agreed position with the company, the business will apply their current policy (copy attached), likewise the CWU will endure to ensure our members are fairly treated when this is applied and where necessary utilise the full terms of the IR Framework Agreement to make sure this is the case.
The business are fully aware of the Union’s position and have confirmed they have reissued the current Adverse Weather Policy to all Operational Managers so they can familiarise themselves with its content and process. We do however want to assure colleagues that we are continuing to pursue a new and fully representative policy to cover all severe weather events our members may encounter including when ‘Red Alert’ warnings and advice are issued by the relevant authorities.
Further updates will be provided to Branches in due course.
Any enquiries in relation to the content of this LTB should be addressed to the DGS(P) Department.
Deputy General Secretary (Postal)