Ballot for Industrial Action
From 24th September 2019 you will be receiving an industrial action ballot paper asking you to vote yes for industrial action.
This communication is designed to provide you
with the reasons why there is no other choice but
to fight to protect your terms and conditions and to vote yes.
What is the dispute about?
The new Chief Executive, Rico Back, has clearly
decided that the way forward for Royal Mail is to
have a cheaper more flexible workforce.
This is why Royal Mail, under Rico Back’s leadership, has developed a strategy which is designed to marginalise the CWU in order to create a cheaper more flexible employment model.
What is Royal Mail’s strategy?
RDCs or International. It is important that members understand TUPE only protects terms and conditions for a year.
So what happens next?
and the close of the ballot will be 15 October 2019.
What do I need to do as a member?
Why should I support the CWU?
The CWU have over many years not only defended members terms and conditions but also won significant new benefits for the members.
These benefits include:
Basic pensionable pay
London Weighting pay ranges
Paid meal reliefs
Shift allowances which are pensionable
5 day or less working
All of the above is because previous union
members have taken industrial action to achieve.
The CWU members have also stopped over many
years Royal Mail’s proposals on:
Reducing sick leave
Cutting shift allowances
Introducing delivery duties from 09:00 in the
morning to 17:00 in the late afternoon
Introducing team working
Only by voting yes will the CWU be in a strong
position to defend members terms and conditions.
Unless we get a massive yes vote then Royal Mail
will attack our hard-fought terms and conditions.
Defend Your Future
Use Your Vote
Last week we discovered that Royal Mail have decided to cease all communications on the ballot for the next four weeks.
This is nothing but a sinister move to attempt to reduce the turnout. They know they’ve lost the battle on the yes vote and this is about them trying to reduce debate, interest and interaction with the ballot so people don’t vote.
In short, it won’t work. We’ve got a detailed plan this week and we’ll go for it like never before next week.
That said, there is no room for complacency. We need the meetings to continue in every workplace and particularly in offices where there’s no local rep or smaller offices – nowhere should be left out.
What we also know is once we’ve got the yes vote they will re-commence comms focused on pressuring people not to take strike action. We will deal with this as well. We’ve been there before many times.
In addition to this I have suspected for some time that we’ve been the victim of BOTS targeting our social media accounts. These are accounts which post anti-union comments but then when you check their profiles they are clearly fake accounts set up for solely this purpose.
Over the weekend we set a few traps on our social media pages and can confirm we deleted dozens of comments from fake accounts. There’s no links to suggest this is Royal Mail. It could be the same right wing organisations who target elections.
What it shows is we are once again up against a significant machine that does not want us to win this ballot. The only answer is for us to show our strength in the next couple of weeks. We will give you the resources but the reality is non of that matters unless we reach the frontline. Get out there, whip the membership into a frenzy and let’s deliver the biggest yes vote in the union’s history. We shall not be moved.
Get the Me+1 message out there
The Battle at Royal Mail
By Dave Ward
At the end of August the Communication Workers Union (CWU) announced that we would be balloting 110,000 frontline postal workers for strike action in Royal Mail. The last time we did so, back in 2017, we delivered a huge 89% Yes vote on a 74% turnout. As one of the few truly national and strongly unionised employers in the UK, Royal Mail is heading towards one of the biggest industrial disputes we have seen in this country for years — and it’s a dispute that has its roots in the course of liberalisation and privatisation that began in October 2012.
While the CWU ran a huge public campaign to prevent the sell-off in the first place, once it happened we needed to protect our members and the public from the inevitable attacks that private ownership would bring. All of the commentary from City investors in the run-up to Royal Mail being sold was that staff were being overpaid, and it needed to adopt the sort of bogus self-employment model that new parcel companies like Yodel and Amazon were relying on. Ditching the longstanding legal obligation to provide a mail service for six days a week, they said, would help realise billions in cost savings and profits. To the banks and hedge funds our 500-year-old public asset was little more than a get-rich-quick scheme.
In the run-up to the sale we balloted our members and Royal Mail was forced to negotiate what was a groundbreaking legal agreement with the union, which restricted what the new private management could do. This prevented it from joining the race to the bottom on employment standards with a ban on the introduction of zero hours contracts; prevented any moves to water-down existing terms and conditions or to introduce a two-tier workforce; and brought in tight controls on the use of temporary, part-time, or agency work. These were significant wins for staff in Royal Mail. Alongside this, the agreement prevented the outsourcing or selling off of any part of the company and embedded the voice of the workforce through the union at both a local and a national level.
Of course, this hasn’t prevented every problem from privatisation. Shareholders have still been able to take out over £1 billion in dividends and scale back services for the public. But it has blocked some of the worst attacks Royal Mail staff and those who rely on its services would otherwise have seen. So, inevitably, this agreement and the public ethos of Royal Mail have come under increasing pressure. In 2017, the union was again forced to ballot our members and we secured a fresh deal that built on the legal protections. This meant Royal Mail committed to a flightpath to taking four hours off the working week for full time staff. At a time when workers have been under increasing pressure across the board, these sorts of deals demonstrated the value of a strong workplace trade union.
But now this is something Royal Mail wants to call time on. In 2018, it appointed a new CEO, Rico Back, who had previously been in charge of GLS — Royal Mail’s European parcel business. He’s no stranger to a decent pay packet, having received a £6 million ‘golden hello’ just for taking up his new job, not that the workforce he employed in GLS would know it. Like many parcel delivery companies in the UK, it has relied on bogus self-employment to pay frontline workers as little as €3-per-hour. Günter Wallraff, a journalist with German TV channel RTL, spent months working undercover in GLS. He exposed people working 14-hour days without a break, suffering harassment, and being ‘ruined physically, nervously, and financially’ by what he described as ‘modern slavery’ in the business.
The culture Rico Back has brought to the top of Royal Mail appears to regard these Victorian working practices not as a relic from the past but the model for the future. Meeting the union for the first time earlier this year, he told us that Royal Mail is his company, he can do what he wants with it, and he sees no reason to engage with the CWU. And he’s been true to his word. In the past four months alone there have been three major announcements that will significantly hit staff without any discussion with the union — despite our agreements requiring proper strategic engagement.
The 2012 legal protections, which stopped the rapacious asset-stripping the private shareholders have been pushing for, are being torn up by the new management team. They have also made the first moves to separate, and ultimately break up and sell off, parts of the company — starting with Parcelforce this October. And, under their new plans, Royal Mail would scrap the protections for staff that have prevented a race to the bottom on terms and conditions. There appears to be no desire on Royal Mail’s part to honour our agreements and to give the union a say.
Most worryingly for the public, it is also refusing to commit to the six-day universal service, with its legal obligation coming up for review by the regulator Ofcom. Not only is Royal Mail refusing to defend it, but its new strategy is designed to take profitable work away from the core service, which will inevitably make it unsustainable in the future. This is the beginning of the end for a daily postal service provided to all parts of the country, something that many small businesses and individuals rely on. For staff, the move to a five-day service will mean 20,000 job losses at a stroke.
These are crucial times for the future of the industry. But in the here and now too CWU members are making it clear that they are sick and tired of the relentless demands on daily workload, which has created a culture of bullying and constant cost-cutting, directly threatening the wellbeing of the workforce. As a result, we have seen a huge spike in conduct and attendance cases being used to target staff and union representatives.
And of course, technology is playing a role in this battle. Royal Mail is trying to track and monitor delivery staff every second of the day while they are out on their rounds. For postal workers — who once enjoyed the freedom to engage with customers and who were previously empowered whilst out on delivery — this all-too-often feels like wearing a prison tag. We understand the need for technology to improve services and as part of an agenda to grow the business, but this method of ‘modernising’ an industry will do neither.
So, once again, we find ourselves in a place where we have to take a stand. At the end of September the CWU will be balloting over 110,000 frontline workers in Royal Mail for strike action. Our reps are already holding gate meetings with members across the country in a show of strength that few unions in this country can match. And we are asking the public to back their postal workers in a dispute that goes to the very heart of how a company and a service should be run.
So please show your support on social media. Our members are using the hashtag #WeRiseAgain to show their determination to fight for a better future for themselves and their customers. Let them know whose side you are on. This battle is not just for postal services — it’s a milestone in the fight to protect every service our communities rely upon from the corrosive impact of privatisation.
About the Author
Dave Ward is general secretary of the Communication Workers Union.
Workplace Action on Mental Health – A Trade Union Guide – LRD Booklet 2019
Mental health and ill health may currently be high in the news agenda, but people experiencing mental health problems are still facing numerous difficulties at work. Recent figures show that 300,000 workers with long-term mental health problems are losing their jobs each year, and many more with intermittent problems are struggling in their work.
A new booklet from LRD gives practical advice to Trade Union Representatives on workplace policies and procedures on mental health. It covers the law and mental health, health and safety law and the equality act, mental health policies, victimisation and harassment, training Mental Health First Aid, avoiding the ‘resilience approach’, procedures in the workplace, attendance, discipline, capability, workplace reasonable adjustments etc.
The booklet aims to help Union Reps and Health and Safety Reps to work with employers to make workplaces supportive for individuals experiencing either long-term or short-term mental health difficulties and to ensure that mental health problems are not created by work itself. It contains best practice guidance on the sorts of policies and reasonable adjustments that can be made to support affected employees and prevent others from struggling, and includes examples of action already undertaken by unions around the country.
The CWU, Royal Mail and BT are covered on pages 33-36.
Single copies of the Booklet cost £8.95 but orders over 100 reduce the price to £4.92 a copy for Branches considering bulk orders.
Order Form attached.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
CLIMATE CRISIS AND A JUST TRANSITION: GLOBAL SCHOOL STRIKE
At TUC Congress held week commencing the 8th September delegates debated and agreed a motion under the above heading.
The motion laid out a series of positions around the issue of climate change, particularly in stating and agreeing that climate change is a trade union issue. The motion went on to point out that the future of our planet is at risk if we don’t organise now to force Governments to cut emissions in line with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report.
The issue of climate change and how to respond to it is a multi-faceted subject. The General Secretary has asked that the Senior Deputy General Secretary produce a strategy paper to go before the NEC to agree a wide ranging position for the CWU to play a much larger role both in the debate and campaigning within the Labour and Trade Union movement. In addition such a position will not only set campaigning priorities but will also identify those areas where the issue of climate change is likely to have an impact on the industries we organise in.
Separately to the above the Young Workers Committee and subsequently the NEC have already agreed support for a motion from Labour For a Green New Deal that sets out a series of issues and actions that Government must take to reverse the effects of carbon emissions. Details of that campaign and the motion can be found atwww.labourgnd.uk
Once the approach to developing our position has been set out, we will ensure that those who wish to contribute to the development of our strategy have the opportunity to do so.
In the meantime the motion carried at the TUC called for a number of actions that we will need to consider in developing our own strategy. The most urgent of these concerned the Global School Strike being organised by school students across the world on the 20th September. The TUC is calling for a 30 minute workday campaign action to take place on that day in order to show solidarity with school students as they protest against Government inaction and highlight the real dangers posed by climate change.
The CWU supports this call and asks that Branches encourage Reps and members to support, in whatever way they can, any local events taking place on this day. Helpfully the Campaign against Climate Change has the following link on their website highlighting what events are being planned around the country as well as listing some actions other Unions are taking on the day:
As we develop our position there will be further opportunities for Branches, Reps and members to become involved in campaigning on this issue. As the motion carried at TUC Congress specifically referred to the actions taking place on the 20th September we wanted to highlight that particular day of action, encourage participation in local events but also inform branches of the approach we are adopting to developing a comprehensive policy of engagement and campaigning on this crucial issue.
Senior Deputy General Secretary
Brake & Direct Line Report on Safe Driving – Roads, Policing and Criminal Justice
‘Brake’ the road safety charity are calling for an increased Police presence on the roads to deter people from breaking the law, as a report is launched revealing that drivers feel roads are more dangerous now than they were five years ago.
The report by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line, based on a survey of more than 1,000 drivers, revealed that 7 in 10 feel that the roads are more dangerous now than five years ago, with less than 1 in 10 disagreeing.
Drivers also think that the numbers of speeding vehicles and the extent of mobile phone use behind the wheel have increased over this period but that the number of Police cars has declined.
With severe funding cuts impacting the Police service, Brake is concerned that a diminished Police presence is contributing to Britain’s stagnating road safety record. Brake’s report revealed that drivers share these concerns, with 8 in 10 agreeing that a visible Police presence deters people from breaking the law and a further 8 in 10 thinking there should be more Police cars patrolling the roads.
More than 70 people are killed or seriously injured on British roads every day, a figure which has failed to decline over the past decade.
Police officers play a vital role in enforcing the law, but equally important is their role as a deterrent to dangerous driving, with research showing the safety value in a visible Police presence. In the past three years there has been a 15% decline in road policing numbers in England and Wales, with just 4,457 full time equivalent officers in March 2019.
Road safety charity Brake wants to see increased investment in road policing to halt the stagnation in road safety and ensure there is a visible deterrent to dangerous driving on our roads. This is a view backed up by drivers, with 6 in 10 agreeing that the Government should make road policing an investment priority.
Brake state that drivers’ perceptions tell us a lot about the safety of our roads and so it’s deeply concerning to find that drivers feel the roads are more dangerous than they were five years ago. With road policing suffering severe cutbacks, and drivers noticing the decreased Police presence on our roads, this shouldn’t come as such a surprise. Action is needed to address the stagnation in British road safety by increasing Police numbers, to deter and enforce against dangerous driving.
Education, legislation and enforcement are essential to making our roads safer. As this research shows road users feel our roads are not as safe now as they were five years ago. Changing driver behaviour can only be achieved through ensuring they are aware of the potential consequences of their actions and having robust laws in place that are able to be enforced.
Brake & Direct Line Report on Safe Driving – Roads, Policing and Criminal Justice
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
TUC Survey Of Union Reps & TU Safety Reps:
The TUC National Health and Safety Policy Officer has requested that all Unions request the support and participation of all Union Reps, including Health and Safety Reps. This is an additional survey to the TUC Biennial Safety Reps Survey due next year.
This is a special time in the TUC calendar when they survey TU Reps from all Unions. This is not just a taking of the temperature, or a chance to reflect on ‘tough times’. It is a very real chance to influence what support the TUC offers to Reps through training courses, guidance documents etc.
This survey is part of a major piece of research by the TUC into the role of Union Reps in the modern workplace. Your response will help to shape the future of the TUC and help them to decide how the TUC and affiliated Unions support Reps in future. This is a major survey and will take in the region of 20 minutes to complete depending on your answers. You can save and print your answers before you submit them at the end.
The TUC believes in a movement with Reps at the forefront of what they do. That means supporting Reps to win in the workplace – from resources and learning, to events and guidance.
If we want to change things, it needs all of us involved. Union Reps/Safety Reps can take this survey to contribute to the TUC strategy and help shape the future of the TU movement. The TUC is undertaking a major piece of research into the role of Union Reps in the modern workforce and they’ve been travelling round the country speaking to Reps and are now launching this UK-wide Trade Union Reps survey. Responses will help shape the future of the TUC and refine how they and our affiliated unions support Reps in future.
Please Take the survey now
Completing this survey will also enter you into a prize draw to win:
- First prize: £500 TUI travel gift card
The direct link to the survey is https://www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=156633107402.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
Stoptober’ Campaign 2019 – Helping Smokers Quit!
To: All Branches
As October is approaching we are reminding Branches of the national ‘Stoptober Campaign’ promoted by Public Health England.
Giving up smoking is not easy, but the benefits are huge:
- Save Money – You’ll have much more cash in your pocket. If you smoke a packet a day, you could save around £250 each month!
- Boost your health – No matter how long you’ve smoked for, quitting can help improve your health straight away.
- Quit for your family – You’re more likely to live longer and have more energy for quality time with your children, family and friends.
If you don’t smoke, why not try and support and reassure someone who does, remind them of the benefits of giving up.
If you need support to stop smoking there is lots of guidance on the ‘Stoptober’ Website at: www.nhs.uk/OneYou/Stoptober and the RMG ‘Feeling First Class’ Website at: www.feelingfirstclass.co.uk. The guidance includes advice on how to suppress the triggers that make you want to smoke and handle cravings.
For more information on wellbeing why not take a look at the ‘Feeling First Class’ Website at; www.feelingfirstclass.co.uk (Use the code FFC1 to sign up). The CWU Health Safety and Environment Department are encouraging RMG employee CWU members to ‘Sign-Up’ as a “FFC” Website member in order to utilise all the on-line Health Tools and utilise the full benefits available.
There are also lots of ideas for ways to support giving up smoking on the Stoptober web page. Visit the following Link: https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/6-stoptober/resources
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer