Letter Section:National Briefing  Report October 2019

As you are all aware, honouring the four pillars campaign hasbeen taking place within the branch and across the whole country the branch Reps and officers Steve Clarke, Ernie Orviss, Andy Beeby and myself, with assistance from Julian Charlton, Mark Biggs and Steve Butts conducted gate meetings in every single delivery unit and SPDO across the patch. We also held 11 gate meetings at the Mail Centre to encompass the Network, Distribution, Collections, Deliveries, Print site and Processing staff. The gate meetings were well attended and very well received by all who attended them.People listened to what we had to say, and we received very positive feedback. The last meetings coincided with the opening of the National industrial action ballot. The branch sent a home post out to all members and obviously recommended a yes vote.

On the 15th of October there was a ballot announcement briefing held in London at Friends House. The branch attended the briefing which started at 13:00 and was opened by General Secretary Dave Ward who spoke about how this wasn’t just a day for a result for us as postal workers but it was about standing up for every downtrodden worker in this country and standing up to the antitrade union laws put in place to make it as hard as possible for us to take strike action.After this was an address by Terry Pullinger, who gave a rousing speech around how proud he was of all the hard work every single rep and member has put into this campaign, he also told us that Unite (the managers union) had decided to announce they have come to an agreement over managers pay deal on the same day as we announce our ballot result he used some choice language to describe his feelings about the matter. He also gave a short update on mediation and said that in his opinion mediation was set to close this week, with a three-week period for the mediator’s report to be concluded and possibly acted upon. However, he didn’t expect any progress. Although, the ballot result may well change that, but it needed a distinct change of direction from Royal Mail.Terry made it clear that he didn’t think they would do so untilwe take strike action.

There was then a question and answer session. Many reps from all over the country voiced their opinions on the type of strike action we should be taking, and the consensus was that people didn’t want functional strikes but favoured one out all out strikes. The meeting was then adjourned for about 45 minutes.

We returned at 15:15 to a live Facebook feed, which was made available for all members to watch and this was shared on the branch Facebook and website as well as Whatsapp. At 15:30 Jane Loftus read out the ballot results. I’m very happy to report that we had a fantastic 94% and 95% Yes vote in both Parcelforce ballots and an incredible 97.1% Yes vote with a 78.4% turnout in the Royal Mail Group ballot. These were the highest YES votes recorded since the new anti-tradeunion laws were introduced. 

We then had a press conference for invited journalists from the BBC, Financial Times and Morning Star to ask questions.Terry Pullinger and Dave Ward answered the questions which were mainly about strike dates and what can be done to prevent them. Terry emphasised the importance of the press coverage on this dispute and it will be interesting to see how you report it. You have the power to influence the British public and you should do so by reporting the truth in that the dispute is not about wanting more but about keeping what we have got and to stop these greedy ruthless carpet baggers, Rico Back has employed from breaking Royal Mail up for a quick profit. It’s a National disgrace that this is being allowed to happen. Terry went on to say in his summing up, this was the fight of our lives and that he would not back down. He wouldn’t give an inch, he said he will fight as hard and as long as he must, and while he’s still got a breath in his body.He will fight to defend what he thinks is right and he’ll fight to defend our futures in this industry. The briefing closed at 17:00. 

The next steps will be an announcement of any strike action if Royal Mail don’t start to negotiate meaningfully. The earliest a strike can be called is for the 20th November and I believe that there will be an announcement once it has been decided by the Postal Executive.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all of the Reps in all the units where we visited for gate meetings and a massive thanks to all the members for supporting their union and themselves  and delivering a YES vote the solidarity of the members of this union never ceases to amaze me.  

 

Here is a article from the morning star on the ballot announcement 

Communication Workers Union (CWU) members in the Royal Mail Group voted by 97.1 per cent today to take strike action, with a turnout of 75.9 percent.The result is a serious blow to Royal Mail’s new boss Rico Back, whose year at the helm has already involved the company slipping off the FTSE 100 and a shareholder rebellion over his £6 million “welcome package.”He also angered workers with apparent moves to undermine the so-called Four Pillars Agreement, which was struck between the CWU and Royal Mail management in 2018.It saw the formation of four key “pillars of security” for Royal Mail workers on pensions, legal protections, job security and a push towards a 35-hour working week.Seniormanagement figures who backed the agreement have been replaced. Union members have slammed a growing culture of workplace bullying.Despite the resounding vote in favour of postal strikes, a mediation process between Royal Mail and the union will continue before any industrial action can commence.The Star understands that this is only the second national ballot by any trade union to have beaten the 50 per cent turnout threshold imposed by the Tories’ 2016 Trade Union Act.A CWU ballot in 2017 delivered an 89.1 per cent “yes” vote for a strike on a 73 per cent turnout.If strike action is declared at the end of this latest mediation process, it will be the biggest industrial action in the postal industry since 2009.That year saw CWU members walk out in protest at plans that they believed would damage job security and the quality of service.WE RISE AGAINToday’s result comes off the back of an unprecedented campaign by the CWU to get the vote out, under the hashtag #WeRiseAgain.It saw CWU members holding over 1,000 workplace meetings, and a huge effort by the union’s social media team to publicise efforts of people posting their Yes votes on Twitter and Facebook.Whenasked by the Morning Star what he would do if he was in Mr Back’s shoes, Mr Ward told the Star: “He has to make his own mind up with how he deals with this dispute.“If I was in his shoes, I’d walk out of the business today.“I would recognise that his plan for the future is not a plan that postal workers are ever going to buy into.“You cannot run a business of this nature, where you’ve got over 110,000 people out on the streets every single day of the week, right across the UK, if you’ve lost the confidence of the workforce.”CWU deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger added: “If he [Mr Back] decides to go, he’s never going to go hungry.“But this day has nailed it – his legacy now is nothing to be proud of. He’ll have nothing but bad memories with us.“We will fight in every distribution office, parcel office and processing centre every day if we have to.”Speaking outside the press conference, Labour MP Hugh Gaffney –himself a former Parcelforce worker and active CWU member before he was elected as a Labour MP in 2017 – told the Star: “That result today is for every trade union. Get behind us – this is a battle for every worker.“This is it, let’s fight. We’ve given you 97 per cent for yes. The workforce is saying enough is enough – time for change.”A spokeswoman from Royal Mail said the company was “very disappointed” with the ballot.“A ballot result for industrial action does not necessarily mean there will be industrial action. We are still in mediation with the CWU.“Under our Dispute Resolution Procedure, set out in the Agenda for Growth, we are committed to reaching a resolution.“No industrial action can be taken, and formal notification of industrial action cannot be given, before the conclusion of the Dispute Resolution Procedure.She added: “We want to reach agreement.“Industrial action – or the threat of it – is damaging for our business and undermines the trust of our customers

 

Luke Smith

Letter section secretary 

Sub Area processing rep 

Deputy Branch Secretary 

Eastern no 5

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