CWU National Briefing Liverpool 17th December 2019
Dave Ward opened the meeting by speaking about the Labour Party’sdisastrous election results. He said Labour had got it wrong on Brexit and the leadership stood no chance after 4 years of media assassination, plus he was undermined by many Labour MP’s.
Trade Unions need to reflect on the disconnection they have with the working-class areas which has got worse over the last 3 decades. The CWU will take it’s time before sanctioning any leadership candidate and will ensure that Branches will be involved in any decision process.Dave said he will be meeting Francis O’Grady (TUC GS) later today to discuss how Trade Unions should progress.
In respect to Industrial Action (IA) ballot injunction, if we remain solid, Royal Mail (RM) cannot implement their agenda. The CWU are miles ahead of other Unions in engagement with their members and we must maintain this going forward. RM cannot sustain the industry on parcels alone and will need to invest in other products as well as the market has changed and will continue to do so. There is nothing stronger in this industry than the workforce.
Tony Kearns spoke at length about the anti-trade union laws 1992 and 2016 and how RM used these laws to win an injunction against our ballot. Citing the members were entitled by law to cast their vote in secret in their own homes and they produced evidence in the form of video footage of members being encouraged to vote in delivery office at certain dates and times which proved the papers had not been delivered to their home addresses. The specific court ruling only applies to the CWU, due to the unique position of ballot papers being in frames in Delivery Offices where the members work
Yes, the CWU did encourage their members to vote early but did notinstruct them to take the papers out of frames, even though, he emphasised there has always been a custom and practice of taking your own mail from frames.
In the appeal the judgment said the difference in RM and CWU wasvanishingly small. One judge accepted the process had no bearing on the result. It took the judges less than 120 seconds to deliberate on 6 hours of legal debate. We will sit down with the legal team in the New Year to establish what we can and specifically cannot do to encourage our members to vote and vote yes. Because we must be able to encourage members to vote to get over the legal thresholds implemented by the Anti-Trade-Union laws.
Terry Pullinger spoke about if it was right or not to call the briefing but said that things had changed significantly in the last few days and he wouldn’t of called the meeting if there was not anything to report. He also emphasised the General Election result won’t change what the CWU does. Labour has not won in the last 4 elections and we have had to cope with coalition and Tory governments during that time, along with 6 years of privatisation and we are still here. We’ve got to dust ourselves off and realise the strength of this union’s membership and solidarity makes us what we are. We are like a swiss army knife, if one tool won’t work, we’ll use another one, we’ve got plenty of options.
He said what he heard from the Judges in the appeal was “Bullshit”, and “I will never accept that this union, it’s reps or the members did anything wrong”.
The CWU is in a strong position and RM have been shocked by our resolve. They had not anticipated people would show the kind of solidarity they have in the face of the court injunction. They now know they cannot implement their plans without the members on board and whilst we are so strong.
Terry emphasised the Half Year results showed that RM walking away from the 4 Pillars Agreement was wrong and in doing so they had held the business back for the last 18 months. They have not been able to deliver their promises they made. We have been talking to the shareholders and pressure from them has forced RM to talk to the CWU.
Terry then stated we have spoke to RM and there will be a meeting before Christmas to set out some agreed points and to set a structure for talks to take place in the new year as long as these points are agreed then we will agree to a period of calm and not to re-ballot until at leastthe end of February whilst we work on a potential agreement to protect our members terms and conditions job security and standard of living.The terms of the talks will need to include no re-entry of the mediation process as that has been concluded. Everything needs to be on the table, RM need to back off with the TUPE of Parcelforce agenda. Shorter Working Week needs to form part of the talks.
Terry confirmed that RM had agreed to all the points raised in the open letter he sent for formal talks to be held. Terry emphasised that our strength has got us back in talks, and we need to use this to get an agreement, not just for our members, but to save the industry.
He emphasised that if RM relented on backing off from TUPE for Parcelforce then he would not hesitate to re–ballot and take industrialaction the same would apply if RM pulled away from talks.
If, at end of February, no genuine progress has been made and RM still adamant on progressing their agenda, then we would re-ballot. Terry informed us that the union has asked for RM finances to be shared, as they are saying their end of year accounts predict a possible loss next year. We will continue to meet with shareholders in New Year. We need to turn this strength into gaining an agreement to cover all 21 points on ballot paper.
There was a Q & A session and answering a question, Terry said “thejudicial system is bent, we are up against a wall of prejudice from the establishment. Our members didn’t do anything they don’t do every week without a challenge from RM. Our members should be proud because their solidarity has forced RM hand. A ballot for IA doesn’t mean we have to strike. If it forces both parties back into negotiations,then it worked”.
As we approach 2020 The Eastern No5 BranchCommittee and Representatives would like to take this opportunity of thanking all our members for your solidarity and support throughout this dispute and we wish you a Happy Christmas and ProsperousNew Year. We look forward to your continued support and solidarity in 2020.