CWU PROPOSAL, COVID-19 ESCALATING ISSUES & RESOLVING OUR DISPUTE
CWU Proposal & COVID-19 Escalating Issues
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Branches will be aware that the CWU sent an open letter to the business on 30th March outlining a progressive strategy and a statement of proposals that would have ensured that the company was acting in line with its ‘key worker’ status and that the threat of the virus to our members was minimised as much as possible.
The statement was designed to get ahead of the game and the inevitable consequences arising from the escalation of the Coronavirus. Unfortunately it would seem that Rico Back, CEO, took offence at the content of the union’s policy and decided to disengage from further dialogue. However, on 7thApril Rico Back reengaged with the CWU on a call that had originally been arranged with Sally Ashford, Chief HR Officer, and Achim Dunnwald, Chief Transformation & Strategy Officer. During the call it was agreed that going forward regular, constructive dialogue would take place between myself and Sally Ashford to seek to deal with and resolve a number of outstanding issues causing major concerns for our members.
Whilst the aforementioned statement has certainly helped to build pressure on the business in terms of PPE provision, the CWU are well aware that social distancing problems still exist in many locations. Clearly the size and location of some units is a factor in this and we believe the proposals contained in our statement would have helped reduce such cases.
We are also aware that there are still a number of outstanding big ticket issues that have to be resolved, including the prioritisation of mail and saving lives, and matters that have been highlighted in feedback the Postal Executive has received from Branches and Divisions. Matters such as lack of flexibility around annual leave, measures for those over 65 years of age and HR policies needed to address full pay for those who are taking care of dependants.
In light of this I have written to Sally Ashford (attached) with the request that the business reconsider our proposal of 30th March and commence dialogue with the union to mitigate the escalation of issues during the COVID-19 crisis and find mutual interest solutions. In addition to this, Carl Maden, Acting Assistant Secretary, continues to work tirelessly to resolve issues relating to sick pay and annual leave.
As I have previously stated, this is an extremely difficult time for our members and Royal Mail Group must be held to task. Whilst talks will be difficult, the escalation process will at least provide another avenue to challenge the company.
Resolving our Dispute
Although the current Coronavirus pandemic and management’s failure to respond to CWU proposed solutions has naturally taken centre stage recently, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the fact that we are still in dispute nationally. Since the result of the national ballot(s) on 17th March 2020, it is worth recognising that the business has continued to make reference to their desire to resolve the issues that remain in dispute.
Equally there is an outstanding pay rise to be concluded that was due on 1st April 2020. Branches will recall that during our ballots and prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the company unilaterally made an offer of a 6% pay rise over three years directly to the frontline which was unacceptable and rejected by us with a reminder to the business that the 2020 pay settlement is separate from our “honouring the Four Pillars” dispute (as reported in LTB 92/20). RMG’s actions were undoubtedly aimed at confusing the issues in dispute, potentially paving the way for another legal challenge and encouraging members to not support the ballot.
Against that backdrop I have now written to Achim Dunnwald (attached) with the offer of commencing dialogue on the issues in dispute and matters of reward. Branches will note that I have asked the business to provide its views on how the current crisis may impact upon its business plan and the timescales contained therein.
Additionally, in recognition of the sterling work that our members have performed and their continued commitment during this crisis, I have asked for an above inflation pay rise on all aspects of pay to be implemented from 1st April 2020, as well as a one-off payment to recognise the key worker status of our members. It should be noted however that crucially these are separate to the outstanding issues and Shorter Working Week relating to the 2019 pay award.
Colleagues will no doubt recognise that the approach suggested in my letter, including the request to provide an extension to our ballot, will provide the best foundation at this moment in time to progress dispute resolution talks.
In closing I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our Representatives, at all levels of this union, for the amazing job they are doing, and please stay safe.
Any enquiries in relation to the content of this LTB should be addressed to the DGS(P) Department.
Deputy General Secretary (Postal)