Royal Mail strike vote at Peterborough – union calls for ‘common sense’ from management

Royal Mail strike vote at Peterborough – union calls for ‘common sense’ from management

Postal, Royal Mail Group (EMP)  

Thursday 24th September 2020

Branch and divisional officials are urging Royal Mail management to “think again and avoid a dispute,” after postal workers in Peterborough voted by 87.8 per cent for strike action to win the reinstatement of a sacked colleague.

The postman, who has worked several years for the business with no previous disciplinary record, was fired in July – action which, the union argues, both “breached” and “unreasonably applied” the company’s conduct agreement.

Branch secretary Andy Beeby (CWU Eastern No5) told CWU News: “The ballot result today shows the huge strength of feeling among members that this sacking was unfair and must be reconsidered.

“It’s their view and the view of this union that the allegations laid against our member here do not, in our view, warrant dismissal,” he explained.

“In fact, in the case we made to management, our divisional rep Steve Butts cited 13 previous cases of comparable incidents which did not lead to summary dismissals.”

In the union’s summary of reasons for the ballot, the CWU states its opinion that the dismissing manager in this case has made the decision to fire the member ‘based on what could have happened in different circumstances rather than the actual facts of what did happen on the day in question’.

“This is completely unacceptable, and we’re calling on the company to reinstate this member, with full pay, benefits and continuity of employment without loss,” Andy says.

The union is also seeking assurances that there will be no further ‘breaches’ or ‘unreasonable applications’ of the agreed conduct process going forward.

“We want this resolved without strike action, and this can be done if the company agrees to apply common sense here,” explains Andy.

“But if they refuse to budge, these members here have pledged that they will strike for their sacked workmate.”

In his reaction to the ballot result, CWU Anglia divisional representative Steve Butts said: “This vote is one of workers’ solidarity, the foundation that this union is built on.

“The dismissal itself is an unreasonable decision in my opinion. Statistics can reveal an unfair approach to the way CWU members are treated when it comes to discipline

CWU Union Learning Representatives Networking Event 2020 #CWULearn20 #NewChallenges

CWU Union Learning Representatives Networking Event 2020

#CWULearn20; #NewChallenges

This year’s networking event will take place on the 3rd – 4th November 2020.

Due to the ongoing Covid 19 situation this year’s event will be held over Zoom.

This event will ensure that our ULRs can discharge their legally recognised responsibilities to great effect
through networking with other educationalists.

Over the two days, delegates will explore new and innovative ideas on learning and enhance their skills so
that they can facilitate both new and ongoing learning opportunities in their workplaces.

This year’s theme is “New Challenges” and will focus heavily on keeping learning open to members
through the pandemic and beyond.

There will be opportunities:

· To meet with other CWU Union Learning Representatives
· To attend virtual workshops & stalls
· To hear from high profile guest speakers
· To learn about the latest CWU learning developments
· And to celebrate your achievements!

Registration
Branches are asked to book ULR delegate places by email to learn@cwu.org with contact details including
name, Branch, contact number and email.

We will send out Zoom links in the run up to the event.

In order to allocate delegates to workshops the deadline for applications is Thursday 29th October 2020.

Since there will be no travel or subsistence expenses we are hoping this will encourage branches to increase
their delegations this year. All ULRs and any branch officers or reps with an interest in education are invited
to attend.

This event is being supported by the CWU and the Union Learning Fund.

Release
This event should attract paid release for those accredited ULRs working for employers where the CWU is
recognised. The event is specifically designed to meet the aims of ULR legislation and is fully supported
through the Government Department for Business Innovation and Skills. The ACAS Code of Practice
applies.

Any enquiries regarding this LTB should be addressed to learn@cwu.org

Yours sincerely,

Kate Hudson
Head of Equality, Training & Development

LTB 467/20 – Union Learning Representatives Networking Event 2020

ELECTION OF CWU NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES POSITIONS. CWU Young Workers Committee

ELECTION OF CWU NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES POSITIONS

  • CWU Young Workers Committee

The above elections were scheduled to take place during May/June 2020 however as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of CWU HQ it was not possible to conduct these elections in the usual way.

Following discussions between the GS Department, SDGS department and the National President and Vice President a document was placed before the September 2020 NEC which once agreed now allows the union to conduct the elections for the Young Workers Committee albeit with revised and specifically designed election arrangements.

Clearly the democratic principles of the CWU are founded on our ability to ensure that the elections are conducted in a fair and equitable way and specifically that members of the union, via their own branch nomination, are given the opportunity to put themselves forward as a candidate. These guiding principles have been included in the revised arrangements a summary of which is set out below in advance of the election process.

Election Timetable 

It is necessary for the election timetable to be significantly longer than normal to allow branches sufficient time to seek nominations from their members and to then subsequently agree on which candidates(s) they intend to nominate for election and, once the list of candidates is known to then decide which candidate(s) will receive the branch vote.

Nomination Process

In respect of seeking nominations branches will need to put in place a robust system and use all reasonable methods at their disposal to publish suitable notification throughout the branch area giving members the opportunity to submit their name for nomination to the position should they choose to do so.  Following this the branch would need to put in place arrangements to hold a membership meeting to decide which candidate(s) will receive the branch nomination.

On the basis that no face to face member meetings are currently allowed then this would need to be conducted via a suitable video conference platform such as Zoom or Skype, etc. that provides the opportunity for large numbers of members to take part if required.

Additionally branches will need to allow for members who do not have video conference capability to join the meeting by phone again if they choose to do so.

The timeline for the meeting would need to be agreed in advance and notification provided to members at least 7 days prior to the meeting taking place.

Dispatch and Return of Nomination Forms to CWU HQ

Nomination forms will be sent to branches electronically via an LTB and it will be our intention to set up a specific dedicated election email address where branches should return completed nomination forms to.

Nomination Forms will need to be returned by the advertised closing date to be included in the list of candidates. 

The revised system will avoid the necessity to return forms in the post system which of course may be subject to delay during the current Covid-19 crisis.

Dispatch and Return of Voting Papers

The respective constituency based voting papers will be sent by email direct to branches at the email address which we hold on file.  Branches should return the completed voting papers by email to the advertised CWU election email address.  Notification will be sent to branches confirming receipt of the voting paper, however it will the responsibility of the branch to ensure that voting papers are returned to the correct email address.

To be included in the ballot voting papers will need to have been returned by the advertised closing date and time.

Branch Voting Recommendations

Clearly we are in unique and challenging times and whilst branches would normally arrange mandating meetings to decide which candidates to vote for in the respective elections we do not believe that this is either practical or necessary during the current crisis.  Therefore, on this occasion this decision can be made by the Branch Committee and the decision subsequently notified to members of their branch accordingly.

Election Timetable and Term of Office 

The election timetable for the above will be as follows:

Nominations Open:                1 October 2020

Nominations Close:                 31 October 2020

Ballot opens:                              7 November 2020

Ballot closes:                              28 November 2020

The term of Office for the above positions will commence from 1st January 2021 for a period of 2 years.

Any enquiries regarding this Letter to Branches should be addressed to the Senior Deputy General Secretary’s Department on telephone number 020 8971 7237, or email address sdgs@cwu.org.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Kearns

Senior Deputy General Secretary

LTB 465/20

View Online

CAPITA TVL: FORMAL PAY OFFER REJECTED

CAPITA TVL: FORMAL PAY OFFER REJECTED

Further to LTBs 016/20 and 220/20 dated 10th January and 23rd April respectively.

Branches are advised that despite the obvious practical constraints due to Covid-19, we have continued our pay negotiations with Capita TVL management throughout the summer period.

The following Joint Statement has been agreed and published in respect of our ongoing pay negotiations and is designed to update members on the current situation. In this regard, there is a 2% offer on the table; however this has been rejected and further details are provided below.

Capita and CWU Pay Negotiations

We are mindful that an update on our pay negotiations is needed. Clearly, we are in the most abnormal year any of us have ever experienced and this has impacted on the traditional way we conduct negotiations. We do though have a good and constructive working relationship which has helped us considerably during our various discussions over the course of the pandemic.

Capita has made a formal 2% pay offer from 1 January 2020 for 12 months, which it believes to be fair in the circumstances. Capita has also introduced the Real Living Wage for the lowest paid staff from 1 April this year, although the policy means there is no pay award for those earning in excess of £28,000 p.a. The CWU, on behalf of its members, has however rejected this offer as it falls short on a number of levels. Despite both parties being keen to find a mutually agreeable way forward, unfortunately we are at an impasse.

Whilst some progress has been made, we are sorry we are unable to be more positive at this stage. We are considering next steps including raising this matter through the agreed Disputes Procedure.

However, at this stage the TVL team are not confident of any further offer being made. We know you will be disappointed by this news; however, both parties are doing what they feel is right in the prevailing situation. We are though committed to reaching an agreement. To this end, further discussions will be held to see if this is possible and of course your pay rise would be backdated to 1 January 2020.

Both parties would like to thank you for your patience in this matter and reassure you that we wish to establish an agreement that you would support as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Paul Johnston                                                         Andy Furey
Partnership Director                                             Assistant Secretary
Capita TVL                                                              CWU

As referenced in the Joint Statement, the current offer still falls short of our aspirations as it fails to address a number of the key components of our pay claim which are as follows:

• Improvements to the employers’ pension contribution rates

• A one hour reduction in the 37.5 hour net working week

• 3% minimum pay increase for those members who, on moving up to the Real Living Wage, would receive a pay rise of less than 3%

• 3% minimum pay increase for all members whose basic hourly pay rate is greater than the Real Living Wage

• The introduction of the Real Living Wage hourly pay rate of £9.30 from 1st January 2020 rather than 1st April 2020

• Capita TVL commits to automatically introducing further increases in the Real Living Wage each year to take account of the Living Wage Foundation’s recommendation.

For ease of reference LTB 016/20 which expands upon the above key components is attached.

Further developments will be reported following our additional discussions with management which are in the process of being scheduled. We are also in the process of arranging a meeting with our Capita Reps on the TVL contract as membership engagement going forward is critical.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Furey
Assistant Secretary

Attachment 1: LTB 464/20 – Capita TVL – Formal Pay Offer Rejected

Attachment 2: LTB 016/20 Capita TVL – Formal Pay Claim 1st January 2020

Save on life’s essentials with CWU Member Benefits

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All members of CWU are entitled to a complimentary initial consultation with one of Lighthouse Financial Advice’s professional financial advisers to see whether you could benefit from financial advice specific to you. 

Following the initial consultation, if you wish to appoint Lighthouse Financial Advice as your financial adviser they will explain and agree any charges with you before undertaking any work on your behalf.

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Lighthouse Financial Advice Limited is an appointed representative of Lighthouse Advisory Services Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Lighthouse Financial Advice Limited and Lighthouse Advisory Services Limited are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Lighthouse Group plc, which is part of the Quilter Group of companies. Registered address: 26 Throgmorton Street, London EC2N 2AN. Registered in England No. 4795080.

For details of how we use your personal information please read our privacy policy at www.lighthousegroup.plc.uk/privacy-policy

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Formation of the CWU United Tech and Allied Workers (UTAW) National Branch

Formation of the CWU United Tech and Allied Workers (UTAW) National Branch

The purpose of this LTB is to inform branches of the formation of the new United Tech and Allied Workers (UTAW) branch of the Communication Workers’ Union, which seeks to represent and fight for workers interests in the expanding tech sector.

The CWU was approached by the London Branch of a group called the Tech Workers Coalition (TWC) earlier in the year with a request to discuss the feasibility of them joining the CWU. It is indicative of our high standing in the trade union movement and our innovative communications approach, that the TWC specifically approached the CWU as the union they wanted to join and work with to recruit and organise in the sector.

During initial conversations, the TWC outlined the background of their organisation, provided details on their current working environment, highlighted the issues that come with working in a sector where little to no union recognition currently exists, and made the case for why they wish to join as a standalone National Branch within the CWU.

Following subsequent work from the Recruitment & Organising Department – within which the feasibility, practicalities and potential of a new tech workers national branch have been explored and outlined – the CWU National Executive Committee approved the formation of the new branch.

The CWU has for some time been a viable option for workers in the tech industry looking to unionise, and already has members in the sector.

The formation of this new branch seeks to expand our existing membership in the sector and provide existing and potential members a place within which to organise and collectivise to support and empower one another as we fight against exploitative business practices in the industry and for the improvement of every member’s working conditions.

UTAW represents all tech workers: if you know someone who develops or deploys technology; if you have a family member whose workplace is owned by a tech company; if you have a friend whose labour is a necessary part of a tech companies’ operation; and if they are not currently a member of a trade union but would like to be – please encourage them to join us.

Any enquiries on the above LTB should be addressed to the Recruitment & Organising Department at rodept@cwu.org.

Yours sincerely,

Ray Ellis                                                       Dave Ward
Head of Recruitment and Organising   General Secretary

LTB 461/20 – Formation of the CWU United Tech and Allied Workers (UTAW) National Branch

JOINT STATEMENT – PAY AND SHORTER WORKING WEEK

JOINT STATEMENT – PAY AND SHORTER WORKING WEEK

Last week the National Postal Officers seized the first opportunity to call together Senior Field Officials and Postal Executive members in a carefully planned legally compliant face-to-face briefing to update them on the national negotiations, whilst also attempting to progress the Joint Statement signed with the employer at the start of July 2020.

The information exchanged at our meeting in Liverpool with our leaders in the field should by now have filtered down through our field structure via Area/Local Representatives and Branch meetings.

However since our briefing and after Royal Mail Group’s presentation on their financial results and the publicity surrounding it, we have been inundated with questions and requests for more information which can be used in the field to brief members.  This LTB is therefore designed to help Branches and Representatives close any knowledge gap that may exist with members and assist colleagues in dealing with enquires.

Joint Statement

The Joint Statement was signed by the CWU and RMG at the start of July 2020 and published in LTB 352/20.

The Joint Statement represents a logical flightpath of progress and seeks to deal with all of the significant issues and challenges faced.

The talks have been conducted in a reasonable manner with both parties trying hard to repair relationships whilst under considerable pressure to deliver and deal with the day to day operation under COVID-19 arrangements.

Timeline and Scope of Talks 

This section of the Joint Statement (copy attached) defines the logical sequence of events whilst also discussing issues requiring agreement.  The five sections of progress were defined as follows:

  1. To discuss the financial position of the company.

Clearly there has been much publicity about this and despite the continuing challenges of COVID-19 costs, the situation is improving and the CWU is convinced that Royal Mail Group with the right ambition and growth plan can build on this difficult time and still emerge as the most trusted doorstep connector in this country and the only provider that guarantees delivery to every address in the country with total equality.

  1. To agree (in accordance with the second bullet point under the heading ‘Rebuilding Trust’) a deployment plan for the local revision and deployment of change activity required to address the immediate operational and financial challenges facing the UK business. 

This section dealt with how we address the 600 plus local disagreements hanging over from our dispute and the imminent threat at that time of managerial executive action.  It acknowledged that there was a need for light touch revisions in all units to re-align operations to improve operational arrangements and adjust to the challenge of the COVID-19 impact.  There has been positive progress on what this should look like and we have also made significant progress on machine moves and trials with final sign off on negotiator agreements imminent.

Trials: In respect of trials we have been discussing the issues of ‘Automated Hours Data Capture’, ‘Resource Scheduler’, Dedicated Parcel Van Delivery Duties’, ‘2 Bundle Delivery Approach on D2D products’.

Resource Scheduler has already been the subject of an agreed joint trial which management ceased because it did not work.  The business now claim that they have modified it and believe it will now work.  They have agreed to give the Union (and those involved with the original joint trial) a full presentation on the changes made which have now given confidence that the system can work.  Once confidence is restored a further trial is warranted, the original terms of reference will hold the field and an agreed joint trial will be moved forward.

Automated Hours Data Capture (AHDC) was described by the Royal Mail Group AGM 2020 Trading Statement as:

‘dispensing with old, outdated ways of working such as handwritten sign in sheets, moving to automated clock-in, clock-out systems as used by other businesses for decades’

Statements like that give the impression that we have not embraced new technology, that we are a prehistoric organisation stuck in the past.  We take exception to that.  We already have a number of our sites that use such systems, our letter operation is fully automated, our parcel and delivery people are armed with new technology which enables doorstep transactions and timed deliveries.  Our CWU position is clear – new technology provides the opportunity for new products and services and diversification and growth but we will not agree to its use to de–humanise the workplace, bring continuous pressure on individuals or remove the role of the Union in protecting people in the workplace.  To be clear the latest draft on management’s desired usage of AHDC is far from the simplistic statement made by the RMG board in respect of clocking in and out.  Verbally in the talks management had agreed with the CWU negotiators that new technology would not be used to;

Track people, stop pay, for disciplinary purposes or to remove the Union’s role in the workplace regarding manpower planning, work organisation etc.

However, management’s latest draft proposal does indeed track people around the workplace and builds up individual data on all individual employees in all workplaces, a far cry from the simple clock-in and out description that the board chose to use to ridicule our current operations.

We continue negotiations on these issues.

Dedicated Parcel Delivery Trials

We are negotiating a terms of reference for the trial which seeks to represent the need for dedicated parcel deliveries for format 3 & 4 parcels and later parcel deliveries associated with our LAT products.  As you will be aware RMG were proposing in our dispute to only have such operations from 300 delivery offices but we are seeking a trial agreement that enable solutions for such parcels across all our offices and also ensures that as much as possible is delivered on our core letter & parcel deliveries as that is the most efficient and effective arrangement.

Post Box Strategy

As part of the national discussions words were agreed in relation to an ongoing review of the Post Box estate.  However, while that document on “light touch” change has been sitting in abeyance out with the formal national talks, the company has presented an alternative strategy which would significantly change the current agreed approach.

Royal Mail Group have tabled proposals which significantly increase the number of pillar boxes to be collected from, by our members onto delivery.  The plan outlined to the Union is for circa 15,000 boxes only to remain as post 4pm.  These boxes will be largely POL outlets, business users parcel posting boxes, railway stations, main supermarkets and airports.  Royal Mail Group say that the reason for this is due to accelerated posted letter decline.

Two Bundle D2D “warm call” Trial

Royal Mail Group wish to carry out a trial in 3 delivery units which will include delivering from separate sequenced & manual bundles of mail on a Monday & Saturday whilst throwing in or prepping up all D2D items into the preparation frame on a Tuesday and warm call the D2D items with all prepped combined mail from Tuesday – Friday.  The objective of the trial from Royal Mail Group’s perspective is to improve efficiency whilst also enhancing quality on the D2D product.  We are currently in discussions with Royal Mail Group on developing the trial and agreeing a terms of reference for this as well as including within this approach discussion on a future automation strategy for D2D whilst also growing the product.

Machine Moves

A draft document has been concluded on a clear process for the review of the Letter Automation Estate covering CSS, IMP, iLSM and CFC machines both at National level and on a Mail Centre Catchment Area (MCCA) basis.  At National level, it has been agreed a new National Automation Group will be created.  This Group will have initial oversight of the plan which will be reviewed on a 3-monthly basis.  This plan will determine the phased activity in each MCCA.

In reviewing local proposals, all functions affected by the potential machine removal or change are fully represented at the negotiating table through the creation of Local Joint Working Groups (LJWG).  We believe that the document will be of assistance to our representatives across all functions in dealing with what is likely to be a significant program of machine removals.

  1. To agree a pay settlement for April 2020. 

Our 2020 pay award is a standalone pay claim and separate from our 2019 dispute.  The General Secretary and I negotiated this section of the logical process because without resolving the 2019 dispute and specifically the 2nd hour of the Shorter Working Week, there would have to be a simple no strings pay award which not only rewarded our members for their work over the past year but also their magnificent and continuing effort during the pandemic.  We argued that the light touch revision activity moving on with trials and other operational change would not be positively embraced unless it reflected and coincided with a mutual interest approach and settling our 2020 pay claim clearly provided that opportunity, hence its positioning at number three in the Joint Statement.

RMG have, or are attempting to break the spirit, intent and logical sequence of the Joint Statement by now seeking a longer-term pay award once everything in this Joint Statement is agreed.  This complicates these negotiations and I repeat breaks the logical sequence of events originally envisaged.

Royal Mail Group have now suggested a framework for a 3 year pay award which not only breaks the original construct of the Joint Statement by holding the April 2020 pay award back until all 1 to 5 items are concluded but also offers the potential for no actual pay increase for April 2020.

Royal Mail Group state that it is not a formal offer, so we assume it’s the starting point for negotiations.  However, whilst we cannot give you the detail of that informal summary, we can tell you that it starts from a very low base which would be totally unacceptable to the CWU and does not reflect your amazing efforts as key workers and is at odds with the value that our nation puts on postal workers.

Negotiations continue.

  1. To agree a resolution to our dispute, operational change and the future strategy of the RMG, including Parcelforce. This will include short, medium and long term operational changes and the use and deployment of technology.
  1. To develop a mutual interest’s strategy for the future, the Royal Mail and CWU will now also explore the potential to better utilise the company’s unrivalled infrastructure, including the following: – 
  • Developing a joint strategy to maintain the USO as part of the social fabric of the UK, including exploring the potential for new USO products to support its long-term economic sustainability. 
  • Exploring opportunities to minimise letter traffic decline. 
  • Developing opportunities for diversification by focusing on an expanded and wider role for Royal Mail employees in supporting local communities, local and regional business growth and measures to assist the recovery of the UK economy. 
  • Exploring how Royal Mail and its employees can play a significant role in supporting environmental change and the development of a green new deal in the UK. 

The Joint Statement anticipated items 4 & 5 may require negotiations to take longer than items 1 to 3 with the follow words agreed by both parties;

‘All areas will be progressed with a view of reaching agreement by the end of July, with potential for extension in points 4 & 5 above’.

Items illustrated under 4 and 5 of this section of the Joint Statement are still being discussed and negotiations continue.

Resolution to our dispute still needs to be concluded and in particular how we honour the Four Pillars Agreement (recommitted to in the Joint Statement).

Productivity

An agreed measure of Productivity is an issue included in our dispute and an outstanding issue from the Four Pillars Agreement.  We have now agreed a terms of reference for a joint working group with industrial engineering expertise from both RMG and the Union to look at productivity not just from a 100 BSI perspective but what enables good productivity i.e. work environment, tools, training, different building designs, culture, location and geography etc.

Those discussions will now commence imminently.

New Operational Pipeline

 To be clear we are in negotiations regarding how new parcel sort centres will work, rather than opposing them.  We understand that the growth in parcels and online activity is growing faster than ever and we have to have more capacity and the automation to meet that demand.

On a positive note we have sought assurances on no compulsory redundancies, no mail centre, delivery and RDC closures consequently and have received a positive response which will be part of any overall agreement.

Parcelforce

Whilst the defeat of the TUPE proposal was a significant achievement, recent presentations on the future Pipeline and Parcel Strategy including in Liverpool have given a distinct impression that the strategy was constructed on the basis that Parcelforce would no longer have been an integral part of the business.   We have made representations that RMG need to bring renewed focus on the future of Parcelforce and have received commitments from the company that RMG remain committed to growing a successful Parcelforce business.

6 Day USO

Following on from the RMG AGM there was much speculation in the media regarding the future of the 6 day USO.  The Regulator (Ofcom) is carrying out a review, the timescales of which are as follows:

  • Ofcom will release a ‘User Needs Review’ based on a consultation they carried out; this is expected around November 2020.
  • Ofcom will carry out a consultation on all aspects of the Regulatory Framework (i.e. not just the USO) this is anticipated to be early 2021.
  • If any legislation change is required, it is anticipated that this will take place late in 2021.
  • Any change would then potentially be introduced in April 2022 subject to receiving parliamentary assent.

To be clear, the CWU policy and the commitments contained in our Four Pillars Agreement is to protect and promote the 6 day USO.  Equally, whilst the Regulator and the Government may recommend changes to the Regulatory Framework and the USO, it has to be cleared through parliament.

I trust that this LTB has provided colleagues with a brief update on where the National Postal Officers and RMG are currently in the talks as well as an insight into how complex these negotiations are.

 We will be back in negotiations again today and further updates will follow.

It is essential that our members are briefed on the contents of this LTB and further updates will be issued in due course via our various communications channels and social media forums.

In closing, to be absolutely clear, no roll out of revision activity, trials or machine moves has been agreed at this stage.

Any enquiries in relation to the content of this LTB should be addressed to the DGS(P) Department.

Yours sincerely,

Terry Pullinger

Deputy General Secretary (Postal)                                     

LTB 459/20 – JOINT STATEMENT – PAY AND SHORTER WORKING WEEK

Joint Statement between RMG and CWU

JOINT STATEMENT – PAY AND SHORTER WORKING WEEK

JOINT STATEMENT – PAY AND SHORTER WORKING WEEK

Last week the National Postal Officers seized the first opportunity to call together Senior Field Officials and Postal Executive members in a carefully planned legally compliant face-to-face briefing to update them on the national negotiations, whilst also attempting to progress the Joint Statement signed with the employer at the start of July 2020.

The information exchanged at our meeting in Liverpool with our leaders in the field should by now have filtered down through our field structure via Area/Local Representatives and Branch meetings.

However since our briefing and after Royal Mail Group’s presentation on their financial results and the publicity surrounding it, we have been inundated with questions and requests for more information which can be used in the field to brief members. This LTB is therefore designed to help Branches and Representatives close any knowledge gap that may exist with members and assist colleagues in dealing with enquires.

Joint Statement

The Joint Statement was signed by the CWU and RMG at the start of July 2020 and published in LTB 352/20.

The Joint Statement represents a logical flightpath of progress and seeks to deal with all of the significant issues and challenges faced.

The talks have been conducted in a reasonable manner with both parties trying hard to repair relationships whilst under considerable pressure to deliver and deal with the day to day operation under COVID-19 arrangements.

Timeline and Scope of Talks

This section of the Joint Statement (copy attached) defines the logical sequence of events whilst also discussing issues requiring agreement. The five sections of progress were defined as follows:

  1. To discuss the financial position of the company.
    Clearly there has been much publicity about this and despite the continuing challenges of COVID-19 costs, the situation is improving and the CWU is convinced that Royal Mail Group with the right ambition and growth plan can build on this difficult time and still emerge as the most trusted doorstep connector in this country and the only provider that guarantees delivery to every address in the country with total equality.
  2. To agree (in accordance with the second bullet point under the heading ‘Rebuilding Trust’) a deployment plan for the local revision and deployment of change activity required to address the immediate operational and financial challenges facing the UK business.

This section dealt with how we address the 600 plus local disagreements hanging over from our dispute and the imminent threat at that time of managerial executive action. It acknowledged that there was a need for light touch revisions in all units to re-align operations to improve operational arrangements and adjust to the challenge of the COVID-19 impact. There has been positive progress on what this should look like and we have also made significant progress on machine moves and trials with final sign off on negotiator agreements imminent.

Trials: In respect of trials we have been discussing the issues of ‘Automated Hours Data Capture’, ‘Resource Scheduler’, Dedicated Parcel Van Delivery Duties’, ‘2 Bundle Delivery Approach on D2D products’.

Resource Scheduler has already been the subject of an agreed joint trial which management ceased because it did not work. The business now claim that they have modified it and believe it will now work. They have agreed to give the Union (and those involved with the original joint trial) a full presentation on the changes made which have now given confidence that the system can work. Once confidence is restored a further trial is warranted, the original terms of reference will hold the field and an agreed joint trial will be moved forward.

Automated Hours Data Capture (AHDC) was described by the Royal Mail Group AGM 2020 Trading Statement as:
‘dispensing with old, outdated ways of working such as handwritten sign in sheets, moving to automated clock-in, clock-out systems as used by other businesses for decades’
Statements like that give the impression that we have not embraced new technology, that we are a prehistoric organisation stuck in the past. We take exception to that. We already have a number of our sites that use such systems, our letter operation is fully automated, our parcel and delivery people are armed with new technology which enables doorstep transactions and timed deliveries. Our CWU position is clear – new technology provides the opportunity for new products and services and diversification and growth but we will not agree to its use to de-humanise the workplace, bring continuous pressure on individuals or remove the role of the Union in protecting people in the workplace. To be clear the latest draft on management’s desired usage of AHDC is far from the simplistic statement made by the RMG board in respect of clocking in and out. Verbally in the talks management had agreed with the CWU negotiators that new technology would not be used to;

Track people, stop pay, for disciplinary purposes or to remove the Union’s role in the workplace regarding manpower planning, work organisation etc.

However, management’s latest draft proposal does indeed track people around the workplace and builds up individual data on all individual employees in all workplaces, a far cry from the simple clock-in and out description that the board chose to use to ridicule our current operations.

We continue negotiations on these issues.

Dedicated Parcel Delivery Trials

We are negotiating a terms of reference for the trial which seeks to represent the need for dedicated parcel deliveries for format 3 & 4 parcels and later parcel deliveries associated with our LAT products. As you will be aware RMG were proposing in our dispute to only have such operations from 300 delivery offices but we are seeking a trial agreement that enable solutions for such parcels across all our offices and also ensures that as much as possible is delivered on our core letter & parcel deliveries as that is the most efficient and effective arrangement.

Post Box

As part of the national discussions words were agreed in relation to an ongoing review of the Post Box estate. However, while that document on “light touch” change has been sitting in abeyance out with the formal national talks, the company has presented an alternative strategy which would significantly change the current agreed approach.

Royal Mail Group have tabled proposals which significantly increase the number of pillar boxes to be collected from, by our members onto delivery. The plan outlined to the Union is for circa 15,000 boxes only to remain as post 4pm. These boxes will be largely POL outlets, business users parcel posting boxes, railway stations, main supermarkets and airports. Royal Mail Group say that the reason for this is due to accelerated posted letter decline.

Two Bundle D2D “warm call” Trial

Royal Mail Group wish to carry out a trial in 3 delivery units which will include delivering from separate sequenced & manual bundles of mail on a Monday & Saturday whilst throwing in or prepping up all D2D items into the preparation frame on a Tuesday and warm call the D2D items with all prepped combined mail from Tuesday – Friday. The objective of the trial from Royal Mail Group’s perspective is to improve efficiency whilst also enhancing quality on the D2D product. We are currently in discussions with Royal Mail Group on developing the trial and agreeing a terms of reference for this as well as including within this approach discussion on a future automation strategy for D2D whilst also growing the product.

Machine Moves

A draft document has been concluded on a clear process for the review of the Letter Automation Estate covering CSS, IMP, iLSM and CFC machines both at National level and on a Mail Centre Catchment Area (MCCA) basis. At National level, it has been agreed a new National Automation Group will be created. This Group will have initial oversight of the plan which will be reviewed on a 3-monthly basis. This plan will determine the phased activity in each MCCA.

In reviewing local proposals, all functions affected by the potential machine removal or change are fully represented at the negotiating table through the creation of Local Joint Working Groups (LJWG). We believe that the document will be of assistance to our representatives across all functions in dealing with what is likely to be a significant program of machine removals.

  1. To agree a pay settlement for April 2020.

Our 2020 pay award is a standalone pay claim and separate from our 2019 dispute. The General Secretary and I negotiated this section of the logical process because without resolving the 2019 dispute and specifically the 2nd hour of the Shorter Working Week, there would have to be a simple no strings pay award which not only rewarded our members for their work over the past year but also their magnificent and continuing effort during the pandemic. We argued that the light touch revision activity moving on with trials and other operational change would not be positively embraced unless it reflected and coincided with a mutual interest approach and settling our 2020 pay claim clearly provided that opportunity, hence its positioning at number three in the Joint Statement.

RMG have, or are attempting to break the spirit, intent and logical sequence of the Joint Statement by now seeking a longer-term pay award once everything in this Joint Statement is agreed. This complicates these negotiations and I repeat breaks the logical sequence of events originally envisaged.
Royal Mail Group have now suggested a framework for a 3 year pay award which not only breaks the original construct of the Joint Statement by holding the April 2020 pay award back until all 1 to 5 items are concluded but also offers the potential for no actual pay increase for April 2020.

Royal Mail Group state that it is not a formal offer, so we assume it’s the starting point for negotiations. However, whilst we cannot give you the detail of that informal summary, we can tell you that it starts from a very low base which would be totally unacceptable to the CWU and does not reflect your amazing efforts as key workers and is at odds with the value that our nation puts on postal workers.

Negotiations continue.

  1. To agree a resolution to our dispute, operational change and the future strategy of the RMG, including Parcelforce. This will include short, medium and long term operational changes and the use and deployment of technology.
  2. To develop a mutual interest’s strategy for the future, the Royal Mail and CWU will now also explore the potential to better utilise the company’s unrivalled infrastructure, including the following: –

• Developing a joint strategy to maintain the USO as part of the social fabric of the UK, including exploring the potential for new USO products to support its long-term economic sustainability.
• Exploring opportunities to minimise letter traffic decline.
• Developing opportunities for diversification by focusing on an expanded and wider role for Royal Mail employees in supporting local communities, local and regional business growth and measures to assist the recovery of the UK economy.
• Exploring how Royal Mail and its employees can play a significant role in supporting environmental change and the development of a green new deal in the UK.

The Joint Statement anticipated items 4 & 5 may require negotiations to take longer than items 1 to 3 with the follow words agreed by both parties;

‘All areas will be progressed with a view of reaching agreement by the end of July, with potential for extension in points 4 & 5 above’.

Items illustrated under 4 and 5 of this section of the Joint Statement are still being discussed and negotiations continue.
Resolution to our dispute still needs to be concluded and in particular how we honour the Four Pillars Agreement (recommitted to in the Joint Statement).

Productivity

An agreed measure of Productivity is an issue included in our dispute and an outstanding issue from the Four Pillars Agreement. We have now agreed a terms of reference for a joint working group with industrial engineering expertise from both RMG and the Union to look at productivity not just from a 100 BSI perspective but what enables good productivity i.e. work environment, tools, training, different building designs, culture, location and geography etc.

Those discussions will now commence imminently.

New Operational Pipeline

To be clear we are in negotiations regarding how new parcel sort centres will work, rather than opposing them. We understand that the growth in parcels and online activity is growing faster than ever and we have to have more capacity and the automation to meet that demand.

On a positive note we have sought assurances on no compulsory redundancies, no mail centre, delivery and RDC closures consequently and have received a positive response which will be part of any overall agreement.

Parcelforce

Whilst the defeat of the TUPE proposal was a significant achievement, recent presentations on the future Pipeline and Parcel Strategy including in Liverpool have given a distinct impression that the strategy was constructed on the basis that Parcelforce would no longer have been an integral part of the business. We have made representations that RMG need to bring renewed focus on the future of Parcelforce and have received commitments from the company that RMG remain committed to growing a successful Parcelforce business.

6 Day USO

Following on from the RMG AGM there was much speculation in the media regarding the future of the 6 day USO. The Regulator (Ofcom) is carrying out a review, the timescales of which are as follows:

➢ Ofcom will release a ‘User Needs Review’ based on a consultation they carried out; this is expected around November 2020.
➢ Ofcom will carry out a consultation on all aspects of the Regulatory Framework (i.e. not just the USO) this is anticipated to be early 2021.
➢ If any legislation change is required, it is anticipated that this will take place late in 2021.
➢ Any change would then potentially be introduced in April 2022 subject to receiving parliamentary assent.

To be clear, the CWU policy and the commitments contained in our Four Pillars Agreement is to protect and promote the 6 day USO. Equally, whilst the Regulator and the Government may recommend changes to the Regulatory Framework and the USO, it has to be cleared through parliament.

I trust that this LTB has provided colleagues with a brief update on where the National Postal Officers and RMG are currently in the talks as well as an insight into how complex these negotiations are.

We will be back in negotiations again today and further updates will follow.

It is essential that our members are briefed on the contents of this LTB and further updates will be issued in due course via our various communications channels and social media forums.
In closing, to be absolutely clear, no roll out of revision activity, trials or machine moves has been agreed at this stage.

Terry Pullinger
Deputy General Secretary (Postal)

Royal Mail Review of Future Catering Provision

Royal Mail Review of Future Catering Provision

Further to LTB’s 427/20 and 441/20 Branches and representatives are informed that in parallel with the formal TUPE consultation activity with Quadrant/Compass Group, the department has also been in discussions with Royal Mail Group in respect of how any material adverse effects for our Quadrant members can be addressed as a result of their decision to dissolve the catering Joint Venture.

In this regard the department has had serious concern around the impacts on pension entitlements for those long standing Quadrant employees who have remained in the Royal Mail Pension Schemes, as this is not considered “in scope’ with regard to TUPE Regulations.

Historically at the time of the creation of the Catering Joint Venture in 1998 an arrangement was agreed on an exceptional basis, which enabled those employees who were subject to TUPE from Royal Mail (then the Post Office) to Granada and latterly Compass to continue in the RMPP.

The current RM Pension Plan rules however will not permit their continued membership in the scheme at the point of TUPE and at the point of transfer they will become deferred members of the RM Pension Plan. The department has therefore been keen to ensure that any impact on their pensions is mitigated as much as possible.

At the point of the TUPE transfer on the 1st October 2020 these employees (30 CWU Graded individuals) will be auto enrolled in the Compass Group Pension Scheme ‘CRISP’. Under the Compass Pension Scheme the employer will match the contribution rate paid by the employee up to 6%. This falls below the employer contribution rate that is paid in the Royal Mail Pension Scheme and as such it has been recognised this will have a detrimental impact on these particular individuals. Following extensive discussions RMG have therefore agreed that they will top up the Compass employer contribution rate by 7%. This means for those employees who pay the maximum employee contribution rate of 6% the employer contributions will be 13% instead of 6%.

It should be noted that this arrangement is applicable only to those individuals who are currently members of the RM Pension Scheme. However should the affected individuals choose to opt out of the Compass Pension Scheme ‘CRISP’ they will then be auto enrolled in the Government Nest Scheme and the RMG top up will not be applied. Employees who are currently aligned to Compass Pension arrangements will continue to benefit from existing arrangements and the transfer will not require

a change of scheme or change to the level of benefits. Employees in the NEST Government Scheme will continue as normal and this will be governed by Government legislation.

While the 13% does not quite match the RMPP contribution level anticipated when the new RM Pension plan is introduced (13.6%), the department believes that it does go a long way to mitigating the impact on the individuals affected by the dissolution of the Joint Venture and is the best position which could be reached through negotiation, which has been endorsed by the Postal Executive.

Royal Mail have however indicated that their position is that uprating of employer contributions would be for a period of 2 years. The CWU’s aspiration is that the uprating should be applied for a longer term and/or with a review and as such we have made strong representation in this regard. The issue will be subject to further discussion with the business and Branches and representatives will be updated as soon as further information is available.

RMG have also provided the following information in respect of those individuals who are currently in the Royal Mail Pension Plan:

Members will automatically be written to by PSC around 4 to 6 weeks after leaving service to advise them of preserved pension benefits. If they want to contact the administrator before then, they should contact the Pensions Helpline on 0345 603 0043. The only exceptions are: 

 If they are over 60 at LDOS, NRA 60 benefits (earned up to 31.3.2010) will come into payment automatically from that date; and 

 If they are over 65 at LDOS, NRA 65 benefits (earned after 1.4.2010) will come into payment from that date (together with NRA 60 benefits if not in payment already). 

Members aged 55 or over can put benefits into payment on a reduced basis. If they want to apply, they should contact the Pensions Helpline. 

All other Quadrant employees currently aligned to the Compass Group Pension Scheme will continue to receive the 6% employer contributions from Compass Group.

In addition to the above the department has also been seeking to ascertain with RMG whether the opportunity would exist for Quadrant members to transfer into a RM role. This has proved difficult as RMG advised that due to time available the ability for them to process any applications would in all likelihood exceed the 1st October TUPE transfer date. As part of the TUPE consultation, Quadrant have made employees aware of the opportunity to transfer and the department has been actively assisting members in exploring transfer opportunities in Royal Mail where an interest has been expressed. Royal Mail have agreed that should any Quadrant employee apply for a vacancy in Royal Mail by 25th September 2020 with a start date on or before 23rd October 2020, on an exceptional basis they will be able to maintain their continuity of service. It should be noted that all other terms and conditions would be based on those of a new starter in RMG.

Colleagues will also be aware our Quadrant members also received the allocation of Christmas Stamps enjoyed by their Royal Mail colleagues and we had requested that this benefit was continued by Royal Mail. While Royal Mail have indicated that they are unwilling to continue to fund this benefit on an ongoing basis, they have agreed that they will issue stamps to all current transferring Quadrant employees for this year only in recognition of the contribution they have made during the Covid crisis. Eligibility to receive the stamps will be that Quadrant employees who have transferred to Compass Group must be in post when the stamps are issued. This benefit will not be extended to any new employees recruited by Compass Group for the Royal Mail contract after the date of transfer.

The protracted contract negotiations between RMG and Compass Group have resulted in the department having to deal with the TUPE consultation process and associated representations to RMG in what has been an extremely tight timeline. We do believe however that to date we have managed to mitigate as

much as possible the material impact to our Quadrant members and provide some assurance around their future employment.

Any enquiries in relation to this LTB should be addressed to Davie Robertson, Assistant Secretary, email: dwyatt@cwu.org quoting reference: 311.02

Yours sincerely

Davie Robertson 

Assistant Secretary

20LTB458

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