ROYAL MAIL: PATHWAY TO CHANGE AGREEMENT: DELIVERING THE SHORTER WORKING WEEK IN MDEC
The backdrop to the Pathway to Change negotiations for MDEC has been difficult due to further declines in volumes, coupled with automation improvements, which has effectively left the three MDEC units over-resourced overall. MDEC’s workload has dropped to 5m tasks per week and as a result of enhancements to the current parcel/letter sorting technology and increased customer barcoding is expected to fall by a further 40% over the next 3 months to around 3m tasks per week.
Negotiations started in January with MDEC management with regards to delivering the Shorter Working Week. An agreement has now been reached and was endorsed by the Postal Executive at a meeting on Tuesday 30th March. An agreed Joint Statement and Joint Briefing note (attached) have been published today and our MDEC Representatives were updated via a meeting this morning. We also provided an embargoed copy of the Joint Statement and briefing note to our Reps earlier today.
The following are the key headlines of the agreement reached:
Closure of Farnworth & Stoke MDEC Units
Unfortunately we have had to agree to the closure of the Farnworth and Stoke MDEC units. Clearly this is a challenging situation; however we cannot shy away from the fact there has been an overall decline in volumes and improvements in automation. It is for these reasons we have the MTSF agreement in place, which is designed to safeguard employment for our members. In this regard, these closures will be conducted in line with MTSF principles and the emphasis will be on finding suitable redeployment opportunities for all those who wish to retain employment with Royal Mail.
- Voluntary Redundancy will be offered by the end of August for all members wishing to avail themselves of this option. This timeframe will include notice periods. It should be noted that for Farnworth this is 20 full-time and 25 part-time jobs and for Stoke there are 28 part-timers and no full-timers.
- For members wishing to retain employment, we have agreed that the redeployment and bumping activities will continue for the rest of the year, with the units closing by 1st January 2022. If everyone can be found reasonable redeployment opportunities before this, the units will close earlier. This means our members will have every opportunity to find alternative work within Royal Mail and we are optimistic that there are relatively good opportunities for this to happen.
- To inform this activity, an agreed Preference Exercise is planned as follows:
- Forms despatched Tuesday 6th April with a return date of Friday 23rd April
Branches are advised the closure of the Farnworth and Stoke MDEC units does not directly impact upon either the Finance or Customer Experience (CE) units at these locations. In this regard, the attached Joint Statement, which provides reassurance to Finance and CE members, has been agreed. There will however be the potential for bumping opportunities within Finance and CE for MDEC members, depending on the outcome of the preference exercise. Further discussions will take place with management following the closure date of 23rdApril when all preferences can be taken fully into consideration and wider preferencing undertaken as appropriate.
In accordance with the Pathway to Change Agreement we have agreed that for MDEC the SWW will be implemented from Monday 1st May and the deployment of this will be undertaken via local discussions to determine how best to reduce the hour. This position only applies to Farnworth & Plymouth as Stoke do not have any full-time employees. Our part-time members will though benefit by the automatic increase in the hourly pay rate.
Bonus Consolidation – £60 per month (Pro-rata for part-timers)
Another area where we have been able to make good progress as part of the overall package relates to bonus consolidation. We have managed to consolidate £60 per month into basic pay with a suitable adjustment in the bonus scheme. This means, an MDEC keyer earning £20,308 from 1st April 2021 (inclusive of the 1% pay rise) will receive £720 p.a. extra in their basic pay from the consolidation of £60 per month, taking their salary to £21,028, an increase of 3.5% over and above this year’s pay rise. The consolidation of these bonus monies will trap the money into base pay and it will become pensionable and in turn will improve hourly pay rates, which means both full-time and part-time members gain by this initiative.
The consolidation is linked to the implementation of the Plymouth revision which we have agreed will happen by June/July subject to local negotiations. Crucially at this point the consolidation will be backdated to 1st April and will benefit those leaving on VR as this will make for a better compensation package.
New Bonus Arrangements
We have also agreed a new higher bonus tier with an extra £20 per month for those hitting the top end of the performance banding. The effectiveness of the new bonus measures and targets will be jointly reviewed at regular intervals to ensure it is working as designed with agreed modifications made as appropriate following joint analysis.
Whilst the closure of Units is never good news and we recognise it will be difficult for many of our members, our MDEC members will be acutely aware of declining volumes and the automation plans. Therefore I imagine the closure announcements won’t come as a surprise but members will obviously be disappointed. Our aim is to ensure that no stone is left unturned in finding suitable redeployment opportunities for all members wishing to be redeployed. We have ample time to make this happen and we will be working jointly with management in this regard.
In terms of the benefits to members, this agreement delivers both the SWW and a £60 consolidation together with an improved top banding of £20 per month extra as part of an enhanced bonus scheme.
In closing, I would like to place on record my thanks to Andy Hopping and David Wilshire, PE Members, who have provided support and guidance in these negotiations. I also wish to thank our Representatives for the professional and dignified manner in which they dealt with this situation when hearing the news of these closures earlier today. We will obviously continue to engage with the Reps going forward with the clear aim of ensuring this exercise is conducted fully in line with the MTSF agreement.