FUTURE OF CATERING
Branches are informed that that the department has been in discussion with Royal Mail since Autumn 2021 in relation to their vision of what catering within Royal Mail Group will look like in the future.
You will be aware that many assurances were given in relation to Royal Mail’s commitment to subsidised catering at the time of the Dissolution of the Quadrant Joint Venture in September 2020. However, it has become evident that in the period since the dissolution of the Joint Venture the commercial reality driven by the Covid pandemic has fundamentally reset the bar with regard to canteen usage. During the period where social distancing measures were in place across workplaces, there were huge restrictions on the level of service that could be offered and reduced numbers in workplaces resulted in a significant decline in footfall. Unfortunately, as restrictions have been reduced or removed, catering performance has not returned to pre-Covid levels.
To some degree, this may be down to the fact that our members were forced to find alternative catering outlets during the Covid period and that these have now become the norm. In addition, some sites changing working practices, i.e. home working arrangements for some Royal Mail employees, has also had a huge impact.
Given the above, it quickly became apparent that the business was focussing on a further review of the level of service provision at a number of sites. Through discussions, it was clear that the focus and scope of this review was more far-reaching than in previous reviews, where the focus had been solely on Delivery-based breakfast bars and that the intention for this review was to analyse all current catered units, including Mail Centre canteens.
Therefore, the basis on which the department entered these discussions was that we would not be agreeing to service reduction or site closures centrally and that any proposals that the business wished to formally submit at the end of the process would be progressed through the IR Framework. The CWU has maintained throughout discussions that we would not accept a generic approach to the reduction of service and would want the opportunity to work through and fully consider each separate proposal on the respective merits.
While maintaining the above principle with regard to proposals made by Royal Mail, we believed that it would be prudent to engage with them in order to ensure that a process is in place for the consultation activity they will be undertaking.
The department have therefore held several meetings over recent months reviewing the Royal Mail proposals and have worked through all the data per unit to further understand the impact of any proposed change and what this would mean for our members, both in Eurest and Royal Mail. This process has proved beneficial and the department has had some success in amending the original Royal Mail plan.
On 9th May 2022, Royal Mail formally notified Eurest / Compass of the changes that they were considering and released comms in relation to the commencement of the consultation activity at sites, the content of which is copied at Annex A for your information.
The proposed rollout plan is also attached for information (Annex B) and this will include a regional online session with Divisional and local representatives to ensure everyone has the same information, as the rollout plan is not regionally based. Then locally, discussions will take place with the CWU in relation to their individual unit. This will involve the sharing of all sales and footfall data on which Royal Mail have based their proposals, which will enable the local representatives to counter propose any changes to their unit.
We have also concluded and agreed a dispute process for the activity, which is attached for information (Annex C). This varies from the standard agreed DRP process within the IR Framework, as local operational Royal Mail Management have no authority to change the decision. The revised process ensures that each stage of the process is meaningful and to assist with these discussions a member of the Royal Mail project team, who has the authority to overturn the business decision, will be present at each stage of the process.
Given the potential impacts with regard to headcount reduction in catering units, discussions have also taken place with Eurest to understand and ensure the correct process of workforce planning takes place with our Eurest members, which has been confirmed.
The department will be available to support Representatives and Branches, if required, during the consultation period.
Any enquiries in relation to this LTB should be addressed to Davie Robertson, Assistant Secretary, email: email@example.com reference: 311.02.