Royal Mail’s Position Regarding Year Two Productivity Targets & Revision Activity in Delivery

Royal Mail’s Position Regarding Year Two Productivity Targets & Revision Activity in Delivery

We have received a number of enquiries from Branches concerning Royal Mail’s position in regards to ‘Year-Two’ productivity targets for both Table Top and Structural Revision units which are being outlined by them as part of the Productivity Section of the Pathway to Change Agreement.

The purpose of this Letter to Branches is to advise Branches of these developments and to confirm the current position in terms of our agreement on productivity under the Pathway to Change.

Table Top Revision Units

The Pathway to Change Agreement set out a joint commitment around delivery revision activity for 2021. The bulk of these revisions were based on Table Top activity and a measured step change improvement on WIPWH (Weighted Items Per Work Hours) against an agreed reference period, or to maintain the current level if at or above standard performance (196 WIPWH).

Whilst Royal Mail wrote to the CWU with their position around the year-two improvement plans for table top revisions in May 2022, there has been no direct engagement or meaningful discussions with the CWU Nationally as Royal Mail have taken an arbitrary approach, which is reflective of the wider current industrial relations climate, along with their unacceptable stance towards the Union and our National Agreements.

Royal Mail’s year-two improvement plan is outlined as follows:

  • Royal Mail have referred back to the 2019 original productivity reference starting point period (week’s 27-30) and have removed the unmeasured work hours.
  • Royal Mail have also reviewed each delivery unit’s WIPWH performance level based on week 1- 52 of 2021/22, minus bank holidays and peak weeks.
  • Royal Mail now want to establish a new year-two target for table top units that would be based on whatever of the two mechanisms (set out above) report as the highest productivity level.

Notwithstanding that this position by Royal Mail totally ignores that offices have made a year-one improvement target, it is now very clear that the impact of unmeasured hours being removed from the unit’s WIPWH performance will been significant. This confirms that for many years Royal Mail have seemingly been under reporting true productivity level within the delivery function.

In order to demonstrate the impact of removing unmeasured hours, in 2019 some 47 units had been reported as at or above 196 WIPWH. The removal of unmeasured hours has now resulted in 376 units being at or above 196 WIPWH, which is circa 42% of the delivery units that performed table top revisions.

Therefore, and to be clear for Branches and Representatives the main issues we have with Royal Mail’s proposals are as outlined (but not exhaustive):

That Royal Mail have ignored year-one targets and improvements made in delivery units and now seek to reset the original (weeks 27-30) 2019 reference period with the removal of unmeasured hours.

Royal Mail are now suggesting that for the most productive delivery units, that they must have a target set above that of standard performance, which is contrary to the Pathway to Change Agreement. However, for all remaining offices they have claimed that their target is standard performance of 196 WIPWH.

Over many years we have consistently pushed Royal Mail back on their mantra of “continuous improvement” and we have always maintained the position that if there is to be a standard level of productivity then that should be the end-state, and it is unacceptable and unsustainable for units to be expected to work beyond that. However, Royal Mail’s position is that there are 376 units above 196 standard performance and several over 240 WIPWH, and this will now be these units’ expected WIPWH levels to maintain going forward, contrary to the agreed level of standard performance set out in the Pathway to Change Agreement.

In addition to the above, the impact from the cost-of-living crisis and drop in traffic will have an impact on productivity, especially as the loss of larger parcels has a heavier ‘weighting’ impact on units WIPWH reported levels. Equally, Royal Mail’s unacceptable announcement to the CWU of executive action of their plans to deliver format 3 & 4 parcels in circa 346 Delivery Offices will also have a massive impact on the productivity of the remaining 940 units.

To confirm, the current position remains that units that underwent table top revisions in 2021 should only apply the agreed year-one WIPWH levels as set out in previous Joint Statements and Agreements.   

Structural Revisions units – Flightpath Calculator  

The Pathway to Change agreement set out a 2021 Structural Revision programme for some 400 units, over and above the Table Top revision activity.

It was anticipated that any unit that performs a structural revision in line with this revision programme was likely to see a difference in the hours generated from GeoRoute (the revision outdoor planning tool) to that of the unit’s Outdoor Workload Model (which is the current system used by Royal Mail to calculate the outdoor delivery workload and productivity under WIPWH).

To seek to address this anomaly between GeoRoute and the Outdoor Workload Model (OWM) the Flightpath Calculator was developed to ensure that the GeoRoute hours are used to define the units overall WIPWH level against the Model Week baseline for the outdoor and to ensure the unit’s local productivity target is ‘adjusted’ accordingly.

Additionally, the Flightpath Calculator was also designed in order to assist units that performed a structural revision to set out their ‘flightpath’ towards the local unit’s productivity target.

Whilst it was always understood that the initial Flightpath Calculator process issued alongside structural revisions would be subject to ongoing review in line with wider developments around WIPWH and further joint recommendations for the RM/CWU Productivity Joint Working Group, there are two major factors that have now developed.

Firstly, the Outdoor Department has received reports of units being presented with revised WIPWH targets which are not the same as that set out under the Flightpath Calculator (both for the flightpath and end-state WIPWH target).

These revised WIPWH targets are seemingly based on the same approach outlined for table top units. In that Royal Mail have re-run the 2019 original productivity reference starting point period based on the removed unmeasured work hours; and also reviewed each delivery unit’s WIPWH performance level based on reported levels from 2021/22. Again, whatever is the higher productivity level from the above two mechanisms is then being presented by Royal Mail as a new year-two level to replace the target from the revision’s Flightpath Calculator.

Additionally, there remains a jointly recognised outstanding issue in relation to the difference between how the Flightpath Calculator outlines a unit’s target to that of how WIPWH is currently reported weekly at local level.

In short, the Flightpath Calculator has already removed a number of unmeasured workload hours, (hours linked to Meal Reliefs, WTLL, Dedicated Collection Routes, Delivery Support etc.). Despite the wider joint recommendations for the Productivity JWP to remove these unmeasured hours from the weekly reported figure in April of this year, this has not happened and as such, there is a clear discrepancy between the two systems.

This means that a unit’s weekly reported WIPWH level will include these additional hours and therefore report a lower level of productivity against that set out in the Flightpath Calculator and relevant flightpath targets.

To confirm, there is no agreement in place to change a unit’s structural revision Flightpath WIPWH target (noting it is agreed that there is a need to review the Flightpath Calculator based on the outputs of the PJWG).  

Equally, weekly reported WIPWH levels are not reflective of how the Flightpath Calculator establishes a Unit’s structural revisions WIPWH level and any current highlighted gaps in reported productivity between the two will need to take account of this factor. 

We have already written to Royal Mail nationally on these wider points over the past few weeks and have made it clear that we expect our National agreements to be jointly honored and that these issues are part of the wider National Dispute Resolution Procedure. 

Branches and Representatives are advised to progress any savings or revision proposals which are not in line and consistent with our National Agreements through the IR Framework and the dispute resolution process. From a National CWU perspective and to be absolutely clear we have not agreed to any Revision proposals or programme of revisions activity, either through a structural or table top approach. Neither have we agreed on any year-two revised WIPWH productivity levels.

Any queries to the content of the above please contact the Outdoor Department reference 555, email address: njones@cwu.org

Yours sincerely,

Mark Baulch
CWU Assistant Secretary

LTB 299-22 – Two Year Productivity Targets – 07.07.22.

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