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Mental Health Awareness Week 10-16 May 2021. Mental Health Foundation’ and ‘Healthwatch’

Mental Health Awareness Week 10-16 May 2021

Mental Health Foundation’ and ‘Healthwatch’

Hosted by the ‘Mental Health Foundation’, this week 10-16 May 2021, starting today, is Mental Health Awareness Week.  The coronavirus pandemic has impacted people in many different ways and this week gives us all the opportunity to think about our own, and other people’s mental wellbeing.

‘Healthwatch’ state that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and Mental Health Awareness Week aims to get people talking about their mental health and reduce the stigma that can stop people from asking for help.

The theme this year is ‘Nature’ and a Mental Health Foundation research report entitled “mental health impacts of the Pandemic” showed that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of those surveyed reported being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health wellbeing.

As well as continuing to raise awareness of mental health in general, the aim for this week and beyond is to inspire more people to connect with nature and the outside environment in new ways, noticing the impact that this connection can have for their mental health.

Getting out into the countryside, open spaces, parks, reserves, connecting with pastimes, hobbies, interest groups, clubs, associations, charities, good causes etc can have the unique ability to increase creativity, reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.

The Mental Health Foundation would like people to think about how nature can support their mental health, for example: Is there green space near to you that you could access more often or is there a friend or family member that you have not seen for a long time and could arrange to meet up with them in a local park, rural area or beauty spot?

Mental Health UK’s – 5 Ways To Wellbeing

The ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ are a set of pillars which are key to improving our mental health. They are geared around themes of social connectedness, physical activity, awareness, learning, and giving.  Across the week, those interested can join in by building in some small yet effective activities into daily lives to feel more positive and able to get the most out of life! The 5 Ways are:

  1. Connect

Connection is about relating to one an other and feeling understood. Speak to the people in your life, be it friends, family, colleagues or neighbours. Build new connections to expand your circles – this could be at work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Developing these connections will support and enrich you every day.

  1. Take notice

Take stock of your surroundings, be curious, catch sight of the beautiful. Being in a state of ‘mindfulness’ has been shown to be associated with a positive mental state. Greater awareness of the world around us helps us see the unusual and notice simple pleasures like the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you’re walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be present to your feelings and environment. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

  1. Give

Giving encapsulates many things – from showing goodwill and generosity of spirit to giving presents and giving up our time. Evidence suggests that ‘giving back’ or helping others promotes wellbeing for all ages. Why not do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. You could even volunteer your time with a charity or join an online community to give and receive peer support in equal measure. The key to giving is to look outwards, as well as inwards. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

  1. Be Active

Engaging in regular physical activity is known to go hand in hand with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. Not everyone needs to be a fitness fanatic to boost your wellness through activity. Simply step outside, exercise your green fingers or organise a games night. You could go for a walk or run, cycle or dance. Exercise releases hormones that make you feel good. Most importantly, being active is about discovering a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

  1. Keep learning

Learning something new is good for your brain and often exciting for the learner. Trying something different, rediscovering an old interest or signing up for that course you’ve always wanted to do can also improve our confidence and widen our skillset. Take on a new responsibility at work, do some arts and crafts or pick up an untried recipe. The challenge and enjoyment of learning new things gives a sense of fulfilment that is second to none.

There is further information on “5-Ways-To-Wellbeing” plus lots of good Help and a variety of helpful information, support and advice to help you manage your mental health and wellbeing or support someone you know at the Mental Health UK Website:- https://mentalhealth-uk.org

“5-Ways-To-Wellbeing” Poster

See attached this useful information and guidance Poster/Leaflet on 5 ways to wellbeing that can be downloaded and printed off for distribution to workplaces.

(Mental Health UK is formed by a coalition of 4 UK Mental Health Charities; ‘Re-Think Mental Health’ England, ‘HAFAL’ Wales, ‘Support In Mind’ Scotland and ‘Mindwise’ Northern Ireland)

NHS Mental Wellbeing Audio Guides

The NHS has introduced a series of mental wellbeing audio guides people can listen to, to help boost your mood and tackle Mental Health issues.  You can listen to them privately, in your own time, to help you through feelings such as anxiety or a low mood. The Audio guides available are:

  • Audio Guide: Low mood and depression. In this audio guide, a doctor explains what you can do to help yourself cope with low mood and depression.
  • Audio Guide: Anxiety control training. In this audio guide, a doctor explains how you can take control of anxiety.
  • Audio Guide: Sleep problems. In this audio guide, a doctor explains what you can do to give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep.
  • Audio Guide: Low confidence and assertiveness. In this audio guide, a doctor gives you tips to help build your confidence.
  • Audio Guide: Unhelpful thinking. In this audio guide, a doctor helps you to replace negative thoughts with more positive thinking.

The Audio Guides are at:- https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/mental-wellbeing-audio-guides/

The NHS Mental Health website has other useful guides, tools and activities such as:

  • 10 Stress Busters
  • Exercise for Depression
  • 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing

Depression and Anxiety Mood self-assessment quiz:

When it comes to emotions, it can sometimes be hard to recognise or admit we’re not 100%. If you’re not sure how you’re feeling, you can try the NHS mood self-assessment. If you’re 16 or over, this depression and anxiety self-assessment quiz can help you better understand how you’ve been feeling recently. With each question, think about how you’ve been feeling over the last 2 weeks. The quiz is at:- https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/guides-tools-and-activities/depression-anxiety-self-assessment-quiz/

MHFA Address Your Stress Toolkit

In 2018 Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England launched their “Address Your Stress Toolkit” to support that year’s campaign and the Toolkit remains a useful resource. This included a set of practical resources designed to help people better understand and manage stress. The toolkit is still available to those wishing to use it on the above link. “Address Your Stress Toolkit” is available at:- https://mhfaengland.org/mhfa-centre/resources/address-your-stress/

MHFA “supporting your mental health whilst working at home” Video

Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) have produced a short video ‘supporting your mental health whilst working at home’ which is available on the following link: https://mhfaengland.org/remote-working-resources/everyone/

MHFA 10 Keys To Happier Living

See attached this useful information and guidance packed Poster/Leaflet that can be downloaded and printed off for distribution to workplaces.

PHE ‘Every Mind Matters Campaign’

This campaign was launched to support the nation’s mental health, as half of adults say they are more worried during this current lockdown than at the start of the pandemic and lockdown in March 2020.

A new survey, commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) at the start of the current government restrictions, reveals the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on adults’ mental wellbeing across the country.

The research found that almost half (49%) felt that the pandemic has impacted negatively on their mental health and wellbeing (53% of women and 45% of men). Of those surveyed, significant proportions of the population said they had been experiencing more anxiety (46%), stress (44%), sleep problems (34%) and low mood (46%) over the course of the pandemic. The following were the most common reasons people thought the lockdown had negatively impacted their mental health:

  • 56% missing friends and family; and loneliness 33%.
  • 53% uncertainty about the future; with financial and employment worries 27%.
  • 53% worried about family’s safety and health.

However, at the same time 3 in 5 (60%) of those asked say they feel hopeful about the future. Many adults (75%) reported that they are planning to take or have taken steps to look after their mental wellbeing, with exercising regularly (32%) eating well (29%) and talking more to family and friends (28%) being the main actions.

To support people during this time, PHE launched a nationwide “Better Health – Every Mind Matters” campaign to support people to take action to look after their mental health and wellbeing and help support others such as family and friends. The campaign encourages people to get a free NHS-approved Mind Plan from the “Every Mind Matters Website”. By answering 5 simple questions, adults will get a personalised action plan with practical tips to help them deal with stress and anxiety, boost their mood, sleep better and feel more in control. Over 2.6 million Mind Plans have been created since it launched.

The “Every Mind Matters Covid-19 Hub” also includes practical tips and support on how adults can deal with uncertainty, how to cope with money and job worries and how to look after both their own and their family’s mental wellbeing while staying at home.

The campaign is supported by a coalition of leading mental health charities, including ‘Mind’, ‘Samaritans’, ‘Young Minds’ and ‘Rethink Mental Health’.

https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-wellbeing-tips/your-mind-plan-quiz/

Royal Mail Group

Royal Mail Group the largest employer of CWU Grades is initiating a comprehensive awareness and information campaign during Mental Health Awareness Week covering the Occupational Health support package for the workforce and signposting workers to a number of support organisations and charities. The RMG First Class Support service is completely confidential and independent. RMG workforce members can Visit: ‘www.rmgfirstclasssupport.co.uk’ or download the ‘Lifeworks’ app to access health assessments, tailored support programmes and content. RMG employees can call 0345 266 5060 or use the online chat facility via the website or app if they would like to talk to someone about any physical or mental health-related matter, for lifestyle advice, or for direct access to ‘free’ counselling treatments. New users of the website or app can sign up using a unique invitation code, which is ‘RMG-‘ and their payroll number, for example RMG-12345678. The “Feeling First Class – Mental Health” support and advice is on the Health and Wellbeing Intranet pages, and the page includes stress guidance, support and training as well as signposting to internal and external mental health support services. The RMG – Rowland Hill FundTel: 0345 600 4586Website: www.rowlandhillfund.org offers financial aid to colleagues, pensioners and their families in times of need.  See attached RMG Mental Health Awareness Week information. Neyber: Through Royal Mail Group’s ‘My Bundle’ is a financial wellbeing option where RMG employees can access debt consolidation loans and financial education. Visit: ‘mybundle.royalmail.com’.

Shout 85258

Shout 85258 is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope. The charity Shout 85258 launched publicly in May 2019 and since then they’ve had more than 500,000 conversations with people who are anxious, stressed, depressed, suicidal or overwhelmed and who need immediate support. As a digital service, Shout 85258 has become increasingly critical since Covid-19, being one of the few mental health support services able to operate as normal at this time. Shout has 2,300 empathetic, trained volunteers who take conversations with texters, listening and supporting them to get to a calmer place. Shout Clinical Supervisors oversee and monitor the real-time support and conversations 24/7. Clinical supervisors can escalate texters to the emergency services via a direct line if they are deemed at imminent risk. The most common issues which emerge during a conversation are: suicide (34%), depression (34%), anxiety (32%), relationship (27%), loneliness (18%) and self-harm (15%).

Samaritans

If you’re struggling or in distress – It’s best to speak to someone now. The Samaritans Helpline runs 24/7 and you can call 116 123 if you want to talk to someone now.

Email: jo@samaritans.org

Website: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/

Get involved

The Mental Health Foundation and MHFA want Mental Health First Aiders, Trade Union Reps, Mental Health Ambassadors and Champions to support the Mental Health Awareness Week campaigns and to make the most of the information and toolkits provided during Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond. The CWU Health Safety and Environment Department is joining with MHFA England, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Young Minds, Re-Think Mental Health, Time To Change, Shout and the Samaritans in supporting Mental Health Awareness Week.  We are therefore encouraging Reps to get involved with the campaigns within the Union, as well as with friends, family and colleagues, bearing fully in mind the obvious limitations this year due to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Pandemic Lockdown situation. This effort and initiative doesn’t end after this week and we would encourage Branches, Reps and Regions to organise campaigns on an ongoing basis using the resources available.

CWU Mental Health Strategy 

Steve Jones NEC member and Chair of the CWU national ‘Mental Health Strategy Project Team’ issued the following message today at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week:

“A major component of the CWU Mental Health Strategy is to build support for the 700 or so Reps that have had Awareness or Mental Health First Aid training. Last year each region nominated a ‘lead’ to help deliver this as well as assist in building a mental health strategy within their respective regions. We have set up a national network for the ‘leads’ and we are currently increasing this support from 1 to 2 per Region. So far a number of ‘Stress Workshops’ and discussions with Regions and their Executives have been held. Each of these initiatives have been received with huge support and enthusiasm. It is evident that mental health is a massive issue which touches the lives of all of us in one way or another, the pandemic has brought this into sharp focus. I would like to give a massive thanks to all of our Reps for the magnificent job that they are doing in supporting fellow members in increasingly difficult times. The most important message I can give is don’t suffer in silence.” 

Useful Contacts:

Together, we can realise our shared vision of where anyone affected by mental illness can get the appropriate support and care to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Help us spread the word through awareness raising and continue to amplify the message of “You Are Not Alone.”

Attachments:

  • Mental Health UK – ‘5 Ways To Wellbeing Poster/Leaflet’
  • Mental Health First Aid (Eng) – 10 Keys To Happier Living’ Poster/Leaflet
  • Mental Health Foundation – Mental Health Awareness Week Poster
  • RMG – Mental Health Awareness Week – Briefings & Poster

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

21LTB189 Mental Health Awareness Week 10-16 May 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week Nature Podster

MHAW 2021 5-Ways-To-Wellbeing-Poster-Leaflet

MHAW 2021 Plasma Slide v1

MHAW 2021 Poster v1

MHAW21 1 of 3 Welcome FINAL

MHAW21 2 of 3 Financial Wellbeing FINAL

MHAW21 3 of 3 Managing Relationships FINAL

MHFA – 10 Keys to Happier Living – Poster

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TRUST SURVEY

TRUST SURVEY

Members and Representatives have been contacting the departments to ask whether Royal Mail Property and Facilities Solutions Limited (PFSL) are part of the Royal Mail Trust Survey.

RMPFSL Cleaners, Engineering, Admin and Generic Grades are an important part of Royal Mail Group and therefore we are encouraging all members to participate in the Trust Survey and give their views.

The closing date for the Trust Survey is Sunday 9th May 2021 and therefore any PFSL member who wishes to participate in the trust survey will get time to complete the survey, please speak with your line manager to arrange this.

We encourage all PFSL representatives to give as much publicity as possible to this LTB to ensure RMPFSL members have their say in the survey and we can engage the company on the results.

All enquiries regarding the content of this LTB should be addressed to the PTCS Department, quoting reference 220. Email address: khay@cwu.org or Outdoor Department, reference120, email address: njones@gmail.com

Yours sincerely,
                                                                    
Carl Maden                                                                      
Assistant Secretary (Acting)                                    
PTCS Department    


Mark Baulch
Assistant Secretary
Outdoor Department

LTB 180/21

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Royal Mail Group – Re-Introduction of Driver In-Cab Training in All Vehicles and Update on The Road Map Out Of Lockdown: (Includes New Driver Induction Training & Post Accident Driver Training etc., – Managing Occupational Road Risk)

Royal Mail Group – Re-Introduction of Driver In-Cab Training in All Vehicles and Update on The Road Map Out Of Lockdown: (Includes New Driver Induction Training & Post Accident Driver Training etc., – Managing Occupational Road Risk)

In February, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s four-step roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions and provide a route back to a more normal way of life. Each step is to be assessed before restrictions ease, with a review and decision at each stage, which will be based on the Covid-19 infection case data not dates. The Government states that it will move cautiously, aiming to keep infection rates under control. Infection rates and deaths in the UK are reducing and the numbers vaccinated are increasing rapidly with around 70% of the population now vaccinated.

As the country is now on the Government’s staged roadmap out of lockdown, Royal Mail indicated its need and intention to re-start the full programme of Driver Training because of it being essential and ‘legally required’. When lockdown commenced last year, Royal Mail Group suspended a range of tasks including vehicle in-cab training. As the country moves through the stages of the UK Government and devolved administrations’ roadmaps, a range of restrictions are being lifted. One of these restrictions is driving lessons and examinations which are now permitted across all nations. Collectively, Royal Mail and Parcelforce with the CWU and Unite/CMA believe that it is now safe to reintroduce in-cab driver training with Covid-Secure controls retained at this stage.

Royal Mail Group operates the largest commercial fleet in the UK and Europe. CWU fully acknowledges the importance of the business needing to meet its obligations in law requiring it to discharge its HSAW Act general duties and its specific MHSAW Regulations obligations in respect of occupational road risk and driver safety plus the need to provide information, instruction and training to drivers under S2 of the HSAW Act. The HSE sets out clear requirements in their legal guidance ‘Managing work-related road safety’ (INDG382) regarding their expectations in respect of effective management of work-related road safety in order to ensure driver competency and fewer injuries to drivers through a system of road risk controls to ensure drivers have the right skills, knowledge and experience.

Following discussions between RMHQ and CWUHQ regarding the changing and easing of Government lockdown restrictions and resultant Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, DfT, DVLA and HSE rules changes, the basis for a return to driver training was progressed, after a joint review of the ‘Covid-Secure’ – ‘Covid-Safe’ risk assessment and safe system of work control measures.

The CWU/HQ Health, Safety & Environment Department is in support of the resumption of driver training, including ‘in-cab’ training, based on Government announced new Covid-19 rules which are part of the well-publicised ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. A revised set of key risk assessed safety rules are summarised below and contained in the attached, updated Task Based Risk Assessment, Safe Working Instruction and RMG Communication issued by Global Director of Safety, Compliance and Sustainability Dr. Shaun Davis, the content of which was subject to consultation and agreement.

Driver in-cab training ceased when the country entered lockdown and as a result a considerable backlog has built up in the business.  This involves circa 6,500 driver induction training sessions and circa 3,500 post-accident driver training sessions.  Additionally, the business is in the process of recruiting circa 500 new drivers. The business, as a major fleet operator, has legal obligations under health and safety law to provide fit for purpose, ‘legally required’, driver training, information and instruction in order to be compliant and as such both Royal Mail and Parcelforce, as well as the Union are keen to see a resumption of this important and necessary safety training to ensure our driver members are well trained and competent, so as to ensure their safety on the UK roads as well as when they drive in and around Royal Mail and Parcelforce sites and property plus on customers’ premises.

Therefore, Royal Mail Group now wish to expedite the driver training programme in order to clear the backlog of this training, caused as a result of the impact of the Pandemic and suspension of training, and in doing so ensure that CWU members will benefit from this important road safety, driver tuition.

Following discussions with Royal Mail, the following ‘Covid-Secure, Covid-Safe’ key in-cab training safety controls were agreed:

Driver In-Cab Training Covid-Secure Safety Controls:

In-cab driver training will now recommence in all vehicle types imminently. To ensure the safety of both our drivers and instructors, RMG and CWU have agreed to follow instructions set out in a reviewed Risk Assessment and Safe Working Instructions.  These include (key points):

  • Drivers and instructors to take a Lateral Flow Device test within the two days prior to training.
  • Both driver and instructor to wear a ‘new on the day’ Royal Mail branded, 3-ply face covering.
  • The vehicle must always be ventilated.
  • Touchpoints must be cleaned both before and after the session.

The dedicated Risk Assessment and Safe Working Instructions have been updated to reflect the change in the control measures. (Copies are attached).

Following conclusion of the health and safety consultation process, agreeing to put the above list of controls in place, it was concluded that those undertaking this training are at no greater risk than any other employees currently working for Royal Mail, undertaking other work and functions.

ASRs should take careful note of the above and should ensure that all ‘Covid-Secure’ health and safety controls are fully applied and complied with in relation to training taking place within or to/from their constituent area sites. ASRs should keep themselves informed and updated on training scheduled in their area.

‘Pertemps Driver Training’ 

‘Pertemps Driver Training’ who are the Royal Mail contracted driver training company have agreed that their trainers will undertake twice a week LFD testing to confirm they are Covid-19 negative prior to training Royal Mail employees.

DCPC (Driver Certificate of Professional Competence) Classroom Training Re-Introduction

Following discussions between RMHQ and CWUHQ regarding DCPC classroom training, on the basis of the previously agreed ‘Covid-Secure’ – ‘Covid-Safe’ risk assessment and safe system of work control measures, DCPC classroom training has been re-started, following the Government announced new Covid-19 rules as part of the ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. The re-start has been on condition of a list of controls contained in the Risk Assessment and Safe Working Instructions. Full details are published in CWU Letter To Branches LTB177/2021.

Other Work Tasks and Covid-Secure Restrictions

Against the Government Road-Map backdrop, Royal Mail Group has been working together with the CWU and Unite/CMA to review the protective measures that we have in place and to understand what risk controls can now be changed safely, as the country moves towards the end of ‘lockdown’. Royal Mail Group, in full consultation with the CWU and Unite/CMA, is considering how and when the lifting of some restrictions introduced in Royal Mail Group due to the social distancing requirements, can be changed. This will be considered in line with the Government Roadmap stages. The range of tasks which have impacted on operations include: shared vans, sorting at IPS frames, bullring sorting operations, working at incline conveyors, loading aircraft and ULDs (Pods), working at drop bag fittings and loose loading of trailers. In line with the UK Government’s Roadmap for the reduction of restrictions, Royal Mail Group will continue to work with the Unions, and in full consultation with them, towards the re-introduction of shared vans from 21 June. This date is of course subject to any changes in the UK Government Roadmap, any restrictions in devolved administrations and in infection rates.

Cleaning Standards

The CWU has continually throughout the pandemic raised concerns around cleaning standards and resources. Royal Mail Group is currently working with RMPFS cleaning management to ensure cleanliness standards are improved and maintained. This will include the reopening of those facilities that were temporarily closed to achieve social distancing during the pandemic lockdown.

‘Hands-Face-Space-Cleaning-Ventilation-Fresh Air’

The Government’s current guidance on ‘staying safe’ is for workers to maintain “Covid-Secure” standards; keep washing hands, keep wearing a face covering, keep your distance, increase ventilation and fresh air and ‘get tested’.

Workforce Lateral Flow Testing

Royal Mail, CWU and the Government, through the DHSC and NHS are proud to have secured agreement to roll-out ‘Workforce Testing’ nationally, across the UK from 10 May – further supporting our membership in Royal Mail Group (Royal Mail, Parcelforce, RMSS, Fleet, RMP&FS, RM Engineering, MDECs, Admin etc.,) for the workforce in quickly identifying those infected but without symptoms (pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic) in order to protect them, their families and work colleagues and making our collective contribution to cutting infections. The Royal Mail Group National Workforce Testing Programme commences on 10 May. All members/employees will be encouraged to participate in Lateral Flow Testing, twice weekly and those opting to take part will be provided with the test kits at their workplace for their convenience and support, enabling them to test in the privacy and comfort of their own homes. Alternatively, kits can be obtained through an on-line home ordering and delivery service, by ‘Pharmacy-Collect’, collection from test centre sites, by community testing offered by all local authorities and through testing on-site at schools and colleges. Full details are published in CWU Letter To Branches LTB183/2021.

Further updates and communications will follow.

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

21LTB188 Royal Mail Group – Re-Introduction of Driver In-Cab Training in All Vehicles and Update on The Road Map Out Of Lockdown

Copy of TBRA-Coronavirus-Driver Vehicle Training-v1.2

SWI -Coronavirus Temporary-Driver Vehicle Training-v1.2

Message From Shaun Davis 5 May 21 -Managers Update Communication – Drive…

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PATHWAY TO CHANGE AGREEMENT – NEW LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT

PATHWAY TO CHANGE AGREEMENT – NEW LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT

Colleagues will be aware that the whole focus of the Union’s current approach following the endorsement of the Pathway to Change Agreement has been driven by the requirement to change the culture, improve trust and create an industrial relations environment whereby the emphasis is on how we develop joint mutual interest solutions and agreements avoiding where possible reaching a disagreement.

However, disagreements will emerge and how we support the speedy resolution to disagreements and ensure we deal with them effectively within a specific timeframe is key to maintaining a progressive IR culture.  The emphasis being the quicker one deals with a problem, the faster you get back on track.

Against that backdrop, Section 2.8 of the Pathway to Change Agreement committed the Union and Royal Mail Group to amend the Legally Binding Agreement annexed to the Agenda for Growth Agreement, the specific commitment is reproduced below;

It is our shared aim that effective dispute resolution processes should enable the resolution of matters in a positive and timely manner. The focus should be on finding solutions and avoiding conflict. Whilst we remain committed to the principles of the IR Framework (1992, 1994) and the Procedural Agreement in Parcelforce, we recognise the need to refresh specific elements regarding external mediation in the legally binding DRPs (specifically schedule 3, section 4 of the legal contract) and the respective section of the Agenda for Growth Agreement (specifically section 5.4 of the agreement) and the parties will work together to with our respective legal advisors to introduce the following changes by no later than 28 February 2021.

  • A more effective and robust way of jointly managing the application, recording and timescales of the procedures. 
  • Review managerial and CWU interfaces at local, area and divisional level (or equivalent) to ensure that these individuals meet with full authority to resolve disagreements in line with the procedure.
  • To introduce a clearer distinction between achieving local and national agreements. 
  • To introduce a time-bound one-month process for resolution of national issues after a dispute has been raised and prior to the national parties informing each other of their intentions. (External mediation can be part of this process, if both parties agree to it, but cannot extend the time without agreement). This will replace the relevant extended procedures currently set out in the legal contract schedule 3, section 4 and the Agenda for Growth Agreement section 5.4. 
  • To reinvigorate the principles of resolving issues and achieving agreement at local level. Once the local dispute process has been exhausted on an issue, if resolution hasn’t been achieved, there will be an opportunity for referral to the national parties for a time-bound one-week review (or longer by mutual agreement) to agree a resolution, following which the local dispute process will be regarded as completed and there will be no recourse to national intervention within the formal procedures. 

These principles have all been incorporated into the attached agreed new legally-binding contract that will amend the previous legally-binding contract annexed to the Agenda for Growth Agreement.

However, the constructive nature of these talks enabled us going beyond the specific commitments detailed above on the basis that it was logical to tidy up the dispute resolution procedures and to make some small but significant changes in the following areas;

The Protections 

This refers to the company’s obligations not to break up the business, not to allow franchises, not to operate a two-tier workforce, not to start employees on zero-hours contracts, not to worsen existing terms and conditions, to honour the Job Security, Resourcing and Managing Change Agreement and to recognise the CWU.  All these obligations remain in place.

In this area is was felt that the contract was ambiguous in respect of some of the protections, so the wording has been amended to make it clear that if any of the Protections are being breached, the Union can go straight to court for an injunction.  It does not need to go through any form of dispute resolution process first – it would only have to do so if it intended to start industrial rather than legal action.

Dispute Resolution Processes:

 Disagreements that start at Local Level

The basic structure for resolving local disputes is still based on the IR Framework but it has been streamlined.

Stage 1

The basic principle remains that if a disagreement arises at the level of an individual unit, shift or equivalent, the Unit Representative and his or her counterpart will try to resolve it.  If they cannot, either of them can refer the disagreement to Area Level.  There is no longer any need for a formal joint statement of what the dispute is about, still less any need to try to agree any such statement. (this is to ensure the lack of cooperation by either party should not be allowed to make the disagreement fester or threaten the status quo).  To be clear if a local representative wanted to register a disagreement unilaterally because the local manager was refusing to register it jointly, we would still expect a full report from the local representative to the area representative in line with our current joint IR training.

Stage 2

Once the disagreement is referred to Area Level the clock starts to tick.  The Area Representative and his or her counterpart must start discussions within a week.  The discussions can last no longer than a week unless both sides agree to an extension.  If they cannot reach an agreement, either side must refer the disagreement to Divisional Level within a week in line with our current joint IR training.

Stage 3

The Divisional Representative and his or her counterpart must start discussions within two weeks.  Unless an extension is agreed, the discussions must be concluded within two weeks.

Continuing Failure to Agree

If there is no agreement following the Stage 3 discussions at Divisional Level, parties must report the failure to agree to National Level.  One week later the procedure is at an end.

Disagreements that start at Area, Divisional or National Level

It is sometimes apparent that what presents itself as a disagreement within a particular unit is in fact a manifestation of an area-wide, division-wide or national policy adopted by the company or its managers, meaning that local level discussions would be a waste of time.

Under the new agreement, a disagreement that relates to all units in an area or a division enters the process at Area or Divisional Level.

We have now formally clarified that an in principle disagreement about the meaning or application of a national agreement or policy can emerge or be identified at any stage of the Local, Area or Divisional Level disagreement process.  Where that is the case, under the new agreement the “in principle” disagreement is referred to National Level from the outset.

If there is a failure to agree at National Level, the procedure is at an end.

Early Warnings and Flashpoints

In this situation and in the recent past the company’s first course of action has been to send a letter to the Union calling upon it to repudiate the action being taken.  In the negotiations, the company’s representatives agreed that doing so is counterproductive if the Divisional Representative and his or her counterpart are doing what they can to restore normal working and in a side-letter they have given a commitment not to write to call for repudiation until 24 hours have been allowed to restore normal working (copy attached).

The “early warnings” process is engaged if a flashpoint seems to be on the horizon but has not yet occurred.  If either side has a genuine reason to think that a flashpoint may occur, the Union Divisional Representative and his or her counterpart will become involved to find out what the problem is and try to resolve it.

Industrial Action

The agreement means that the Union has to go through a procedure to try to resolve differences before taking industrial action but it does not prevent the Union from taking industrial action – it emphatically never was or is a no-strike agreement.

The requirement for compulsory external mediation has gone.  It is still available if both sides want to use it but it is no longer compulsory and either side can walk away if it is started but seems to be going nowhere.  External mediation was considered by both parties as a major time constraint on resolving any differences.

The time constraints now are these, unless the parties agree to extend in the interest of an agreement being reached:

A dispute that starts at local level: one week to start Area Level talks and up to one week of Area Level talks, two weeks to start Divisional Level talks and up to two weeks of Divisional Level talks and one week’s reflection if Divisional Level talks lead to a failure to agree. That makes a total of seven weeks, if Union representatives escalate the dispute to the next level as quickly as possible and less than that if it is clear that talks are going nowhere.

A dispute at national level: the Union is committed to national level talks of at least one month.

It is now conformed in the contract that there is nothing to stop the Union campaigning, preparing for a ballot or conducting a ballot while the talks are ongoing.

Unilateral Management Action

It remains the case that if a disagreement is being dealt with at Local, Area or Divisional Level, management must continue to observe whatever national or local agreements are in place or in the absence of an agreement, must continue whatever working practices have been in place for at least a week before the dispute arose. They are legally obliged to do so and this is why it is so important that a local disagreement is identified and raised prior to any status quo being threatened.

However, in very high bar circumstances that does not apply to a dispute which starts at national level.  The company retains the right to take unilateral action at national level on issues not covered by any national agreement or to terminate any national agreement that is binding in honour only.  The company will not give a legally-binding commitment to maintain the status quo whilst national talks are ongoing.  They say there may be reasons of financial distress, refinancing, insolvency, stock market obligations etc. that make it impossible to do so.

Conclusion 

The agreement annexed to Agenda for Growth was essentially a negotiated settlement with the company that gave the Union the very important Protections in the face of privatisation in exchange for a binding commitment to exhaust procedures before taking industrial action.

Those procedures and specifically the required external mediation have proven to take a long time to exhaust, led to uncertainty and have presented very expensive legal complications and challenges.

The Legally Binding Agreement reached in 2014 was truly groundbreaking and has now been refined and evolved to continue its effectiveness;

  • All of the important protections are still in place.
  • The Dispute Resolution Process is now much quicker since compulsory mediation has gone and the opportunity for heel-dragging has been removed.
  • The possibility of starting the procedure at Area or Divisional Level is particularly welcome.
  • So is the company’s enhanced commitment to resolve flashpoints without sending a repudiation letter as an immediate first reaction.
  • Clarification that the Union can commence public campaigning and preparing for a ballot whilst talks are still underway is not a breach, is very important.

We have been assisted in these talks with our long-term legal advisors and CWU friends Ivan Walker and Binder Bansel and wish to record our huge thanks and appreciation to them for their wisdom and support in these negotiations.

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) 

21LTB184 PATHWAY TO CHANGE AGREEMENT – NEW LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT

Attachment 1 to LTB 184-21 Agenda For Growth Legally Binding Agreement Updated May 2021

Attachment 2 to LTB 184-21 Amending agreement AfG FINALfor SIGNATURE

Attachment 3 to LTB 184-21 Newman Matt RE Repudiation Letter to Terry Pullinger 23 February 2021                              

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Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash (FY21 008) – Loading Dock Safety – Red-Light Drive Off – Near Miss

Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash (FY21 008) – Loading Dock Safety – Red-Light Drive Off – Near Miss:

Audience:

All Royal Mail Group drivers who drive and operate a tail lift fitted vehicle.

Overview and Background:

Royal Mail Group Safety Health and Environment Group have issued ‘Safety Flash’, number FY21 008, (copy attached), which gives a summary of a recent near miss which could have led to a serious injury accident. The ‘Safety Flash’ is to form the basis of a Unit Briefing for ALL ROYAL MAIL DRIVERS operating large vehicles to and from ‘Traffic-Light’ controlled loading docks, in order to raise awareness of the potential risk of similar incidents which could cause a serious injury accident, involving falls from height whilst loading/unloading vehicles and trailers.

Issue: 

The ‘mandatory’ Safe System of Work (SSoW) was not followed by the driver concerned.

Description of the Incident:

The incident occurred when an agency driver reversed a Motive/Tractor Unit onto a loading bay to couple up/connect to a static trailer. Once coupled up the driver did not check the loading bay traffic lights and pulled forward off of the loading bay on a ‘red light’. Fortunately, none of the loading dock staff were injured. The agency driver had been to the site on a number of previous occasions and was fully aware of the safe system of work traffic lights procedures that should be followed.

Impact and Effect:

Fall from height risks to loading bay staff entering and exiting the vehicle or trailer whilst loading/unloading containers, pallets or loose loaded items, possibly operating MHE.

Key Learning Points, Management Activities and Messages to Staff:

Where loading dock traffic lights are in use: 

  • Green lights = vehicles can move on or off the loading dock.
  • Red Lights = no vehicle movements on or off the loading dock.
  • Ensure you are looking at the correct set of lights for the loading dock.
  • If no lights are showing report to a manager on site.
  • All drivers must adhere to the loading dock traffic light systems.
  • Vehicles must not drive off from a loading dock when a red light is displayed.
  • Drivers must complete the appropriate checks of trailers/rear of vehicles and ensure the dock leveller and loading dock doors are retracted and closed prior to departing.
  • Unit PIC to review current vehicle key control procedure to ensure robust controls.
  • Unit PIC to ensure that vehicle keys are not handed back to drivers unless dock levellers have been retracted and the bay doors closed.
  • Unit PIC to ensure Yard Rules have been cascaded/shared with all employees and are clearly displayed in key locations.
  • Unit PIC to deploy targeted SMATs to confirm the compliance to standards and procedures.

Key Management Activity:

  • Communicate and display the SHE Safety Flash on the SHE Notice board.
  • Brief drivers on Loading Dock Safety, Safe System of Work and the Loading Dock Traffic Light Safety System to all drivers operating large vehicles and trailers to and from traffic light controlled loading docks.

Attachment:

  • Copy of RMG SHE Safety Flash FY21 008 – Loading Dock Safety – Red-Light Drive Off – Near Miss

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

21LTB187 Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash (FY21 008) – Loading Dock Safety – Red-Light Drive Off – Near Miss

SHE Flash FY21 008 Dock Safety

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Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash (FY21 007) – Parcel Sorting Machine (PSM) Tipper Area – Fall Accident:

Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash (FY21 007) – Parcel Sorting Machine (PSM) Tipper Area – Fall Accident:

Audience:

All Royal Mail PSM Site Processing Staff.

Overview and Background:

Royal Mail Group Safety Health and Environment Group have issued ‘Safety Flash’, number FY21 007, (copy attached), which gives a summary of a recent fall accident which resulted in significant injuries. The ‘Safety Flash’ is to form the basis of a Unit Briefing to ALL PSM SITE PROCESSING STAFF operating ‘Parcel Sorting Machines’, in order to raise awareness of the potential risk of similar accidents involving falls from height whilst working unsafely and    attempting to remove objects from the PSM Tipper Area.

Issue:

The Safe System of Work (SSoW) was not followed by the staff member concerned who was attempting to remove a York container cardboard sleeve base from the PSM Tipper/Conveyor Area, after the base had fallen into the machine along with the parcels from the York, as it was being tipped by the Automated Tipper.

Description of the Incident:

A PSM Operator was tipping loaded York containers into the PSM machine when an unsecured cardboard sleeve base fell into the machine along with the York container’s parcel load. Cardboard sleeve bases will cause the machine to stop if they travel along the conveyor.

At the PSM Mail Centre concerned, staff had developed a habit, in breach of the ‘mandatory’ Safe System of Work, whereby they would use either an unofficial set of steps or an up-turned stack of Perstop Trays to climb up, gain access to the moving machine and reach across the safety barrier to remove the cardboard base from the conveyor.

On this occasion the PSM operator lost balance and fell, sustaining serious injuries.

Impact and Effect:

Significant injuries sustained.

Key Learning Points, Management Activities and Messages to Staff:

  • Communicate and display this SHE Flash on the SHE Noticeboard.
  • Brief all PSM staff on this SHE Flash, alerting them to risk and the accident and its cause.
  • PSM staff to follow the mandatory PSM SSoW at all times.
  • Do not climb in order to reach over the metal safety barriers in order to access a moving machine.
  • Check the PSM work area for unofficial access equipment (steps and up-turned tray stacks) removing them.
  • Brief PSM Staff that before tipping cardboard sleeved York containers – check the base retaining lugs have been pushed inwards on each corner. This will ensure that the base will not ‘fall out’ when tipped.

Key Management Activity:

  • Communicate and display the SHE Safety Flash on the SHE Notice board.
  • Brief all PSM staff on the correct SSoW safety procedure to be followed at all times including how to deal with York container cardboard sleeves and bases and how to avoid tipping the bases into PSMs – pushing in the ‘base retaining lugs’ before tipping the York container.
  • Importantly convey the message that staff must never attempt to access a moving machine incorrectly or use unofficial access equipment as serious injury can result.

Attachment:

  • Copy of RMG SHE Safety Flash FY21 007 – Parcel Sorting Machine (PSM) Tipper Area – Fall Accident:

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

21LTB186 Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash (FY21 007) – Parcel Sorting Machine (PSM) Tipper Area – Fall Accident

SHE Flash FY21 007 PSM Tipper Section Fall

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Special Rules Revision Conference 2021 – Decisions

Special Rules Revision Conference 2021 – Decisions

Please find attached copies of the results of the votes and decisions taken during the Special Rules Revision Conference which were held on Saturday 24th April 2021.

Any enquiries regarding this Letter to Branches should be addressed to Angela Niven or sent to conferences@cwu.org

Yours sincerely

Tony Kearns
Senior Deputy General Secretary

21LTB185 – Special Rules Revision Conference 2021 – Decisions

Vote Results Proposal 1

Vote Results Proposal 2

Vote Results Proposal 11

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National Roll Out of Coronavirus/Covid-19 – LFD Workforce Testing in Royal Mail Group:

National Roll Out of Coronavirus/Covid-19 – LFD Workforce Testing in Royal Mail Group:

Branches and Regions will be aware from reports published in LTBs 581/20, 54/21 and 102/21 that Royal Mail Group has been running a number of RMG/CWU Jointly supported Covid-19 Workforce LFD (Lateral Flow Device) Testing Pilots/Trials in Sheffield City DO, Birmingham Mail Centre and finally across 150 plus Royal Mail and Parcelforce Offices (including RMSS, RM Fleet, RM Engineering and RMP&FS) in CM, SS, CO, NR, IP, NN and AL postcode areas).

Since last year the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department has been pressing for the introduction of ‘Workforce Testing’ for Covid-19/Coronavirus as a positive, proactive way of improving ‘Covid-Secure’ workplace standards and ‘Covid-Safety’ by combatting the spread and transmission of the virus in the workplace by quickly identifying those infected but asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and getting them into self-isolation promptly, so as to firstly protect the individual and secondly reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to others, bearing in mind that many people, estimated as one in three, may be infected but are either ‘pre-symptomatic’ or ‘asymptomatic’ and will not know they have the virus and are transmitting it to others.

A positive test early in the course of the illness enables individuals to isolate themselves, reducing the chances that they will infect others and allows them to seek treatment earlier, likely reducing disease severity and the risk of long-term disability, or death.

Since it is recognised that a third of all Covid-19 infections are transmitted by people who are not showing any symptoms, identifying infected individuals via testing while they are pre-symptomatic, as well as those who are asymptomatic, via workforce testing in Royal Mail Group, one of the UK’s largest employers, could therefore play a major role in helping stop the virus spread.

A ‘tripartite’ agreement was reached involving the CWU, Unite CMA, Royal Mail Group and the Department of Health and Social Care for Royal Mail to be involved in a wider Government initiative, running a number of pilots to test the concept of regular weekly Covid-19 testing in the workplace. The pilots formed part of the Government plan and subsequent decision, announced by the Prime Minister recently, to roll out mass testing technology across the UK.

Royal Mail and CWU nationally and locally in the Pilot/Trial areas, have jointly been working together to bring about the successful outcome from where Lateral Flow Device home self-testing of the workforce could be rolled out nationally. The role and full involvement of local managers, CWU Area and local Health and Safety Representatives, IR Representatives and the workforce has been, and will continue to be vital to the successful further deployment and roll out of testing which it is planned to run from next week until the end of June when the Government is scheduled to end lockdown restrictions, subject to the staged evaluation of current vaccinations progress, declining hospital admissions and falling infection and death rates. The situation in the UK is currently improving greatly but we must bear in mind the situation with virus variants plus the international picture across Europe and in India and other countries which could threaten progress.

Following initial discussions between the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department, Royal Mail Group and Government Agencies the BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), agreement was reached and contracts signed with the DHSC (Department of Health & Social Care) and the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency) in relation to securing participation in the Government’s Workforce Covid-19 Testing Programme Pilots.

Agreement has now been reached between Royal Mail Group, CWU and DHSC (Department of Health & Social Care) that National Workforce LFD Home Testing can be rolled out nationally across Royal Mail Group from Monday 10 May and a stock of 300,000 LFD Test Kits is now in Royal Mail Swindon Walk Bundling Centre ready for national distribution to workplaces.

Alongside the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines, regular testing is at the heart of plans for easing lockdown restrictions. Hence the Government and the devolved nations announced that everyone will be able to take a free rapid coronavirus (Covid-19) test twice a week.

From 10th May, every member will be able to take part in home, twice weekly, self-testing by collecting test kit packs from their workplace until the 30th June as per the current Government guidelines. This is a simple, most convenient option now available to members, in addition to the Government’s other options of ordering test kits on-line, collecting test kits from a local testing site, community sites, participating pharmacies or at schools and colleges which some members may wish to opt for. The workplace option makes it easier and more accessible for members to collect test kits and participate in regular testing, helping to keep themselves, families, friends and co-workers safe.

Nothing is 100%. A negative result means it is likely that the individual is not infectious at the time the test was taken, however it is not a 100% guarantee that the person does not have the Covid-19 virus. People are still susceptible to catching and spreading the virus and so respecting social distancing and other rules (i.e., regular hand washing and sanitising, cleaning touch points plus wearing a face mask/covering, cleaning and ventilation/fresh air) are the most powerful ways of stopping the spread of the virus.

In Summary:

  • On 10 May – National Roll-Out of Covid-19 LFD (Lateral Flow Device) Workforce Testing across Royal Mail Group (RM, PFWW, RMSS, RMP&FS, RM Fleet, RM Eng, RMCE etc.,) will be launched.
  • In preparation for national roll out the RM Project Team have set up and put in place a new ‘Share Point Site’ and LFD Test Kit ordering and recording process. Managers are being briefed on the Share Point Site plus the Test Kit ordering and recording process.
  • The participating CWU members will be provided with their test kit packs at work to take home and self-test at their convenience, in the privacy of their own homes and the ‘rapid’ Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits give a result in 30 minutes. Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and University of Oxford show Lateral Flow Tests are sensitive and accurate enough to be used for identifying ‘asymptomatic’ and ‘pre-symptomatic’ people – those infected with the virus but showing no symptoms and who can spread the virus. To reiterate the important point, the Government’s chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor estimate 1 in 3 people who are infected with Covid-19 do not have symptoms.
  • There is an instruction video that’s available in workplaces and via ‘myroyalmail’ for members to watch on how the test is done and instructions showing the simple test process which is very easy to perform.
  • All staff will see a joint letter signed by myself (Dave Joyce CWU National Health, Safety & Environment Officer) on behalf of CWU and signed by Shaun Davis Royal Mail Global Director Safety, Health, Environment, Compliance & Sustainability (see copy attached).
  • There is also a Poster to be displayed (see copy attached). A joint RMTV Interview has been recorded featuring myself (Dave Joyce CWU National Health, Safety & Environment Officer), Gary Sassoon- Hales, Unite/CMA National Committee and RMG Global Safety, Health, Environment, Compliance and Sustainability Director Shaun Davis. This will be launched Friday 7 May.
  • Attached are the two WTLL/Staff Briefs that will be delivered in all workplace units and offices, and this week a Royal Mail ‘In Ops’ article (TWIO) has gone out on 5 May to all managers with the same article appearing in the Parcelforce weekly newsletter.  The WTLL/Staff Briefings will be delivered to front line employees next week, and the second will be briefed once the Unit Manager has completed their training which should be completed this week.

The workforce home testing scheme is in addition to the Covid-Secure controls of following the basic ‘Hands – Face – Space’ rules, e.g., washing and sanitising hands regularly, wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing and ensuring high levels of cleaning in the workplace, vehicles and equipment, good ventilation and fresh air wherever and whenever possible.

The CWU is very strongly supporting Covid-19 Workforce Testing and we need the help and support of every CWU Rep at all levels to encourage our members to participate and take up the testing option which is a positive benefit to all our members. Participation is voluntary.

The CWU also encourages all our members to get vaccinated when the opportunity and offer arises. Again however, participation is voluntary and we must recognise that some individuals do have valid genuine medical reasons why they cannot take the vaccine.

Royal Mail and CWU are pleased to be working with the Government to deliver a workforce home testing programme. Participation in this is voluntary and is fully supported by Royal Mail, Parcelforce, CWU/HQ and Unite/CMA HQ. We want every member to take part in regular Lateral Flow Testing to help prevent the spread of Covid-19

Attachments:

  • Copy of the Royal Mail/CWU/Unite CMA Joint Letter to All Employees – ‘Coronavirus/ Covid-19 – Rapid Workforce Testing – We Need Your Support!
  • Copy of the Royal Mail/CWU/Unite CMA Joint Coronavirus/Covid-19 – Workforce Lateral Flow Testing Poster
  • Copy of two RMG/CWU/Unite CMA Covid-19 WTLL/Briefings on the Lateral Flow Device Home Self Testing Scheme
  • Copy of the Royal Mail ‘In Ops’/Parcelforce Newsletter Management Article (TWIO) on the Employees LFD Home Testing Scheme

Enquiries:

All enquiries should be directed to either Dave Joyce CWU/HQ Health, Safety & Environment Department.

Can I thank you all in anticipation for your important support.

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

21LTB183 National Roll Out of Coronavirus Covid-19 – LFD Workforce Testing in Royal Mail Group

Coronavirus Covid-19 – Rapid Workforce Testing We Need Your Support!v…

Covid 19 Workforce Mass Testing Poster National v3

Covid 19 LFD Home Self Testing Initial Brief

Covid 19 LFD Home Self Testing 2nd Brief

LFD TWIO v1

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PATHWAY TO CHANGE – TRIAL AND DEPLOYMENT OF NEW METHODS, TECHNOLOGY AND AUTOMATION

PATHWAY TO CHANGE – TRIAL AND DEPLOYMENT OF NEW METHODS, TECHNOLOGY AND AUTOMATION

Branches will be aware that Section 2.8 of the Pathway to Change CWU/RMG Relationship – Working Together committed both parties to update the current national trial Agreement(s).  The specific aim of this exercise was for the existing National Generic Trial and National Deployment Frameworks that formed Annex A and B respectively of the Business Transformation 2010 Agreement (copies attached) to reflect the principles detailed in the Pathway to Change Agreement.

Branches will also be aware that since their inception, the two interrelated agreements have both stood the test of time, having been extensively applied to trials of various working methods, new equipment and technology across all functions and workplaces that make up the operational network.

Following the endorsement by the Postal Executive of the Joint Statement reached in July 2020, the business tabled a line of sight document in the subsequent negotiations.  In this document Royal Mail detailed their desired position to help deliver the company’s change agenda and while not representing detailed proposals, line of sight gave a clear indication on how the business viewed their relationship with the CWU and the role of the Union in the workplace.  One of the areas covered in line of sight was headed Trials and Technology Process and it was evident that the company was intent on introducing a new process to replace the existing agreements for all trials, technology and automation.  Additionally:

  • Royal Mail would assess the need for a trial to be conducted and advise the CWU of the aims and objectives in the format of Standard Operating Procedures.
  • Discuss at national level the aims and objective of carrying out the trial.
  • When a trial is required, Royal Mail will advise the CWU of the location and various assessments i.e. earnings, operational impact, attendances, Health and Safety etc.
  • Where Royal Mail concludes trials have been successful and a decision is taken to deploy the changes and equipment, this will be carried out in line with the Deployment Framework and implemented as soon as possible.
  • Royal Mail acknowledged that with the above approach any changes initiated from the trial activity to employees’ terms and conditions will require negotiations with the CWU.
  • Where appropriate, changes from the trials may still need to be progressed through the DRP process.

Clearly the ambition and desire of the business was not one of mutual interest and would effectively have meant the Union had no proactive or meaningful role in trial activity going forward.  In effect the only role the Union would play was when a terms and conditions issue came to the fore or when the company thought it appropriate to apply the Dispute Resolution Process (DRP).

During the following negotiations this approach was rejected and Branches will no doubt acknowledge that the final wording in Section 2.8 of the Pathway to Change protected and enhanced the role of the Union for both trial and deployment activity whilst allowing for further discussions to update the agreements.

These negotiations have been ongoing and I am pleased to report that at a meeting on 29th April 2021 the Postal Executive unanimously endorsed the attached revised new Generic Trial and Deployment Framework Agreements.  These agreements are a long way from what management originally intended and have built upon and strengthened the original trial agreements.

Branches will note that the Union is now involved prior to a business case even being put to the Board i.e. before investment has been committed.  Equally under Trial, Branches will note that the agreement now states ‘when the trial is agreed’ as opposed to the previous agreement that said ‘when a trial is required’.  In respect of deployment, we have also added additional words to cover off the possible scenario of where a trial is based on doing one thing but the business go beyond the trial objectives when they deploy, this is now covered by ‘Any subsequent disagreements on the method or usage of technology proposed will be resolved through the Dispute Resolution Procedures’.

In respect of the Deployment Document, there is little change albeit that the changes are important.  For example, under Deployment Program the agreement now states ‘agreed guidelines’ and under Local Involvement now reads ‘local agreement’ prior to implementation rather than ‘local discussion’ in the previous agreement.

Branches will see that these redrafts mirror the commitments made in the Pathway to Change Agreement and this is further evidence of what can be achieved when both parties adopt a mutual interest approach to concluding agreements.

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 182/21 – PATHWAY TO CHANGE – TRIAL AND DEPLOYMENT OF NEW METHODS, TECHNOLOGY AND AUTOMATION

Attachment 1 to LTB 182-21        

Attachment 2 to LTB 182-21

Attachment 3 to LTB 182-21

Attachment 4 to LTB 182-21

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The Criminal Law Dealing with Dangerous Dogs” – Scottish Government – Dog Control Laws Consultation – Response of the Communication Workers Union & UK Dog Law Implications

“The Criminal Law Dealing with Dangerous Dogs” – Scottish Government – Dog Control Laws Consultation – Response of the Communication Workers Union & UK Dog Law Implications:

This report is being issued further to LTBs 055/21014/21536/20568/19553/19 and 444/19.

Branches and Regions will be aware of the Health, Safety & Environment Department’s concerted lobbying of the Scottish Government, calling for a review of Dog Control Laws in Scotland and its enforcement.

Update reports have also been given to the RMG/CWU/Unite CMA National Joint Dog Awareness Working Group.

The re-launched ‘Bite-Back’ campaign in Scotland resulted in winning the support of all political parties from which, a Motion tabled by Scottish Nationalist Government backbenchers was supported by all parties (SNP, Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Greens) and was carried unanimously in the Scottish Parliament.

This in turn led to a formal inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post Legislative Scrutiny (PAPLS) Committee which produced a report consisting of 31 recommendations with key findings which supported the CWU campaign objectives.

The Scottish Government’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee concluded that:

  • The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 has had limited effect in preventing or reducing the number of dog attacks in Scotland.
  • The current dog control law is not fit for purpose.
  • The Scottish Government undertakes a comprehensive review of all dog control legislation without delay, with a view to introducing modernised, fit for purpose, consolidated dog control legislation.
  • In the interim, the Scottish Government should improve the implementation of the 2010 Act.
  • 31 Recommendations were made in the Inquiry Report.

The Minister for Public Safety Ash Denham gave an assurance to the Parliament and the PAPLS Committee to meet me on behalf of the CWU. Following the PAPLS Report and Parliamentary debate, two meeting with the Minister took place in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh with the Scottish Government Minister Ash Denham (Minister for Community Safety) and Jim Wilson Scottish Government Justice Directorate/Head of Communities and Public Services to discuss dog control and the dialogue with Government officials has continued.

Both Ash Denham and Jim Wilson reiterated and emphasised that the Scottish Government is committed to responsible dog ownership to help keep communities safe. Jim Wilson has subsequently stayed in contact with CWU/HQ and monthly update calls have taken place.

Assurances have been received that the deficiencies in Scotland’s dog control laws, as set out in the PAPLS report and the detailed submissions of the CWU were fully recognised and would be addressed.

At the launch of this public consultation the Minister for Community Safety said “We are determined to keep Scotland’s communities safe from these irresponsible owners and their dangerously out of control dogs. This new review is focused on steps that might be taken to improve how the criminal law deals with individuals whose dogs pose a danger to the public.”

Following an earlier consultation in 2020, the Scottish Government published updated statutory guidance in respect of the operation of the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 and the use of Dog Control Notices which is helpful. (See LTB 014/21).

The second consultation promised by the Minister and by far the more important one was published on the 5 February and this deals with the central, key issues that we have highlighted as needing amendments to the criminal law dealing with dangerous dogs.

Section 3 of the 1991 Act deals with threatening behaviour or attacks by any type of dog. It provides that, if a dog is dangerously out of control in any place (whether or not a public place), the owner (or if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog) is guilty of an offence. This offence is aggravated if the dog injures a person whilst out of control.

Section 10(3) provides a definition of “dangerously out of control” and states that a dog can be regarded as being dangerously out of control if there are grounds for ‘reasonable apprehension’ that it will injure a person, whether or not it actually does.

The Consultation centres on three key areas of the law asking three main questions;

Firstly, the Consultation explains that Scotland has taken a different approach to the statutory interpretation of the section 3 offence (dangerously out of control) as compared with England, Wales & N.I. and section 10.3 (reasonable apprehension) and points out that Scottish courts’ interpretation of the law (and indeed the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service – COPFS) means that prior actions of the dog (bites, attacks, aggression) and the fact that the owner knew about them was required (in Scotland) to be established in order for an offence to be prosecuted, committed and convicted. (This has led to the unwritten “One Free Bite” Rule).

As such the Consultation Paper acknowledges fully the points we have been arguing strongly and notes that the existence of this requirement as part of the offence can prove to be a difficult evidential hurdle, as the Police and prosecutors are required to carry out inquiries into the previous behaviour of the dog and the knowledge held by the dog owner/person in charge of the dog. This results in many prosecutions not being proceeded with and convictions not being secured – regardlessof any injury (or death for that matter) suffered as a result of a dog attack. Criminal law in Scotland requires ‘corroboration’ of the essential elements of a criminal offence.

Interestingly, the Consultation Paper lists example cases tried in the courts of Scotland in comparison with similar cases tried in the courts in England and Wales which were interpreted quite differently.

The Consultation was set up to seek views on possible revised approaches to dog control criminal law with three main questions central to the Consultation:

Question 1 – Should the law place an absolute (strict) responsibility on dog owners as to the behaviour of their dogs?

This is a position that the CWU has strongly argued in favour of as opposed to staying as it is now in Scotland where the law and prosecutors requiring evidence that there was some knowledge on the part of the dog owner or person in charge of a dog that the dog would act in a dangerously out of control manner and evidence of past incidents, attacks, aggression etc., (Re: the ‘One Free Bite Rule’).

Question 2 – Should there be more effective powers for ‘seizure of dangerous dogs’ by Police and Dog Wardens?

Presently the Police have to secure either a time consuming Court Order or Warrant to seize and make safe a dangerously aggressive animal that may have been involved in serious attacks and Local Authority Dog Wardens or Officials have no seizure powers at all. The CWU has consistently supported strengthening dog seizure powers.

Question 3 – Asks if the current complex and numerous pieces of separate Dog Control Laws should be consolidated and again the CWU has supported this from day one of the ‘Bite-Back’ Campaign.

  • See attached copy of: Scottish Government Dog Control Laws Consultation – “The Criminal Law Dealing with Dangerous Dogs” – Response of the Communication Workers Union.

The 10 page CWU response goes into detail covering the Union’s current views on the Criminal Law dealing with dangerous dogs, its shortcomings and areas needing change, both the law and its enforcement. The Introduction sets out the Union’s role and our membership being by far the largest group of victims in the UK and as such the nation’s biggest stakeholder.  There then follows sections on:

  • Introduction
  • Dog Attacks on Postal Workers
  • The Dog Control Laws Consultations
  • Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny (PAPLS) Committee Inquiry
  • PAPLS Committee Report Key Findings
  • Key Changes Required to Dog Control Laws (21 points from CWU)
  • Postal Worker Example Cases
  • Overview on why the Dog Control Laws and enforcement have been a complete failure and labelled a ‘National Crisis’ by the PAPLS Committee (37 points from CWU)
  • Consultation Questions and CWU response
  • Graphic Images of Postal Workers injured in Dog Attacks

UK Dog Control Law Implications

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and its amending legislation was of course dealt with by the UK Government in Westminster. Therefore, the action being considered positively in Scotland has implications for Central Government and the Union wants change across the UK. In Westminster there have been two EFRA Parliamentary Select Committee Enquiries (with oral and written evidence from the CWU) and the DEFRA Ministry in 2018 commissioned research by Middlesex University to look into the Dog Control Law. That research is only just reaching a conclusion and final publication will be in mid-2021. It was back in June 2018 when I gave evidence to the last EFRA Select Committee Inquiry into Dangerous Dogs Law and little has changed for the better. In fact, in many respects the situation has got worse! A detailed letter has therefore been sent to the DEFRA Secretary of State and Minister of State plus the Chair and members of the DEFRA Select Committee, setting out the below points;

We in CWU and Royal Mail continue to experience difficulties with (a) Failure of Crown Court Judges and Magistrates to understand the law and continual misinterpretation of the law particularly in relation to dog bites through the letter box where they wrongly try to apply ‘Regina v RobinsonPierre [2013]’ or ‘The Householders Defence’.

Postal Workers are frequently attacked by dogs through letterboxes (over 1000 attacks in the last 5 years) often with devastating consequences. Many have lost one or more fingers whilst undertaking this important public service.

The absurd situation is that whilst the majority of ‘finger through the letterbox bite cases’ coming before the Courts result in defendants pleading guilty and being convicted for this, in other locations we have had judges wrongly throw the cases out of court before even hearing the case.

Royal Mail Group solicitors have taken one of these cases to the Appeal Court and won with the High Court judge instructing the Crown Court to reinstate the case and proceed to trial.

A second Appeal against a Magistrate’s decision to throw out a case is also going to appeal.

The irony of all this is that when the legislation went through Parliament, the Minister made it crystal clear that dog bites through the letter box are an aggravated S3 DDA Offence.

To be clear – the trespasser defence does not apply to hands through letter boxes, but because of the courts getting this wrong, we have asked in Scotland and it’s needed in Westminster, that the law states that ‘postal workers be excluded from the Householder Defence in this regard.’

Any definition should capture the situation where persons are bitten when legitimately posting through letterboxes. Postmen and women are frequently attacked by dogs through letterboxes often with devastating consequences. Many have lost one or more fingers.

It is unclear to members of the public whether the act of a postal worker’s fingers crossing the threshold of a building to post an item through a letterbox is a trespass. In a number of cases brought by Royal Mail in courts in England and Wales, defence lawyers have sought to rely on the ‘Householder Defence’ to avoid liability. We therefore need the Government to protect postal workers by ‘specifically’ excluding such cases from the ‘Householder Defence’ when they are acting in their postal services act, postal worker capacity. Such steps will make it clear to householders that they must take steps to prevent dogs biting through letterboxes, e.g., by fitting a letterbox cage or keeping the dog away from the front door.

In the case of Regina v Robinson-Pierre (2014) 1 Cr.App.R. 22. The court considered whether the unforeseen act of a third-party vitiated the offence. The case involved the deliberate unforeseen action of a third party (the Police executing a warrant) who were the sole cause of the dog’s escape following which it attacked and badly injured them. The unforeseen action was the officers breaking down the door to execute a search warrant.

The unique circumstances of that case added further considerations to the already difficult statutory formulation. The court held that “S3(1) requires there to be an act or omission of the defendant (with or without fault) that to some (more than minimal) degree caused or permitted the prohibited state of affairs to come about”.

Therefore, the question for the court is therefore not whether the consequences ought to have been foreseen by the defendant, but rather, it is whether the defendant caused the prohibited state of affairs to exist.

This complex interpretation has led to unjust consequences. In R v Mooney (heard on the 15th and 16th November 2017 in the Crown Case sitting in Liverpool), a postman’s finger was bitten off by a dog through a letterbox by Mooney’s dog. The defendant admitted that the dog would often attack the letterbox and snatch the mail from the letterbox as it was posted through. The owner had failed to take any steps to prevent this from happening. However – seeking to apply Robinson-Pierre, the Judge considered that ‘because the dog did not bark at the time of the attack’ (some dogs do bark in fact and many do not before attacking), the owner was not alerted to the fact the dog was out of control’. As a result of this perverse judgement, the court wrongly dismissed the charges before the trial jury could consider the case. The Judge got it totally wrong and this is an unacceptable conclusion.

S10(3) is in need of amendment as the courts struggle with the interpretation of the “reasonable apprehension” clause. In Section 10 (3) – the problem is that this section, for a prosecution to be successful, the person responsible for the dog must have had “reasonable apprehension” that the dog might attack. This is a higher bar to clear than section 1 of the DDA (where a dog has to be of one of the banned breeds) and has become much more so as courts have progressively raised the level of proof required for “reasonable apprehension”. Scottish courts have interpreted “reasonable apprehension” to mean that the dog must have previously attacked someone. This is known as the unwritten ‘One Free Bite’ rule. Further, if the dog is passed to a new owner, then the dog is allowed another ‘One Free Bite’ due to this interpretation of “reasonable apprehension”. This is absolutely absurd.

Imagine a situation of a dangerous driver causing the death of a pedestrian but the offender being let off because firstly he hadn’t done it previously (‘One-Free-Bite’) and secondly, he had no reasonable apprehension that he would run a pedestrian down despite driving without care and attention at high speed!

Owning or being in charge of a dog is a choice that comes with significant responsibility and owners must take this responsibility seriously and take necessary steps to protect others.

Lack of enforcement by the Police and CPS (COPFS in Scotland) is also a major, major ongoing concern. Serious aggravated S3 offences with dogs attacking our members and causing major, severe injuries are ignored by a number of Police forces who flatly refuse to prosecute and simply inappropriately dispose of the cases with warnings or informal resolutions. As a result, Royal Mail Group is having to take out around 15 private prosecutions a year through the courts (cases the Police and CPS should be taking). Virtually all of them result in conviction. Most plead guilty!

The courts are also not handing down appropriately tough penalties and are inconsistent with sentencing in the majority of cases which adds insult to injury.

As we in CWU and Royal Mail Group say – the law should be clear and strict liability/absolute responsibility on dog owners as to the behaviour of their dogs with the focus on the dog owners/person in charge constantly risk assessing danger. There are already checks and balances in place for the CPDS, PF and courts to manage what are seen as unintended consequences e.g., ’not in the public interest to prosecute’ the owner of a dog if a burglar breaks into a garden shed being attacked by their dog or if a dog owner is subject to an unprovoked attack in the street and the dog responds to protect the owner. There is no need to complicate the law. It should be clear for everyone to understand.

The law should start with a presumption that any dog may bite and place a positive duty on owners or persons in charge of dogs to take reasonable steps to ensure the dog does not cause injury to anyone (whether or not it actually does so). It should be clear that the Act places an evidential burden on the dog owner to consider what could reasonably happen and that it does not matter that the dog has never shown a propensity to bite before.

The burden of proving “reasonable steps” should be placed upon the owner/person in charge at the time. The reasonable steps should be judged objectively according to the circumstances including, but not limited to, the type of dog, size and strength of the dog, the breed of dog, the age and suitability of the defendant and where the incident occurred. For example, it may be reasonable for an experienced owner to allow a Jack Russell to run around an empty field off a lead without a muzzle at 7am; however, it may not be reasonable for an experienced owner to allow the same dog to run around off a lead without a muzzle in a park on a sunny bank holiday where a number of children are playing. It should be clear that it does not matter that the dog has never shown a propensity to bite before. Both the owner and person in charge (if different) may be prosecuted for the same incident.

In a case from 1993, the Court of Appeal for England and Wales made it clear that the DDA imposed absolute liability upon the owner or the person for the time being in charge of a dog regardless of whether the dog had shown a tendency to be aggressive in the past. The court said:

“It is no defence that the owner had no realisation that his dog might behave in such a way and that it was for the owner to ensure that it did not do so”.

It went on:

“It is urged [by the defence] that an owner may have no realisation that his dog is liable to behave in a way which will cause injury to anyone until, for example, a child pokes the dog with a stick and the dog reacts. That, indeed, may be the case. But it seems to us that Parliament was entitled to do what in this piece of legislation we find that it has done, namely to put the onus on the owner to ensure, if that is likely to happen, that he takes steps which are effective to ensure that it does not, either by keeping the dog on a lead or keeping the child away from the dog or whatever may be appropriate in the circumstances”.

Key points:

  • Out of control dogs remain a significant risk to postmen and women and the communities Royal Mail and Parcelforce (RM Group) serve.
  • In our experience, the Police and CPS are failing badly in their duty to enforce the law.
  • The courts are struggling to understand and apply the law correctly.
  • Hence our support for the reform of DDA Section 10 (3), placing an absolute responsibility on dog owners as to the behaviour of their dogs.
  • We also support a strengthening of Police and local authority powers to seize dogs.
  • We support consolidation of existing legislation.

Out of control dogs pose a daily risk to the safety of postmen and women. Dog attacks are a significant hazard faced by postmen and women on a daily basis. Approximately seven postmen and women are attacked by dogs every working day of the year across the UK. Some attacks lead to a permanent disabling injury or months of surgery and rehabilitation. While we are lucky not to have had an employee killed by a dog, a number of attacks have been extremely serious with life-changing consequences.

The growth in online deliveries has greatly increased the number of deliveries that can only be made if someone is present to open the door and receive the package. This increases the risk of this type of dog attack. This can be minimised by responsible owners taking some simple, practical steps such as keeping their dog in another room when answering the door. Don’t let children open the door with a dog running loose in the house. Fit a letterbox cage to collect mail and protect postal workers’ fingers.

In respect of the location of dog attacks on postmen and women; typical attacks include bites on fingers through letter boxes, attacks by dogs loose on property (e.g., front gardens and driveways) and attacks when recipients open front doors to meet a postal worker seeking a signature or seeking to deliver a package too large for the letter box. It is notable that the growth in deliveries of items ordered on the internet has greatly increased the number of deliveries which can only be made if someone is present to open the door and receive the package82% of the attacks occur at the front door or on the garden path to the door.

With regard to the types of injury; the injuries sustained by postal workers vary in degree from relatively minor injuries, such as scratches, to very serious attacks causing major wounds, disfigurement, mutilation and employees left with life changing injuries. The injuries suffered include loss of fingers; severe injuries to legs, arms and the face; and the need for skin grafts and plastic surgery. Months of rehabilitation often follow.

In two of our more serious incidents, both similar, the postman was mauled by two large dogs (Pit Bull Terriers in one case and Rottweilers in the other) which had escaped from an insecure property and launched their attacks. Both postmen suffered serious leg, arm and chest injuries and lost a significant amount of blood. They were both in intensive care for a period. Both nearly lost an arm. They were left with permanent scarring and on-going physical impairment and mental health problems.

In a third case a small postwoman could have been killed when attacked by two Dobermans, suffering serious injuries.  The attack was only stopped by the intervention of the owner who managed to drag the dogs off just in time.

We support the suggestion to consolidate existing legislation in to one simplified Act that is fit for purpose. This would make it easier to prosecute.

We are keen to continue working with the Governments of the UK to promote responsible dog ownership and ensure dog control law is fit for purpose. The CWU ‘Bite-Back’ Campaign continues.

Any enquiries should be addressed to Dave Joyce CWU/HQ Health Safety & Environment Department.

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

LTB 181/21 – The Criminal Law Dealing with Dangerous Dogs – Scottish Government – Dog Control Laws Consultation – Response of the Communication Workers Union

Scot.Gov.Consultation.Criminal.Law.Dangerous.Dogs-CWU Response-April 202…

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