Latest from the Branch

Protecting Mental Health in the Workplace – TUC Webinar – Tuesday 26 October 2021, 1pm – 2pm

Protecting Mental Health in the Workplace – TUC Webinar – Tuesday 26 October 2021, 1pm – 2pm

This is a final reminder regarding today’s TUC short Webinar event ‘Protecting mental health in the workplace’.

This is an increasingly important issue for Trade Unions and employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees.

This free event is open for Trade Union Safety Reps and other Reps to hear the two speakers and join a discussion with speakers Peter Kelly, Senior Psychologist at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Quinn Roache, TUC Policy Officer for Disability and LGBT+ Equality, who will discuss what action employees should expect from their employers to prevent work related stress and promote the mental wellbeing of all staff in and around the workplace.

Any questions for the speakers should be posted in the ‘Ask a Question’ box.

Registration For The Event is at this link: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/protecting-mental-health/register

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

LTB 453/21 – Protecting Mental Health in the Workplace – TUC Webinar – Tuesday 26 October 2021, 1pm – 2pm

View Online

ROYAL MAIL: PATHWAY TO CHANGE AGREEMENT – MDEC CLOSURE PROGRAMME

ROYAL MAIL: PATHWAY TO CHANGE AGREEMENT – MDEC CLOSURE PROGRAMME

Further to LTBs 225/21 dated 2ndJune and 266/21 dated 28th June.

We have continued to hold regular discussions with management and specifically we have reviewed bumping opportunities for the members that remain as unresolved surplus within the MDEC units in Farnworth, Plymouth and Stoke.  In this regard, I am pleased to report a significant development.  Essentially new work has been identified relating to Brexit and involves keying CN22 (Postal Customs Declarations) by confirming and typing what is seen on the screen.  Whilst it is unclear on the volumes at this stage, it is hoped there will be opportunities for c.40 former MDEC keyers to perform this work, primarily in Farnworth, although some work may be incorporated into the Plymouth operation.

Due to the EU requirements, the timescales on training for our members and the deployment of this work is tight and we also need to jointly work on duty patterns to ensure fair and reasonable attendances whilst incorporating weekend working where necessary.  In this regard I’m grateful to both Steve Halliwell and Saf Khan, Postal Executive members, and Jayne Crolla, Area Admin Rep, who will be working on these activities with Wyatt Walsworth, Head of MDEC and the unit managers to ensure the most suitable outcomes for our members.

The above has been reported to the Postal Executive today and a Joint Statement (attached) has been agreed.  In terms of next steps, a further preference exercise will take place in Farnworth.  Obviously this is good news for those who would otherwise be on the surplus list.

Further developments will be reported.

Yours sincerely

Andy Furey

Assistant Secretary

LTB 452/21 – Royal Mail – Pathway to Change Agreement – MDEC Closure Programme

Att: Joint Statement

View Online

Rivus Fleet Solutions Garage Network CWU National Team Election

Rivus Fleet Solutions Garage Network CWU National Team Election

Following the publication of LTB 447/21, we have been advised that Ashley Stuart has withdrawn from the Rivus Fleet Solutions NT election.  This means that an election is no longer necessary.

The following people will therefore be the Rivus Fleet Solutions National Team for their two year period of office.

Rivus Fleet Garage Network Representative Name

BranchChris EvansGreater Mersey and South West LancsElectedSteve PhillipsCentral Counties and Thames ValleyElected

 Rivus Fleet Solutions Support Centre Representative

NamesBranch Samantha HamiltonMidland No.1Elected

The Executive member on the team will be Kate Walsh.

Yours sincerely

Allan Eldred

Assistant Secretary

LTB 451/21 – Rivus Fleet Solutions Garage Network CWU National Team Election

View Online

ROYAL MAIL: CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – AGREED INCREASE TO RESOURCING LEVELS

ROYAL MAIL: CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE – AGREED INCREASE TO RESOURCING LEVELS

Branches will be aware, in conjunction with our Senior Customer Experience Reps, we regularly monitor the resourcing arrangements within CE and engage in national negotiations as appropriate.  To this end, with the introduction of extended opening hours coupled with increasing volumes of customer enquiries, we have agreed with CE that there should be an increase to the overall template as follows

  • 60 New Recruits to commence in the New Year
  • 18 current temporary contract workers to be made permanent (these are the longest serving people and following this activity nobody left on a temporary contract will have more than 6 months service)

This is clearly a positive development and will have benefits on the wider membership as a total of 78 new permanent advisors will relieve some of the pressure felt in respect of workload and will crucially help to reduce queuing times, resulting in a better experience for the customer.

This development is being reported via the attached Joint Statement.

If you have any questions in relation to this LTB, please contact Lea Sheridan – lsheridan@cwu.org.

Yours sincerely

Andy Furey                             

Assistant Secretary       

LTB 443/21 – Royal Mail – Customer Experience – Agreed Increase to Resourcing Levels 

Attachment: Joint Statement

View Online

Royal Mail Group (Royal Mail & Parcelforce) – Lifting of Covid-19 Secure Restrictions and Re-Introduction of Standard Operating Procedures/Business As Usual (SOP/BAU) – ‘Coronavirus Test Kits Collections Over-Bagging’

Royal Mail Group (Royal Mail & Parcelforce) – Lifting of Covid-19 Secure Restrictions and Re-Introduction of Standard Operating Procedures/Business As Usual (SOP/BAU) – ‘Coronavirus Test Kits Collections Over-Bagging’

This LTB is being issued further to LTB No. 436/2021 issued on 12 October 2021 and LTB No. 420/21 issued on 5 October 2021. This should be read in conjunction with those LTBs and is a further update for Branches to provide clarification and to assist local discussions facilitating progression back to standard operating procedure and business as usual, through the agreed, cautious lifting of Covid-secure restrictions.

The attached Royal Mail Group communications, briefing document, Risk Assessment and Safe Systems of Work are being published and issued this week to give further definitive guidance to Managers confirming the following.

In line with the communications released by Royal Mail Group on 8th October 2021 and after careful consideration and review of safety documentation, in consultation with DHSC (Department for Health and Social Care) and HSA (Health Security Agency) – see attached letter. Royal Mail and CWU have agreed that it is no longer necessary to over-bag correctly packaged test kits following the lifting in Government Covid restrictions. Therefore, from Monday 18th October the requirement for over-bagging of test kits will be removed by Royal Mail.

The original risk assessment has been reviewed from which there are three key factors;

  • Firstly, the DHSC and HSA medical and scientific experts state that over-bagging is unnecessary.
  • Secondly, we are informed that less than 5% of the samples test positive.
  • Thirdly, the packaging of the Test Kits meets the international UN3373 Transport Packaging standard for biological/pathological diagnostic samples including Covid-19 for sending via the post and the this includes ‘three layers’.

Royal Mail has been a key player in the collection and delivery of Covid19 test kits on behalf of the nation since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Many aspects of the coronavirus were still unknown when the national testing programme was introduced and as an added protection measure and for workforce reassurance, a polybag, over-bagging process was introduced on collections to mitigate any potential and perceived risks associated with carrying test kits. At that time, the benefits of the polybag process outweighed other issues such as the impact on processing time at the laboratory and the environmental impact of using single-use plastic for each test kit.

Whilst the polybag process has been amended, collections, processing and delivery staff can wear disposable gloves to handle test kits if they prefer to use them and feel more comfortable doing so but this is not mandatory. This is recommended for staff that have not been vaccinated or are clinically vulnerable. All staff should however maintain good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently and using hand sanitiser where washing facilities are not available. NOTE: Any damaged or incorrectly packaged kits should still be over-bagged.

In summary, the following standards must be adhered to:

  • From this week, polybags are no longer required for Covid19 test kits to be ‘over-bagged’ and a new Safe System of Work has been issued to reflect this.
  • As with all collection, delivery and processing work it is important to maintain good hygiene by more frequently washing hands with soap and water or use sanitiser, especially before eating, drinking, touching the face or after coughing.
  • Polybags will continue to be available for use across the whole pipeline in case of damaged or incorrectly packaged items, but there is no longer a general requirement to poly-bag test kits when clearing a post-box of these items.
  • Gloves are readily available for handling the test kits if staff prefer to use them.

Attachments:

  • Changes to Coronavirus Test Kit Collections – Message from Dr Shaun Davis RMG Global Director Compliance & Sustainability – 18 October 2021
  • Relaxation of Polybag Requirements for CV19 Test Kits – RM Communication to all Collection, Processing and Distribution staff – October 2021
  • Royal Mail & Parcelforce – Royal Mail Group Safety Health & Environment ‘Huddle’ FY21 034 – Collection of Test Kits – Employees who collect Coronavirus test kits. 18 October 2021
  • RMG SHE SAC1 – Delivery, Collection and Processing of Coronavirus PCR Test Kits between customers and laboratories for analysis review – Oct 2021
  • RMG (RM & PFWW) – COVID-19 test kit mailings Processing (Royal Mail Operations SSOW) V2.3
  • RMG (RM & PFWW) – COVID-19 test kit mailings Delivery and Collections (Royal Mail Operations SSOW) V3.7
  • Letter from DHSC & HSA regarding no need for Royal Mail Poly Over-Bag Test Kits dated 22 October 2021.

Yours Sincerely

Dave Joyce

National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

Mark Baulch

Assistant Secretary

Outdoor Department

Davie Robertson

Assistant Secretary 

Processing, Logistics, Parcelforce, International, Quadrant Department

LTB 450/21 – Lifting of Covid-19 Secure Restrictions

Att: Changes to Coronavirus Test Kit Collections Message From Dr Shaun Davis 18.10.21

Att: Coronavirus Testing Kits SAC1 Review Oct 2021

Att: COVID 19 Test Kit SSOW Deliveries and Collections Oct 2021v2

Att: COVID 19 test kit SSOW Processing Oct 2021v2

Att: Letter From DHSC & HSA on No Need For Royal Mail Test Kit Poly Over Bags…

Att: Relaxation of Polybag Usage Brief Oct 2021 v0.4

Att: SHE Huddle FY21 034 Collection of Test Kits

View Online

POST OFFICE: CROWN VR PROGRAMME – PHASE 3

POST OFFICE: CROWN VR PROGRAMME – PHASE 3

Further to LTB 361/21 dated 31stAugust.

Branches are advised that face to face negotiations were held with Post Office management on 12thOctober in Wimbledon in respect of Phase 3 of the Crown Office VR Programme and we have now agreed there will be a further 13 VR offers.  We naturally took into consideration those Crowns with high levels of customer decline.  Also, as was the case previously, in line with MTSF those members selected for VR from each Crown are without exception the most senior applicants.

During our negotiations, management advised us that some Crowns were holding vacancies that had been lapsed due to the ongoing decline in customer footfall.  Accordingly these vacant hours have been removed in line with MTSF as part of the overall VR/headcount reduction exercise.  If all members in Phase 3 accept their VR offer, in total the headcount reduction will be 117, which is a mixture of VR offers and the cessation of vacancies.  This means we have broadly achieved the agreed c.120 headcount savings and both parties are satisfied we have reached a positive conclusion to these negotiations.  As a consequence we are not anticipating or expecting any more VR offers at this stage.

The following Joint Statement has been agreed:

Voluntary Redundancy: Phase 3 Update

 Following the Joint Statement on 31st August we wish to provide you with a further update regarding voluntary redundancy offers and the cessation of vacancies.  

 New Voluntary Redundancy Offers

We have jointly reviewed next steps and as a result we have agreed to make further VR offers to 13 individuals. As was the case previously, in line with MTSF those selected for VR are without exception the most senior applicants.  Over the two previous phases we have made a total of 65 VR offers from 37 branches.  The new offers will be sent out to individuals via email to the address they stated on their preference form by 2pm on Friday 22nd October. The last day of service for the individuals accepting a VR offer will be 9th January and new duties will now be designed to go live from Monday 10th January. 

Cessation of Vacancies within the Branch

 As part of the overall review it was highlighted that in some branches there were also a number of vacancies that had not been filled due to customer decline.  In those branches where we needed to reduce hourage, we also took into consideration those vacant hours as part of the headcount reduction exercise.  This approach was necessary as the MTSF agreement, stipulates the cessation of any vacant hours as a priority over VR’s.

If all individuals in phase 3 accept their VR offer, then in total we will have reduced overall headcount across the network by 117, via a mixture of VR offers and the cessation of vacancies across 61 branches.  Therefore we are not anticipating any more offers to be made after this phase, however we will continue to jointly monitory the ongoing situation and will update you if we plan any further changes.  

We are committed to meeting on a regular basis to discuss progress and operational factors such as duty reviews. For those that have recently had new duties introduced, or are about to, we thank you for your support and cooperation in helping to deliver these changes. If you have any further questions, we would encourage you to contact either your line manager or CWU Rep.

Steve Blampied                                                          

Head of Directly Managed Branch Network        

Andy Furey

CWU Assistant Secretary 

Details of the arrangements above have been shared with our full-time Reps who will now get into local negotiations in respect of duty construction for new duties to be introduced simultaneously to the VRs in Phase 3.

Further developments will be reported.

Yours sincerely

Andy Furey

Assistant Secretary

LTB 449/21 – Post Office – Crown VR Programme – Phase 3

View Online

Royal Mail Property & Facility Solutions – Election of: 3 Regional Cleaning Representatives – North, East & West Regions 1 National Cleaning Representative

Royal Mail Property & Facility Solutions – Election of:

  • 3 Regional Cleaning Representatives – North, East & West Regions
  • 1 National Cleaning Representative

The term of office for all these positions is a period of 2 years in line with the CWU Recognition & Industrial Framework Agreement 2021.

A Nomination Form for all positions is attached to this LTB and are available on request from the Senior Deputy General Secretary’s Department. All Candidates must have the nomination of their own branch which must be agreed at a Branch Meeting. Completed nomination forms must be signed by the Branch Secretary and Branch Chair (or accredited deputies) and the nominee.  The form should then be returned to Tony Kearns, Senior Deputy General Secretary, on the following email: elections@cwu.org by 10thNovember 2021.

Also attached is a copy of the CWU Representative Structure which shows the Distribution of Branches contained within each of the above Regions.

The timetable for the nominations is as follows:

Nominations open: Friday 22ndOctober 2021

Nominations close:  Wednesday 10th November 2021 (14:00)

Any ballots will be run in accordance with the CWU guidelines for Regional Cleaning Representatives, which are attached for your information.

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

Yours sincerely,

Tony Kearns

Senior Deputy General Secretary

LTB 448/21

Att: Election Guidelines 2021

Att: Regional Rep Nomination Form

Att: National Rep Nomination Form

Att: Regional Cleaning Structure Final Version

View Online

Rivus Fleet Solutions Garage Network CWU National Team Election

Rivus Fleet Solutions Garage Network CWU National Team Election

I am writing to advise you that the following nominations have been received for the Rivus Fleet Solutions National Team.

Garage RepresentativesNameNominees’ BranchNominating BranchesChris EvansGreater Mersey and South West LancsCentral Counties and Thames Valley, Greater Mersey and South

West Lancs.Steve PhilipsCentral Counties and Thames ValleyCentral Counties and Thames Valley, Greater London Combined, Greater Mersey and South West

Lancs., North AngliaAshley StuartMidland No.1Midland No.1

Rivus Fleet Solutions Support Centre RepresentativeNamesNominees BranchSamantha HamiltonMidland No.1Elected

There will therefore be a ballot of members in the Rivus garage network which will start on Monday 25th October and close on Monday 8th November.

The result of the ballot will be circulated to branches and members in due course. 

Yours sincerely,

Allan Eldred
Assistant Secretary

LTB 447/21

View Online

POST OFFICE: WESTMINSTER HALL DEBATE – EFFECT OF POST OFFICE CLOSURES ON LOCAL COMMUNITIES

POST OFFICE: WESTMINSTER HALL DEBATE – EFFECT OF POST OFFICE CLOSURES ON LOCAL COMMUNITIES

I wish to advise Branches that the House of Commons Library annual Post Office network report was published on 18th October:

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7550/CBP-7550.pdf

We were pleased to note the reference to our moratorium on Crown Office franchising within the research document, along with a link to our associated web story from 16th July.  The relevant paragraph (on page 10) is:

“In an attempt to preserve Crown post offices, The Communication Workers Union (CWU) agreed a moratorium with the post office in July 2021 stopping any closures or franchises for the rest of 2021. However, they remain concerned that closures or further franchising will continue in 2022.”

Westminster Hall Debate – Effect of Post Office Closures on Local Communities

On Tuesday 19th October, Marion Fellows SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw and Chair of the APPG for Post Offices hosted a Westminster Hall debate on the “Effect of Post Office Closures on Local Communities”.  There were 13 contributors to the debate from across the major parties and some crucial issues were raised and serious questions put to the Minister, Paul Scully.

The focus was on the decline of the network through the franchising/closure of Crown Offices and the unplanned closure of sub offices as Postmasters simply can’t afford to run Post Office services with the current level of remuneration and are therefore left with no choice but to hand back the keys.  Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith asked the following question during the debate:

“Why is it impossible to find locations or postmasters for these places? I think the answer stares us in the face. It is that the terms and conditions that the Post Office is prepared to offer and the efforts it is prepared to put in are not sufficient to regenerate the network.”

In addition, Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne Central and Shadow Minister posed the following question:

“What recent discussions has the Minister had with Post Office Ltd on the incomes of sub-postmasters, and what steps he is taking to minimise the risk of further closures?”

We also welcomed Marion Fellows’ mention of the CWU in her opening statement and later in the debate when she broached the subject of our agreed moratorium for Crown Office franchising/closures which runs until 31st December.  Marion put the following question to the Minister:

“A moratorium on the closure of Crown post offices, which was negotiated by the Communication Workers Union, is due to end next year. Will the Minister please confirm that it will continue? Will he also speak to other Departments within Government to find out what other services they can put into post offices, with charges that will help sub-postmasters’ remuneration?”

The idea of the Post Office being run as a community hub, which the Union has been advocating for many years, was raised during an intervention by Rachael Maskall, Labour MP for York Central:

“…we have lost our Crown post office—it is now placed in a WH Smith, which is far more inaccessible than it was previously. Does she [Marion Fellows] agree that, before any post office closure, there should be a community consultation about how that estate could be repurposed as a community service?”

The issue of “temporary” closures and the fact these closures tend to be for a significant period, leading to the loss of vital services in the community, also featured highly in the debate, along with the importance of Post Office offering banking services to communities (and particularly customers who are digitally excluded) in the wake of the continuing demise of High Street Banks.

Concerns were again raised about the Post Office’s relationship with WH Smith, which Andy Slaughter described as a “rather unhappy liaison” and compared it to “a marriage of two failing enterprises trying to support each other, and not a very happy one”.

The Horizon scandal was also mentioned and Chi Onwurah highlighted the union’s view on this matter when she commented:

“Last year I welcomed the announcement of a £227 million investment, including a £50 million subsidy to support the rural post office network. However, the CWU rightly stated that it is unlikely that this investment will be sufficient given the amount the post office will have to raise to cover future legal claims associated with the Horizon scandal, which remains the greatest public scandal that our country has suffered, and the implications of which are still being felt by many current and former sub-postmasters who are struggling to gain the compensation the Minister seemed to promise.”

Chi Onwurah also asked the Minister:

“What steps is the Minister taking to maintain the financial viability of the Post Office, and will considerations be made for the continuation of the subsidy beyond 2022?”

 Whilst Paul Scully in his response to the debate did not answer all of the points raised directly, he did however provide some reassurances to those affected by the Horizon scandal when he said:

“I am really pleased to be back in my place after the recent reshuffle because it gives me the opportunity to continue the work to make sure that everybody affected by the Horizon scandal gets justice and gets fully compensated, and that we can work towards that. It will take time.”

In view of the above, perhaps the Minister can now deliver this commitment by making sure the 550 Postmasters who were part of the original Group litigation are properly compensated, which the Government has been resistant to thus far.

In regards to Postmaster remuneration, the Minister gave the usual stock answer which was this is “an operational matter for the Post Office”. He added “but we have to recognise the importance of supporting postmasters to give them the future we talked about. I was pleased to see that it [Post Office] listened carefully to the feedback it received on the proposed changes, and I welcome the recent improvements it announced last month”.  In our view, these “improvements” fall way short of what is required to help Postmasters continue to provide vital Post Office services to the communities which need them.

The Hansard transcript of the debate can be accessed via the following link:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-10-19/debates/A78F36B3-46E9-4352-A8A2-3A3CAC55C389/PostOfficeClosures

A parliamentary Research paper was also published just prior to the debate entitled “Effect of post office closures on local Communities”.  The document can be accessed from the House of Commons Library via the following link:

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CDP-2021-0156/CDP-2021-0156.pdf

In closing, we wish to thank Marion Fellows for instigating this debate.  We work closely with Marion as Chair of the APPG and have seen first-hand how committed Marion is in doing everything possible to ensure a long-term future for the Post Office and the communities it serves.

If you have any questions in relation to this LTB, please contact Lea Sheridan – lsheridan@cwu.org.

Yours sincerely

Andy Furey                             

Assistant Secretary     

LTB 446/21 – Post Office – Westminster Hall Debate – Effect of Post Office Closures on Local Communities           

View Online

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: