Annual General Meeting Report 2016
Newly elected CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said throughout the history of our Union the role of the local CWU Union Representative has never been as tough as it is today. Local reps have to deal with the pressures of privatisation which include: continued modernisation, continue change, Managers who are under increasing pressure to deliver budgetary and efficiency savings at resource meetings etc. Therefore my sincere admiration goes out to all those people who become Union Representatives and are prepared to put their head above the parapet representing members in these difficult times. My thanks go out to all the CWU Processing Representatives and Substitutes who have supported me and each other over the last year. I also would like to thank the members of the Branch Committee and CWU Representatives from the other functions for their support and also thanks go out to our members who have patiently shown support and understanding in what has been another difficult year with the transformations taking place.
The Future of our Business
Royal Mail is now fully privatised and already shareholders have taken, a £440 million cut of the industry via dividends. This is money which could have been invested in new products and services and in improving terms and conditions.
Royal Mail’s strategy moving forward is probably the most game changing ever proposed. They want to introduce one wave of sequencing instead of the current two waves. The impact of this would be there would be no sequencing work in the delivery offices before 0900. The only work they would have is parcels and unmatchable work which equates to approximately 15% of their delivery workload. The impact on delivery staff would be the business would not need everyone in at the current duty start and finish times. This will, in turn, mean later starts and for the majority, an attendance start time of 0900 and a finish time of around 1700 in the afternoon even on a Saturday.
Royal Mail state they currently have the technology to introduce one wave sequencing in 65% of our delivery offices. This could include the majority of London offices moving to one wave immediately.
Royal Mail’s one wave plan would also impact on professional drivers who transport work during the night to delivery offices as this would significantly reduce the levels of work being transported during the night. In addition, due to one wave of traffic some offices would require a 17 tonne vehicle rather than a 7.5 tonne.
Collection hubs will also be significantly affected by the move to one wave as the majority are dependent on the van of the delivery worker who will potentially now require the van to 1700. Royal Mail has also proposed that more collections will need to be performed by delivery OPG’s as Royal Mail will not be investing in more vehicles. This will obviously become a threat to existing full time collections staff.
The impact for processing will be that Royal Mail will want to have later acceptance for customers in order to ensure next day delivery. This will alter the outward and inward times of attendance of some staff.
CSS operators in both Mail Centres, and MPU’s will be significantly impacted upon as they will not need to start running one wave until the early hours of the morning.
Royal Mail’s five year strategy is to make the delivery operation a purely outdoor job with no IPS, prep or frames. To enable them to do so, they want to purchase 20 large letter sequencing machines. These machines have already been trialled in Exeter and the EX code catchments area and they have proven to remove all the IPS and prep including flats in plastic from the delivery offices.
These large letter machines would be sited in Mail Centres. Unless your Mail Centre has one of these machines it will be unlikely to have an inward operation and potentially be subject to consideration of closure.
Once there is no inward work for a delivery office then it is likely there will be longer spans to ensure all hours are fully utilised against work load.
Part of Royal Mail’s strategy is to close 400 delivery offices. This is being considered as a purely “asset sweating” exercise. However if you consider the PE post code area where we currently run with 17 delivery offices, if the delivery operation becomes solely outward then you could condense those down to 4/5 super delivery offices which would cover the whole of the PE area. Imagine the savings in cost that would make to the business in things like jobs, vehicles, fuel, utility bills alone and add to that 8 of the 17 delivery offices are housed in prime location buildings owned by the business which could be sold for a substantial return.
One of the main argument points the union are having with the business is the under resourcing of contractual hours in all functions. Within the Agenda for Growth Agreement there is a Job Security Agreement which both parties have signed up to but Royal Mail is continuing to employ casuals and resource with large amounts of overtime rather than increase contractual hours for part time staff right across the country.
Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking Royal Mails blatant non adherence of that part of the agreement is just out of ignorance. When you look at their five year strategy you can understand why. The vast amount of redundancies predicted should their plans materialise does not justify increasing staffs contracts now, only to have to pay some of them off via VR’s under the MTSF agreement in the future.
Your union is fighting against this strategy as best they can. Only last year right across the country, including Peterborough Mail Centre under pressure from the Government, Regulator and Share Holders the business came up with proposals to offer VR’s under the MTSF agreement with a pay in lieu of notice offer (PILON) to decrease the workforce headcount around modernisation and efficiency. The CWU registered doubts in the justification behind the proposals but agreed for them to go ahead. However the unions concerns became relevant when you witness the resourcing issues we have experienced since the exercise. In our own office we have continually resourced with a large amount of variable costs including casuals and overtime. The business has been reluctant to increase part time staffs contracts, no way on a permanent basis but instead, only after pressure from the union, agree on a temporary basis.
Negotiations have been ongoing around a processing duty structure throughout the year. Where the CWU rejected Royal Mails proposals of a duty set based around efficiency and a non increase of current head count and Royal Mail rejected the CWU’s counter proposals because of cost and an increase of headcount. We have now reopened negotiations around a duty structure and it beggars belief the business has once again approached the union locally with proposals for VR’s against a targeted audience (wonder who that means), with PILON before the end of the financial year. The CWU have registered they are not prepared to have discussions around VR’s until an agreed duty structure has been put on the table and only then if the duty structure identifies a surplus in headcount.
The CWU has a proud tradition of improving terms and conditions of CWU members. Often, these advances in improving terms and conditions have come about as a result of either strike action or the threat of strike action. In the last 30 years we have had national industrial action ballots in the following years: 1987, 1988, 1996, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013 It is because of the fact that we have a strong membership, and therefore a strong union, that we have the best terms and conditions in the UK postal industry. None of the advances we fought for have been given willingly by Royal Mail. They have all come from negotiation and the backing of the membership. Your union reps are constantly standing up for your benefits. Negotiating with management around resourcing issues conduct code and attendance procedures. Both locally and nationally, YOU, the CWU have fought for and achieved the following within the business:
• Legal guarantees and protections stopping outsourcing, franchising, zero hours and two tier work force:
• Paid meal relief
• Shift payments
• Annual leave allocation (all paid)
• Basic pay
• SA payments on annual leave
• Five day week or less
• Sick pay
• MTSF payments
• No compulsory redundancies
• Workplace representation on conduct code and attendance issues, day to day work issues and welfare problems
• Retaining weekly pay above inflation
• Pay increases
Royal Mail’s five year strategic plan is game changer. Royal Mail are once again looking at radical plans to fundamentally change your terms and conditions for the worst. Add this to the announcement this week where Royal Mail are saying once again our pensions may be at risk in the future from spiralling costs to the business (LTB063/16 on display on the union board) along with the constant pressure from the government, regulator and share holders on cost, efficiency and head count savings, then we have the potential formula for some tough times ahead which we will need you to support your union through. All members need to recognise that only by supporting your union will the CWU have an influence on Royal Mail from carrying out their planned strategy in full.
As if the above is not enough doom and gloom the Conservative Government are trying to get laws through the House of Lords and Parliament which will make it much harder for unions to use industrial action to defend members terms and conditions with The Trade Union Bill. Already employment laws in the UK are the worst in the western world. However, the new laws, if introduced, will be undemocratic and are designed to limit the unions ability to defend attacks by employers via industrial action ballots. Some of the changes the new law will include are:
• That industrial action ballots must have over 50% of the workforce vote to be valid.
• That those who abstained will be counted as voting no.
• The key public services which is likely to include Royal Mail at some stage must not only have 50% of those entitled to participate and vote but must secure a 40% yes vote. For instance, if you had 100 members in a workplace voting, 50 would have to vote and to have a yes, 40 of them must vote yes.
• A ballot result can only last four months.
• You would have to give 14 days’ notice of any industrial action.
• For the first time employers will be legally allowed to recruit agency workers to perform the work of those on strike.
The Bill contains so many draconian laws that it is impossible to list them all. The Trade Union Bill is another attack on workers in this country. Remember the union is only as strong as the amount of members in it. The union negotiates on all issues, pay, pensions and your local revision. All your benefits you receive have been negotiated by the CWU. Those in the CWU are less likely to be dismissed for conduct and attendance than non-members. You have a voice and a vote on your pay and agreements, you are not on your own, you are part of a collective. So for the price of: £3.56 full time per week, £2.35 for 25–30 hours per week or £2.22 for 20–25 hours per week, you can become a member of the CWU. If you want a future in this industry then support your union. If you are not a member approach a rep or the Branch Secretary to get a form and sign up. You will not have a voice if you are not a member.
Reports suggest Peterborough Mail Centre had a good Christmas and remained within budget, although the week between the eves caught the business out across the country because the mail arrivals were higher than the predicted traffic forecast. This is something the business should be prepared for next year.
This years Christmas agreement the CWU negotiated temporary part time to full time contractual changes across all shifts instead of as in previous agreements it was the late shift only. This was in order to try to address the amount of overtime blow outs we had during Christmas pressure 2014. However we still had a lot of overtime blow outs during Christmas pressure 2015 and we have already been approached by management asking to review the overtime agreement and to look at different resourcing agreements for next Christmas.
Once again the CWU organised a Christmas raffle in aid of the long term sick and over a thousand pounds was raised. Thanks go out to the CWU Reps, Members and Royal Mail Managers who donated prizes and helped in the organising and selling of the tickets for the event.
Processing Duty Structure
The processing duty structure has become a bit of a saga over the last couple of years. It hasn’t helped that since the Cambridge into Peterborough migration we have had three different Mail Centre Managers and two Production Control Managers all with different ideas and approaches to the duty structure. John Sambells (Royal Mail Late Shift Manager) and myself will be working on a processing duty structure throughout January. We will be visiting all shifts to meet with CWU Reps, Managers and Members in order to obtain a true reflection of the operation in preparation for producing a robust duty structure.
Annual Leave Agreement
The Annual Leave Agreement was agreed and once again as in previous years all staff were guaranteed their first two weeks choice even though Management were under increasing pressure to bring in a flat annual leave allocation. It was reported how important it is for staff to ensure that any annual leave they require for special occasions and religious festivals are included in their first two weeks choice because the business have said they cannot guarantee it outside of that.
Parcel Sort Machine
Peterborough Mail Centre will be allocated one of the new Parcel Sort Machines. The planned installation date is June 2016. Negotiations are still ongoing as to where it is to be situated. There are two options, one being alongside iLSM 4 as originally planned and the other option is in the distribution hall. Reports on the progress will follow.
Nationally Agreed York Mover (Tug)
Once again the Tug is another project that has been on and off for a while, mainly due to the costs involved with the deployment. We have recently been informed that funding has been granted to go ahead with the project and reports on the progress will follow.
The new nationally agreed Finger Scanners were deployed into the processing operation. However there does not appear to be a managed process on how and when they are being used.
The CWU had concerns about the interpretation of the wording used in the introductory joint statement around managing staff that experience difficulties using them and wrote to CWU HQ for confirmation of the word difficulties. Joe Malone the PEC Member who was involved in the trials, responded by explaining the word difficulties related to health and safety issues experienced in the trials, examples of these were the laser may cause vulnerable staff to trigger epileptic fits or repetitive strain syndrome for the continued use of the hand held equipment.
New Conduct Code
The new Royal Mail/CWU nationally agreed Conduct Code Agreement was introduced last summer. The plan was to hold joint training sessions for both Royal Mail Management and CWU Representatives together but that never materialised for various reasons. The last report we had on the training was that the CWU will roll out our own training programme in this Year.
Area Processing Representative
Date 4th February 2015