Monday 11th January 2021
DGSP Terry Pullinger writes for CWU.org about the new national agreement, ahead of this evening’s special Facebook-live session at 6pm that he will be hosting with general secretary Dave Ward.
The proposed “Key Principles Framework (The Pathway to Change)” agreement that was reached just before Christmas signals the end of a bitter and acrimonious two-year dispute. During most of this period those leading the business had clearly adopted a philosophy of side-lining the union at all levels, but especially in the workplace whilst managing decline through significant job losses.
To be clear management wanted to move Parcelforce out of Royal Mail Group, build a new parcel company that sat on top of the core business and undermined the USO, they wanted to fully dilute the role of the CWU to enable the imposition of un-agreed change and reduced terms and conditions. RMG would argue that this was not their intention but we are convinced it was and that our members’ employment security and this great public service were in danger.
Not only had management moved away from all of the commitments within our 2018 agreement, including the Shorter Working Week and the improvement of culture, but they were intent on implementing measures that would dehumanise the workplace through the rigid use of new technology and the introduction of un-agreed productivity measures. This would ultimately have set office against office and worker against worker. As late as September of last year their intention was to totally change the approach to pay bargaining, with reward being dependent upon imposed targets. Additionally, they wanted to dilute our negotiating structures and rewrite the attendance procedure, conduct code and other personnel procedures.
These negotiations have been conducted in the eye of a storm which is having a major impact on all aspects of life. The Covid-19 pandemic has readjusted everyone’s thought process. It has heightened everybody’s sense of loss, family, health, safety, public service, financial and employment security. It has also changed the face of the work we do, advancing the anticipated change to our workload by years, and the nature of the job has to adjust at pace.
We are the most trusted provider on the doorstep and the public support for this great public service has shifted from romantic to necessity. The equal social inclusion we provide is recognised again as crucial and we must grasp this opportunity to continue to grow that importance and protect the service and the decent employment it provides for generations to come.
The Royal Mail Group Board recognised in the talks to resolve our dispute (which was always about protecting this public service and employment, standard of living and retirement security) the reality of the above, the opportunity that has been presented out of adversity and that they could not move this business on without the support of this union and its loyal membership.
‘We now have the opportunity to emerge from one of the most adversarial periods of our history and reinvent this great public service closer to our hearts’ desire. The test is clear, winning the war is only part of the story, winning the peace is what provides the ultimate outcome’.
This agreement gives us what we fought for – our right to negotiate the shape of the future, commitment to our previous agreements, and employment, standard of living and retirement security for all our members.
Management have committed that their ideology has changed, it is no longer about managed decline and job losses but about progress and industrial peace, jointly developed mutual interest solutions, growth and diversification, no compulsory redundancies, job creation and one that ensures Parcelforce remains part of the group.
The strength of this agreement is that it builds on the commitments in the Four Pillars agreement with the second hour reduction in the working week, proper pay rises for 2020 and 2021, joint and ongoing work to improve culture and negotiations on attendance and other policies. The assurances in regard to the use of new technology are both trade union and industry leading, ensuring that the workplace will not be dehumanised and the decisions affecting our members will be made between the local manager and the local Representatives – not digitally.
Most importantly the agreement places the union firmly at the centre of negotiating change at all levels. The need to change is not one that can be ignored, change and growth are crucial to your future and the future survival of Royal Mail.
At a time when the impact of the pandemic has already resulted in record levels of redundancies in the wider world of work, the agreement we have concluded provides commitments on job security with no compulsory redundancies and the maintenance of our current MTSF terms, which will be jointly reviewed in May 2023. Our legal protections will also be extended and again jointly reviewed in 2023.
This agreement has been hard fought for and hard won and it would not have been possible without our members standing together and supporting this union. Equally our members have added even further weight to our call for the protection of this great public service in keeping this country connected and massively fulfilling their role as key workers during this unprecedented pandemic in our lifetime.
‘We don’t get what we deserve we get what we negotiate, but only if we negotiate from a position of strength – you are the strength’.