DGSP Terry Pullinger writes for CWU.org about the new national agreement,

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.