Both parties are fully committed to working together in order to ensure we continue to focus on the key priorities set out back in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic within the UK.
Protecting our people.
Connecting and delivering right across the UK, whilst also playing a key role in fighting the pandemic.
Protecting the business Coronavirus along with new variants of the virus, the continued lockdown and various governments and agencies advice continue to impact the Royal Mail operation in several ways.
Social Distancing and other safety measures remain vitally important, parcel volumes and overall workload continue to grow, and sick absence overall has increased. Sick absence associated with the pandemic in some units is exceptionally high due to cluster outbreaks placing significant strain on the operation and those colleagues who remain at work.
It is therefore important that we work together at all levels within our organisations in order to ensure safety standards are being maintained and operational contingencies are jointly deployed to minimise the disruption customers may experience.
Protecting our people - Working together on Safety Standards
All operational units should undertake a joint weekly safety inspection/tour to assess deployment of safety and Covid standards and jointly encourage compliance with all aspects of the safety measures we have deployed. This joint activity will involve the Unit Manager (PIC), the Unit IR rep and the Unit Safety Rep or Area Safety Rep.
Continued issues with non-compliance should be escalated via the line structure and support offered to any unit that requires it. The CWU Area IR Rep, Area Safety Rep, Royal Mail Senior Manager and SHE Business Partner will then agree a plan of action to help address any non-compliance issues. In the event issues remain the appropriate RM senior manager (SDL, etc) and Divisional Representative will meet to review what further action is required.
Health and Safety issues can also be escalated via the agreed SHE Standard escalation process. There is a shared aspiration that this joint activity will identify good practice and all parties are encouraged to share examples where identified. Where concern about indoor space or ventilation is an issue both parties commit to working together on deploying jointly developed solutions that reduce the number of people in the building at any one time.
This may include staggering start times earlier or later and the realignment / introduction of resource to enhancement night operations to reduce congestion during the IPS/prep. Both actions should prove beneficial in maximising the use single occupancy of vehicles over the day or better utilisation of red fleet and hired vehicles. Every unit is uniquely different in this regard and therefore joint local assessment along with jointly developed solutions are important.
Both parties fully support the introduction of mandatory face masks/coverings in indoor spaces as an important control measure to reduce virus transmission in the workplace.
It is important that any exemptions are validated and minimised to those colleagues that have genuine cause not to wear a face covering. Where a face covering cannot be used for medical reasons, individuals where appropriate will be provided with a face visor to minimise the risk of transmission in the workplace.
Operational Contingency - Connect and deliver for the UK
The impact of the virus varies significantly across the UK, most typically defined by absence levels in each unit and associated cluster outbreaks. Royal Mail is taking all reasonable measures in response to the operational impacts outlined above and this should continue to be the focus of joint weekly resourcing meetings at unit level.
Post peak Royal Mail has retained up to 6000 hired vehicles to help overcome the loss of the shared vehicle operation. Additionally, and in order to support the increased absence, cluster outbreaks and increased volumes along with the operational constrains experienced due to Covid-19 up to 4000 agency delivery drivers have been engaged and retained in order to provide support for the operation and the fantastic efforts of colleagues throughout the UK.
The continued numbers of agency staff along with resourcing issues and overall recruitment will be subject to regular further joint National Review and carried out in line with the commitments contained within the Pathway to Change agreement. In addition, both parties will jointly identify and agree any opportunities within their units to recruit staff where there are currently known vacancies which need to be filled, or to increase weekly contractual commitments for existing part time staff.
RM & CWU
RMG – Internal Joint weekly resourcing meetings will focus on how best to align any additional agency resource alongside the availability of Royal Mail employees working in delivery units. It is confirmed that all existing staff resourcing options will be exhausted before the option to the use of agency workers is taken.
Overtime will also be paid where it is necessary in order to clear any backlog of all mail, this includes the USO and all delivered mail products.
Weekly resourcing meetings will take place in all units in line with our national agreements and will include the following priorities and activities:
Review social distancing arrangements within the unit to ensure that they remain effective and compliance remains high
Helping the UK fight the pandemic is the operational priority and therefore resources must be focused on the collection and delivery of test kits, delivery of PPE to care homes and doctors’ surgeries, etc and the delivery of vaccination letters. Walk/route level line listings are now available to assist units with the daily clearance of vaccination letters.
Ensuring compliance with the Test Kits SSoW.
The efficient utilisation of red fleet and the numbers of vehicles in the unit overall, including hire vehicles.
Where any backlog of mail exists following a cluster outbreak there should be a joint locally agreed plan in place to recover the situation as quickly as possible using a full range of resourcing options.
Consider increased or enhanced arrival profiles into units to support the local work plan
Resourcing arrangements should consider the availability to maximise overtime including: part time employees increasing hours on a pre-planned basis, day off working, Sunday delivery of parcels, dedicated am/pm parcel routes.
Where full walk/route coverage is not achievable due to absence levels or the impact of social distancing then any delivery points not covered on a given day must be a priority the next working day. Arrangements necessary to achieve this will be discussed and agreed with the Units IR rep and local manager as part of the weekly resourcing meetings.
The Unit recovery plan should be shared with everyone in the unit as a key output of the weekly resourcing meeting
Processing (Mail Centre/RDC/WBC)
Weekly resourcing meetings should take place in all units in line with the guidelines established in the 2018 Resource Realignment agreement and will include the following as standard items during the Covid Period.
Review social distancing arrangements within the unit to ensure that they remain effective and compliance remains high.
Review Test Kit Processing arrangements to ensure that items remain contained within the discreet Network
Ensuring compliance with the Test Kits SSoW.
Review resourcing arrangements to maximise internal resourcing options (SA/Overtime) and reduce the number of additional agency workers within the operation.
Review of forecast workload, the aim being to minimise diversions and maximise the amount of traffic processed on site safely, while maintaining social distancing arrangements.
Review workload diversions to other plants or Temporary Parcel Hubs with a view to reducing the requirement.
Supporting Units and issue escalation
The role of the Area CWU Reps and Senior Ops Managers is to continue to support the operational sites within their area’s to effectively overcome the operational challenges they face. Regular weekly dialogue should take place covering and concentrating on any hotspot units and what more can be done to help to provide support for the Unit managers and Unit reps.
This may include how neighbouring units can support alongside with the effective alignment of any additional temporary resources across the SDL area following the issues and process as outlined above.
Oversight will be provided by the SDLs and Divisional Reps through a regular process of engagement. This will include a review of hotspot Units and any problems being highlighted by the Senior Leader or Area Representatives.
Although this approach is already in place in many areas, this should be considered good practice across the whole of the UK operation.
Oversight of health and safety issues will be provided by ASRs and the Safety, Health & Environmental Strategic Business Partner North and South
RM & CWU
Internal Royal Mail’s Field Operations Director and National Functional Directors continue to meet with the CWU’s National Officers on a weekly basis.
In the event issues are not resolved through the processes outlined above these will be raised and reviewed at the joint weekly Coronavirus meeting.
Mark Baulch CWU Assistant Secretary
Ricky McAulay Field Operations Director Royal Mail