29th June 2023
Royal Mail’s Customer Service Points (CSPs) – Further Reduction In Opening Times
Branches, Representatives and members will be aware that as far back as May 2021, Royal Mail has been engaged in an ongoing review of Customer Service Points (CSPs) opening times and in late 2022 Royal Mail announced a full-scale rationalisation programme, based on the possible closure of some 40 to 60 percent of CSPs, linked to the further activity of Automatic Redelivery, with these developments being reported via a series of LTBs (Letters To Branches) and ODMs (Outdoor Department Memos).
However, in February of 2023 and as outlined in LTB 036/23, Royal Mail pulled back from these plans and confirmed in a letter to the union that:
‘Having completed the first stage of the review this week and considered a range of options, we have decided to maintain the current estate of Customer Service Points as we seek to further improve our first-time delivery rates.’
Whilst this confirmation from Royal Mail at the time was welcomed and significant, given their previous position on CSPs, the union rightly remained very cautious, as the company further advised that:
‘As footfall continues to decrease, it is important that we continue to improve the efficient running of our Customer Service Points. The next stage of this review will focus on ensuring that opening hours match demand, and ways of working. It is clear that as footfall continues to reduce, we will need to change ways of working in our Customer Service Points. This may require changes to staffing levels, and more flexibility from employees in terms of roles and responsibilities.’
In May this year, Royal Mail then moved forward with the national rollout of Automatic Redelivery, despite the CWU’s wider concerns in terms of this initiative, which without question, has had a further and direct impact on customer footfall at CSPs.
Subsequently and during this period, the CWU has been engaged in both correspondence and discussions with Royal Mail on what this means in terms of their ongoing review of CSPs, and some two weeks ago Royal Mail outlined its further opening time reduction plans which they claimed needed to be retained in ‘Commercial Confidence’.
The revised opening times outlined by Royal Mail are attached as Appendix 1 but in summary, CSPs will have a maximum opening time of 4-hours (8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 6 pm weekday) with most units only being open for 2-hours (8 am to 10 am weekday); 4-hours Saturday, and with all CSPs being closed on Sunday.
In direct response to the revised times set out by Royal Mail, the union has outlined its immediate concern and dismay, as that outlined is the worst possible outcome short of Royal Mail’s initial plans to close near on half of current CSPs. Equally, and during this period, we have continued to press Royal Mail on the need to review these opening time plans to reflect local circumstances and in particular, footfall of customers using CSPs to access other services beyond that of collecting undelivered items.
Additionally, and notwithstanding our overall opposition to the revised CSPs we have further sought to use the past two weeks to secure genuine wording to address what will be clear concerns and anxiety from many members that work in CSPs due to caring, family, medical, or other personal considerations that impact their ability to undertake other roles and tasks within deliveries (including those covered under the Equality Act).
Sadly, we have been unable to reach a mutually agreeable position against these points and as such, we now understand that Royal Mail will press on with their CSP plans.
Given this, we are issuing this initial LTB to confirm to Representatives and members that whilst this is now a difficult position we find ourselves in, the following does apply in the case of any member directly impacted by these further changes to CSP opening times: –
To confirm, any process undertaken by Royal Mail will need to be based on a supportive approach and in line with the commitment of no ‘compulsory redundancies’ (and, with the exception of VR compensation terms capped at 9 months), the full terms of the existing MTSF Agreement as set out within sections 3.1.1 and 3.1.3 of the RMG/CWU Business Recovery, Transformation and Growth Negotiators’ Agreement.
Royal Mail will shortly be looking to review and collate data on overall indoor arrangements which is designed to give them an overall view, unit by unit, of all indoor tasks undertaken as part of indoor support duties arrangements covering, CSP, COM Support, Special Delivery Locker, Response Services/Business Replies, Key Lobby, etc. Local Reps should request sight of this submission made by the relevant COM and challenge highlighted discrepancies, using the IR Framework as necessary and unilaterally.
Royal Mail will shortly be seeking to hold 1-2-1 meetings with all employees on indoor duties and in particular with employees that may be impacted under their CSPs revised opening times. Members are strongly advised to seek direct CWU representation for such 1-2-1s. CWU representation where requested should not be refused.
For any members who under the process become surplus, the full terms of the MTSF agreement will apply including the need for local management to fully engage with the CWU including where there is an unresolved surplus staffing situation. Any failure on the part of local management to apply the direct terms of MTSF should be raised directly at Divisional level and in line with the IR Framework.
In the case of employees with caring, family, medical, or other personal considerations that are displaced, (including those covered under the Equality Act), these individuals’ factors will need to be fully accounted for, and should be directly and equally covered by the commitment of no ‘compulsory redundancies’.
In the event that there are attempts to exclude such members from the job security agreement, these again should be raised via the IR Framework.
Additionally, where Branches and Reps require further or particular advice in terms of members with caring, family, medical, or other personal considerations, (including those covered under the Equality Act), they should not delay in contacting the Equality, Education & Development Department by email
Please find attached Appendix 2 – CWU Flexible Working Summary factsheet, which has been shared by the Equality, Education & Development Department.
To be clear, the CWU would have much preferred to be in a position whereby we could offer a joint approach to what would under any circumstances be a difficult and challenging matter. But given the position of Royal Mail during the past two weeks, this has not been possible. However, any group or individual members impacted as a result of this further review of CSPs arrangements are covered by our collective agreements as outlined above, in addition, to wider employment protection in the case of members covered under the Equality Act.
From the CWU perspective, we are not in denial in terms of the ongoing changes in CSPs’ footfall, but we fundamentally disagree with the approach taken by Royal Mail and the sheer level and scale of the plans now earmarked, which they have made clear are not subject to any form of negotiation or local level considerations.
In addition, we also believe that the CSP issue should be progressed in line and consistent with section 2.3 of the RMG/CWU Business Recovery, Transformation And Growth Negotiators’ Agreement, “Achieving Growth” and part of expanding the role of postal workers along with exploring commercial services.
The CWU has consistently and will continue to challenge Royal Mail over their ongoing position of simply wanting to reduce CSP opening hours and reduce this service for customers. The union holds the view that instead of seeking to reduce CSPs access for customers, this should be seen as a real opportunity to grow and expand further commercial and service offerings, helping to both generate innovation along with income for the company.
The union is also further concerned that the continued attempts by Royal Mail to reduce CSPs arrangements and opening hours will further erode the company’s ability to support those members who require adjusted duty arrangements and those covered under the Equality Act.
For a company that continues with the narrative about the need to innovate and grow new customer services, it has remained backward thinking on the value of Customer Services Points and has continued to pursue a narrative that any hours used in this area is a wasted cost and a drain on the company’s finances, showing a clear lack of real vision and understanding on current revenue streams already linked to CSPs.
Whilst we will keep Branches and Representatives advised of developments, any queries to the content of the above please contact the Outdoor Department reference 532, email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Baulch CWU Assistant Secretary