National Joint Statement for Future Collections Activity including the 2nd Hour SWW Introduction

No. 157/21


Dear Colleagues,


National Joint Statement for Future Collections Activity including the 2nd Hour SWW Introduction


Branches and representatives are informed that in line with the commitments contained in the Pathway to Change Agreement, discussions have been taking place with the business in relation to progressing revision activity in Collections to deliver the 2nd Hour reduction in the SWW (Shorter Working Week).


The Pathway to Change Agreement states that both parties will jointly develop and agree the approach to the ongoing changing dynamics of declining letters and growth in parcels within the collection function. This approach will consider the collection approach for low volume letter postboxes, the increased use of priority postboxes, the expansion of the parcel postbox network and the growth in consumer collection services.


Discussions took place with Royal Mail regarding their proposal to move all non-associated postboxes to collections on delivery, which in essence meant only circa 15k postboxes would be deemed ‘associated boxes’ with a 4pm later collection. Those would primarily be associated with post offices, business/parcel boxes, Royal Mail operational units and a number of pre-determined key locations such as main railway stations/airports, national/regional parliaments/assemblies and in each collection unit area, a larger supermarket.


As you will all be aware prior to COVID, there was a continuing decline in stamped letters and increasing under-utilisation of the postbox estate; such is the level of under-utilisation that most postboxes now receive less than 10 items per day. In fact, a postbox needed to receive 46 items per day to cover the cost of a dedicated collection and 5 for a collection to be made on delivery. Therefore, the fact that circa 67,000 postboxes receive 5 or less items per day and circa only 6,000 postboxes fit the criteria (in terms of efficiency) in order to meet the cost of a dedicated evening collection is based on volume analysis.


As a result, the RM/CWU Collections JWG structure was reconvened to progress all of the above activities, along with previous commitments within the Four Pillars Agreement. This has led to numerous discussions with Royal Mail and a CWU counter proposal to their future plans being put forward, which has led to the conclusion of the of attached Joint Statement which includes:


A revised specification for postbox collections has been agreed. This will see a further expansion of collections on delivery (COLLOD), to be deployed through a programme of PBS revisions and local BAU changes. The approach maintains daily collections from all existing c.115.3k postboxes and will be deployed over three years and reviewed each year, to ensure the plans remain fit for purpose.

  • From April 2021, the current volume and distance criteria will be removed and replaced by a core network of c. 35k postboxes that will retain predominantly 4:00 PM or later weekday collections and 10:30 or later Saturday collections. These comprise of “associated” postboxes and “non-associated”postboxes that are currently designated as “Priority Postboxes” for Covid-19 test-kit returns. All other postboxes will be transferable to collection on delivery.


  • From April 2022, the core network will reduce to c. 25k postboxes; comprising “associated” “postboxes and a reduced number of “Priority Postboxes”. The number and location of the “Priority Postboxes” will be reviewed closer to the time, considering any prevailing requirements for Covid-19 test-kit returns. All other postboxes will be designated for transfer to collection on delivery.


  • From April 2023, the core network will further reduce to c. 15k postboxes; comprising only “associated” postboxes. Again, this will be reviewed closer to the time, considering any prevailing requirements for Covid-19 test-kit returns.

These changes are compliant with the regulatory requirements set out in the DUSP conditions and Ofcom has been notified of Royal Mail’s planned implementation.


The joint statement also includes the full involvement of the CWU throughout the process to ensure all information has been supplied and that the identification of boxes, deployment plans, challenge process, additional time for deliveries and the review of Saturday operations is included within the process.


In addition, the joint statement also ensures the growth agenda related to new high footfall postboxes, parcel posting boxes, consumer collections, LAT (PM delivery) and Same Day products will form part of the future agenda and reviews into the use of collection duties in performing those tasks, as well as reviewing the productivity measures.


Both parties have also agreed to review the existing planner-led and unit-led revisions process in order to simplify the procedure where possible and ensure both aspects are fit for purpose. This activity is already in progress and is hoped to be completed in due course.


Finally, also included in the Joint Statement is the inclusion of the framework and guidelines for the revision activities required to deliver this commitment and the introduction of the second hour reduction in circa 117 dedicated Collection Hubs/Units by October 2021.