Point of view: On The CWU Agreement from our P.E.C (Postal Executive Council) Official Martin Walsh for your consideration
Martin Walsh in a personal capacity.
Royal Mail are in a financial mess of their own making and whilst we can blame them for getting into that position, the fact is they could end up ceasing to be a going concern.
Those who doubt this just need to look at the first two pages of the agreement. What public limited company would open their poor financial position for the whole market to see if they not telling the truth ?
Does anyone believe if they did go into administration the government appointed administration would care about resolving issues in our dispute like pay , later starts , flexibility, sick pay.
The things that convinced me to vote yes to the agreement were .
1. Whilst there are parts of the agreement which I would rather not have in it, the fact remains it was not a pic and mix it was part of an overall package which Royal Mail needs to show to the market that it had a future.
2. We had massively changed Royal Mails proposals from last summer and from their best and final offer on 22nd November.
3. In a company staring into the abyss financially there was simply no more money to fund more pay.
4. The other consideration was things going to get better by further strikes or worse. Royal Mail without an agreement are legally obliged to try and avoid administration by introducing change by executive action and they would have needed to introduce far bigger change then what’s is in the agreement.
5. If the company entered into administration then thousands of jobs would be lost which are not linked directly to the USO.
6. The reason why the ballot allows for time to fully explain the reasons why the agreement was reached and exposing some myths is we generally want to engage.
7. It would have been easy to simply take strike action but it would have been a gamble equivalent to playing Russian roulette with our members jobs and futures. No responsible union does that.
8. We generally believe that we have changed Royal Mail’s plans but there is no agreement without change as the company don’t survive.
9. On Later starts 62% will finish up to 15:30, 93% will finish before 16:00. Everyone will know their start times before they vote for example if you work in Sheffield City there is no change to start times and if you work in Sheffield North you move 15 minutes later. The aim of the joint working parties is to improve this further. Only 103 delivery units out of 12:50 will have a finish time after 16:30 and most of these are rural or 4 day weeks where they have more hours to fit into their duty each working day.
10. Royal Mail wanted to introduce annualised hours which meant you had to complete your duty even if it went past your finishing time. Annualised hours would have been linked to SISO and PDA.
Instead we have agreed seasonal variations where everyone will know a year in advance their start and finish times.
The period will run from September 2023 till September 2024. Within this period a full timer will work 15 weeks during the peak at 39 hours , 24 minutes before their duty time per day.
15 weeks during the summer at 35 hours, a full timer will start 10 minutes later and finish 14 minutes earlier.
22 weeks at 37 hours.
All hours will balance between September 2023 and September 2024.
The joint aim is to reduce absorption in the summer months and to improve quality of service during the peak.
Part timers will work 10 minutes more per day in the peak and 10 minutes less per day in the summer.
11. On sick pay , it was Hobsons choice , Royal Mail were imposing all the sick changes in May , all their managers were being trained.
Did the union reach an agreement which modified those changes or did it allow Royal Mail to impose that change. Remember less than 1 in 4 of employees come into contact with any of the sick proposals.
The union decided to modify these by :
A) We changed the SSP to 2 days for the second absence and this means for 55% of those 25% who go sick who never have more than 2 absences will benefit from the reduction of a day.
B. We have achieved a clause if sick reduces to 5.5% then SSP measure will be removed and all sick will be paid as previously.
C. Royal Mail wanted to automatically issue stage 1s and 2s this is not in the agreement.
D. We have improved Royal Mail’s previous I’ll health proposal.
Is the above ideal ? No but be in no doubt if you reject the agreement on the basis of the changes to sick leave, Royal Mail will impose it.
12. Royal Mail decided to smash the workforce and union. They wanted to replace current staff with owner drivers and wanted compulsory redundancies. Instead we have an agreement and whilst it is not perfect , stops all of that. it is also an agreement which stops imposition and allows us to start changing the revisions which Royal Mail had imposed.
It has also allowed us to minimise later starts , stop compulsory Sundays , remove annualised hours , flexi bank without finishing times , managed to keep RRIS , TPM, Sunday premium and all the other allowances.
Plus we have the best opportunity to get justice for the reps and members who have been treated unfairly. For those who have been dismissed or facing dismissal only this agreement gives them a chance for justice.
I totally understand we want to have got more on pay but unfortunately with a company going to declare a loss of nearly 500 million there is no more money for now. Yes I know what they gave in bonuses and dividends last year but that does not change that this year they got no more money for a pay rise.
So in conclusion the PE have not been shy in previously calling for strike action, 18 days of strikes more than anyone other strike since 1971. If we thought more was on table then we would have called more.
The truth is we did not believe there was and the risk of the company ceasing to being a going concern and the impact on our members was not worth gambling with.
Anyone who is considering voting no must answer this question? Do you believe what is on the table gets better by doing this and are you really willing to gamble with 125 thousand of members jobs ?
It is easy to shout behind a keyboard I would rather see Royal Mail go under than to agree this deal.
It is a total different thing having to then deal with those 125 thousand staff who may no longer being getting a regular weekly wage or are being made redundant.
The CWU over the coming weeks will be engaging with our members to tell them why we reached this agreement and what it means to them.
Solidarity to all.