7th October 2022
Royal Mail’s National Deployment of SISO within Delivery
We are writing to update you further to Letter to Branches (LTB 346/22) issued on the 24th of August and the Outdoor Department Memo (ODM) 30/22 issued on the 16th of September regarding Royal Mail’s notification to progress with the deployment of Scan In/Scan Out (SISO) in Deliveries, attached for ease of reference.
To recap, on 12th August the Outdoor Department received correspondence from Royal Mail which formally confirmed that the Company intend to progress with the deployment of SISO in delivery units. In summary, the notice of intention from Royal Mail confirms that SISO will be first deployed in a number of Sheffield Delivery units during the first week of October, (which they later confirmed would also include units in Northern Ireland) moving to a national rollout at the end of October.
Since then, there has been an ongoing exchange of correspondence with Royal Mail on this matter and further meetings and discussions, whereby we have continued to make clear that the Company should not move ahead with the deployment of SISO within the delivery function at this current point in time. It was also re-iterated that the CWU would not support any such National rollout, given the union’s real and direct concerns that Royal Mail is seeking to adapt SISO in order to be a key component and facilitator of their ‘yearly flexi hours/flexi time’ change demands, as previously outlined in LTB 346/22.
Whilst it remains clear that the CWU’s position is not to support the rollout of Scan In/Scan Out, as outlined previously, we had requested from Royal Mail on a ‘without prejudice’ basis their direct employee communication materials, including any WTLL Briefs, in order for us to be fully aware of the messaging and also in order for us to circulate any updated information to our Representatives and Branches.
This request to Royal Mail on their direct employee communication materials has now been further complicated, given the recent developments linked to our national dispute and the recent letter from Royal Mail’s CEO Simon Thompson to Dave Ward CWU General Secretary, which served notice on a number of key National Agreements, including agreements that covers the introduction of new technology and the use of data for individuals. This wider development is set out in LTB 384/22, also attached.
As Branches and Representatives are aware, there are a number of safeguards and commitments contained within several National Agreements to which Royal Mail has now informed the CWU that they will no longer apply or honour as from the 21st October. This notice includes those commitments contained within the Pathway to Change Agreement which specifically refers to the introduction of SISO. Accordingly, we have now written to Royal Mail requesting that they urgently clarify their position on these aspects.
Whilst we await a reply from Royal Mail on their employee communication materials and on the wider application of the commitments contained within the Pathway to Change Agreement surrounding SISO, it is necessary to again point out that we have been very clear with Royal Mail that we do not support the National rollout and deployment of SISO in delivery units.
To repeat, from a CWU perspective we remain fully committed to our National Agreements including the Pathway to Change Agreement. It is Royal Mail’s current unacceptable approach, their unacceptable behaviour, including their change demands of also seeking to use this technology to introduce total flexible working, annualised hours and a flexi banking hours’ system, which is directly outside of our National agreements.
We fully recognise the need to provide advice and guidance for our Representatives and for our members who will be faced with the request to SISO when an individual starts/finishes work and also the focus and pressures that this will bring in regards to managers capturing the collective hours of attendance of individuals. However, whilst we are in opposition to the deployment, for the clear reasons outlined, we believe that our advice to our members is that they should comply with any instruction from managers to log in/out, (scan in/out) as would be the case with the current paper based system.
Whilst we fully appreciate the difficulty this creates for our Branches and Representatives, we are aware that Royal Mail is looking to issue guidelines to their managers on the issue of non-compliance in terms of the use of SISO, which we further understand will include reference to the Conduct process in the case of persistent non-compliance.
However, in outlining the above it is also relevant to point out to Branches that following legal advice it has been confirmed that our national ‘Change Ballot’ can be used to announce strike action at selected units where Royal Mail seeks to move forward executive action. This applies where the local executive action is in breach of the Pathway to Change, and associated agreements as set out in the ‘Change Ballot’. There is no need for these units to ballot again separately, but Branches would have to request additional strike action in time to allow for endorsement of the Postal Executive and the mandatory notice period to be given.
Therefore, the Postal Executive has been clear that any attempts by Royal Mail to use SISO for resourcing, or revisions, or for disciplinary purposes or to seek to introduce total flexible working, annualised hours or a flexi banking hours’ system; or to use the system beyond these commitments contained within paragraph 2.5 Technology of the Pathway to Change Agreement will be opposed by all means possible, including the use of the ‘Change Ballot’ mandate.
This will also include any attempts by Royal Mail to break the commitment in the Pathway to Change Agreement that SISO data will not be used for the automatic reduction of contractual pay or reduce overtime pay where a (verbal) contract has been agreed with the manager, prior to commencement.
In the case of our Safety Representatives, we are also mindful of their legal and wider responsibilities on workplace safety. Given that, we would advise that they do need to engage on all the required Health & Safety elements of SISO, including the positioning and installation of the equipment at local level, and equally, raise concerns and issues accordingly and via the RMG/CWU Health & Safety Dispute and Escalation Process as necessary (as outlined in LTB 692/19).
It is Royal Mail’s current unacceptable approach and change demands which are directly outside of the Pathway to Change National Agreement, which is the issue, alongside their wider and ongoing contempt for the Union and our members as further highlighted last week, not the concept of a move to a technology-based signing in/out system which simply replaces the current paper-based system.
Whilst we will keep Branches and Representatives advised of developments, any queries to the content of the above please contact the Outdoor Department reference 540, email address: email@example.com
Mark Baulch CWU Assistant Secretary