Deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger sent out a strongly-worded warning to Royal Mail today that the company must “walk the walk, not just talk the talk” on cultural change within the business, after a summer of growing discontent in delivery.
With several local disputes taking place over recent weeks at offices around the country, a common theme has been complaints of bullying and harassment by managers and unfair allocation of work and duties.
In July, a potential all-out strike at Swansea was narrowly averted when Royal Mail reinstated a member who had been unfairly sacked, while other management actions and behaviours sparked angry protests in units as far apart as Plymouth, Sunderland and Grimsby during August.
“We’ve become increasingly concerned at these reports that have been coming in from branch and area reps,” said Terry.
“And while of course there will always be stresses and strains in local units as we all do our best to get the job done every day, what initially looked like separate individual flashpoints are now starting to resemble a trend – which is worrying.”
While pensions, pay and the shorter working week were the issues that made the headlines in the Four Pillars National Agreement that was reached between the CWU and Royal Mail earlier this year, the other major strand – operational redesign – contained a firm joint commitment to change the culture within the company.
“This pillar is every bit as important as the others and we’re working hard with the employer on a range of operational change issues, in delivery as well as processing, network and logistics – but operational change cannot succeed without positive cultural change,” Terry explains.
“Cultural change is about creating the right environment for this great business to succeed, managers in every unit in the country must play their part in this and we’re going to make sure it happens.”
Our DGSP explains that changing a culture “takes time” and is a long-term initiative that takes “perseverance” and “determined dedication.”
But, Terry insists: “We have to start – and compelling focus can be achieved by looking at your own workplace, the atmosphere, the morale, the way people are spoken to and treated.
“Then,” he continues: “Ask yourself: ‘Would I be happy for one of my family members to work here’.
“If the Answer is ‘No’, then identify the key issues and challenge them as a collective union in the workplace, push issues through the IR framework via your representative, request mediation or, in the most extreme situations, bring matters to a head and this union will support you.”