We reported yesterday, via video, that we had made a significant move in order to try and bring a new dynamic to the current separate and systematic negotiations on Pay and Royal Mail Change demands, which in our opinion break the Pathway to Change agreement.
It is important that all CWU Reps and members understand that the CWU has not walked away from the negotiations but have requested that they are suspended until a high-level meeting takes place between the Royal Mail Group Board Chair, RMG CEO, CWU General Secretary and the CWU Deputy General Secretary Postal, all of whom were signatories to the Pathway to Change agreement.
It is also important that all CWU Reps and members understand that it is the CWU that has been pushing for constructive and progressive negotiations on all issues since January 2022.
The CWU insisted on a meeting in January 2022 to move forward the operational Pipeline section of the Pathway to Change agreement. Management tried to cancel this meeting and were reluctant for it to take place but the CWU insisted. At the closure of that meeting management promised to respond to a number of issues raised by the CWU and to supply the required information and response in order that negotiations could be progressed at pace. Management failed to supply that information or arrange another meeting.
In February 2022 the CWU, concerned by the emerging growing cost of living crisis, wrote to the business regarding our pay claim and stressed that it was important the company made an appropriate offer on pay, which protected our members’ standard of living, to be introduced on the 1st April to allow all of our members a chance of coping with the cost of living crisis. Management failed to respond in organising a pay meeting until April 2022, after the due pay award date.
Also in February 2022, at the same time as requesting pay talks, the CWU wrote to management regarding moving forward the Pathway to Change agreement and specifically issues such as revision activity and productivity. Again management failed to arrange a meeting to discuss this until April 2022.
In March 2022 the CWU, in anticipation that both parties were still honouring the Pathway to Change agreement, held a Policy Forum for all CWU activists (at great expense to the CWU) to establish policy on how we move forward the agreement, including matters such as seven day working, new products and services, culture, pipeline, the joint 35 hour working week commitment and other mutual interest solutions to the reinvention of Royal Mail Group, the protection of the USO and the future generation of postal workers. That Policy Forum resulted in a substantial document of ideas which was forwarded to management as a ‘heads up’ on our position on how we move the deployment of the Pathway to Change agreement forward. No response to that courtesy was received from management.
In April 2022 management tabled their position, which was no pay rise for all employees unless the union signed up to change demands which break the Pathway to Change agreement and its joint commitments and pose a major threat to the current workforce, the future generation of postal workers and the future of this great public service.
We have been in negotiations with Royal Mail Group for the past four months, during that time our members have returned a massive yes vote for industrial action on the rejection of RMG’s 2% imposed pay award (which is totally unacceptable). The CWU has given RMG weeks to listen to their employees and improve the pay offer, but they have refused to do so.
Equally, and judging by the excellent support being shown, we believe that our members will also return a massive yes vote for industrial action in rejection of RMG’s change demands. We have stressed that the business should listen to their employees and negotiate mutual interest change agreements consistent with the Pathway to Change agreement, but again they refuse to budge.
So nothing has changed the company’s position in these negotiations, there is no obvious latitude in the remit that the RMG negotiators have, hence the need to introduce a different dynamic.
RMG’s change demands have been widely publicised to its employees in detail and promoted by the company via their ‘workplace’ platform and other means. Therefore it should not be a surprise to anyone how damaging they are for RMG workers (including Parcelforce) and this great public service. For example, pulling up the ladder on the next generation of postal workers, lower pay, bringing back the 40hr week and introducing the cheapest possible pipeline resulting in pushing the operation back 3hrs and creating a pm only delivery service, are not the acts of progressive thinking of people committed to growing RMG, protecting the USO or the standard of living, employment and retirement security of its employees.
These proposals – ridiculously badged as modernisation, represent the same race to the bottom, asset stripping, shareholder interest only type proposals that currently dominate the world of work.
The reaction of our members to RMG’s position is evidence that the workforce is totally opposed to RMG’s future plans. In our opinion these change proposals represent the greatest threat we have seen since privatisation to our members, and future members, the great public that we serve and the future of this highly regarded public service.
Against that backdrop, it is also worth remembering when the company is pleading poverty, how many millions of pounds have gone out of this industry and into shareholders’ pockets – over £2 billion since privatisation and since 2021, and in the light of decisions made at the recent shareholder AGM, in excess of £600 million. Senior managers and board members have also received pay rises, bonus payments and been given extra shares during this period.
It is hypocrisy of the highest order and rather than continue pointless negotiations, which the company themselves have disrespected and undermined from day one, and simply hope that something will change, as a consequence we have decided to call for this new dynamic in an effort to change the current impasse and enable an agreement to be reached. We stress once again the CWU have not walked away from talks and stand ready for meaningful negotiations and reaching agreements.
Your trade union totally respects you – all you have done and all you do. It is evident that your employer does not.
Your contribution to society is massive, you deserve far greater respect and reward and have every right to demand it – you have earnt that right. The CWU and its members have never lived life on our knees. Generations of postal workers have built and defended this great postal service and the terms and conditions for postal workers, it’s our time to stand again.
We thank everyone for their magnificent support and hard work. Both members and Reps have demonstrated that this great union does speak for its members and that Royal Mail Group have totally lost the trust, respect and confidence of their employees.
Vote yes, stand strong.