JOINT STATEMENT REGARDING THE DEPLOYMENT OF STANDARD 64 BOX LETTER SORTATION FITTINGS AND STANDARD SORT SELECTIONS FOR LETTERS AND LARGE LETTERS ACROSS THE MAIL CENTRE NETWORK
Branches will recall that a trial on an initiative called Optimised Sort Selections (OSS) was agreed in May 2016, (LTB 330/16 refers). The trial activity was designed to assess whether a move to a standard 64 box fitting and change to a standard sort selection would provide efficiencies with regard to a reduction in secondary sorting, both in processing and Delivery Units in the Nottingham and Warrington Mail Centre catchment areas.
The trial however effectively ceased without formal review in December 2016, as the business had ascertained by that point that there was far less secondary sorting in Delivery Units than they had anticipated and as such the business case objectives could not be achieved and withdrew from the trial.
In January 2018 the department became aware of attempts in the field to roll out an initiative referred to as Removal of Secondary Sorting, which again involved the deployment of 64 box fittings.
The “Four Pillars” agreement included a Joint commitment to our agreed trials coordination approach and moreover included the following words:
Both parties also commit to a review of the status of recent and current agreed trial activity with the Processing and Logistics (RDC) functions to ensure that they progress towards agreed milestones and that the next steps are supported and addressed through governance at the Joint National Processing & Logistics Group Meetings.
Based on this wording the department insisted that all activity cease until such time as a Joint Review of the OSS trial and the revised proposal had taken place. This review, which was undertaken by the Trial Coordination Working Group and supported by our Industrial
was designed to test the assumptions and potential impacts of the proposal and considered the following:
A review of the OSS trial outputs with regard to Mail Centre activity only and the planning assumptions in the new proposal.
Joint analysis on any adverse impact that the introduction of 64 box fittings would have on current employees covered by the Equality Act.
Joint assessment of the potential impact on current duty structures and redeployment opportunities for affected employees at each site.
Consistency with our joint commitments to reduce the levels of agency resource within the operation.
Mitigation of the impact of change on individuals by fully recognising current attendance patterns and earnings packages.
The review activity has now concluded that although the initiative will undoubtedly lead to a reduction in the requirement for secondary sorting in Mail Centres, the analysis shows that the original workload reduction estimates in the Royal Mail plan were overly inflated. The JWG has therefore recommended that local discussions commence on the change activity.
Attached is a Joint Statement designed to guide local discussion which has been endorsed by the Postal Executive. The initiative will entail the adoption of the 64 box fitting for letter and large letter sorting, already utilised in many Mail Centres as the standard method. It will also introduce a standard 55 Inward Primary Sort Selection and the standardisation of frame design principle, labelling and sorting information.
The deployment will be made on a phased basis, determined by both the installation of the 64 box fittings and the conclusion of agreed revised resourcing arrangements at each site.
It should be noted that the Joint Statement includes:
Even where 64 box fittings are installed, current sortation arrangements will apply until resourcing arrangements are agreed.
It is anticipated that the reduction in workload can be fully met through reducing the use of Agency/Casual resource.
Both parties recognise the impact of change on individuals and reaffirm our joint commitments to minimise employee disruption as much as possible. In all change, due consideration will be given to current attendance patterns, earnings packages, Family Friendly and Equality Act arrangements, and movement of employees between shifts will be avoided.
In particular both parties recognise the historic impacts of workload and traffic changes on early shifts in Mail Centres and discussions will ensure that any potential impact on early shift duty patterns can be mitigated in line with the principles established in the 2017 Joint Statement on Traffic Smoothing in the Processing Function and Mail Centre Workplan. This may include the realignment of workload where necessary.
Full analysis will take place locally on any potential effect on sortation staff covered by the Equality Act and reasonable adjustments to layout or work area will be considered where this will mitigate any adverse impact.
The changes apply to Mail Centre to Mail Centre sortation only and do not include reductions or alterations to current mail service level arrangements or sort selections from the Mail Centre to Delivery Offices.
The current level of manual mail planned for each dispatch will be unaffected and this change in process will not impact or change any current workload arrival times into Delivery Offices.
The department believes that the necessary safeguards have been achieved to ensure that our representatives can deal with the operational change and any issues that arise. Branches and Representatives should use the Joint Statement as the basis for local discussions which should be progressed in line with the IR Framework.