The Joint Statement agreed by the CWU represents an important breakthrough in our dispute.
For the last two years , the CWU and Royal Mail have been at loggerheads over the company abandoning the 4 Pillars Agreement and wanting to withdraw from the legal protections which stopped the worst impacts from privatisation.
In fact the last year has seen Royal Mail wanting to TUPE parcelforce staff which would have seen an attack of their terms and conditions. Which would have than meant that Royal Mail would have put the growth in parcel traffic into this new company to be done cheaper.
The end result would have been to manage decline in Royal Mail letters.
Less than 6 months ago they started introducing change into offices without agreement and they also wanted the CWU to accept their whole Journey Transformation plan on a basis of a 3 year pay agreement.
When the CWU declared another massive yes vote on 17th March , it had become apparent life as we knew it was changing under the world wide pandemic.
Whilst every part of Royal Mail has been impacted by the COVID 19 crisis , perhaps delivery has been impacted the greatest.
It is clear the average delivery office looks far different now than before the COVID 19 pandemic.
Everything from one person in a van , to pre starts , USO failures , higher sick leave , cars back on delivery , staff starting from home , staff getting public transport to meet their CDV , the list is endless to what has changed since COVID.
Perhaps the biggest change is that due to the furloughing of so many businesses and the fact so many companies were working from home that letter traffic has reduced significantly.
The reverse has happened for parcels and tracked products , where this has seen record levels of increases.
Due to the fact that the majority of letters are automated, they are more profitable, especially as we are the USO provider.
Whereas parcels are subject to much wider competition and the margins for profit are therefore on average much lower.
We fully realise that for the average postal worker in an office has possibly never worker as hard, due to the rise in parcels / tracked and the restrictions which have been installed by ensuring social distancing is applied.
Since the COVID pandemic the CWU have pushed the company on PPE , social distancing, a payment for working during the pandemic, to resolve our pay round and a resolution to our dispute.
The Royal Mail board ended Rico Back reign as CEO. It was clear that Rico’s strategy was based on defeating the CWU in order to have a free reign to attack terms and conditions including ending the 6 day USO.
The CWU have since Rico’s departure been locked into talks over getting a framework for negotiations over all the key aspects of our dispute.
Remember these talks were now with a different Royal Mail negotiating team.
The Joint Statement which has now been agreed, will mean that detailed negotiations will now take place over the future direction of the company.
However the company has now agreed the following up front
1. The TUPE of Parcelforce is off the table.
2. That the Four Pillars values and intent is still in play. This commits the company to the principle of the 35 hour gross working week without loss to pay or meal relief.
3. Royal Mail have recommitted to the legal guarantees which stops the company breaking up different parts of the business , outsourcing work , from franchising parts of the organisation and from introducing a two tier workforce.
This is hugely significant given the financial position of the company. The legal guarantees also prevent from compulsory redundancies.
The Joint Statement also commits negotiations on the following over the next month.
1. Understanding the Financial position of the company.
2. Discussions over what revisions and trials can be introduced , taking into account the Inpact of COVID.
3. A resolution to Pay 2020 which was due in April.
4. The resolution to our dispute , including a new agreed strategy. This includes what new technology is used and deployed.
5. Royal Mail have commuted to the USO . This is significant due to the backdrop of Of Com consultation on the sustainability of the USO which will be published later this year.
6. The company have committed to looking at how letter decline can be tackled and what other growth opportunities we could capture. This builds on the fact that postal workers are key workers and so valuable to the local community.
So the joint statement should be viewed as the first step in agreeing the future.
But be in no doubt that these negotiations are going to be possibly the biggest since the ending of the second delivery and will mean major change.
However despite negativity by some , the CWU is perfectly positioned to get the best deal for the membership because our members understand that a strong CWU is in their best interests.
So recognise the Joint Statement for what it is ! An important breakthrough in our long dispute . However the negotiations on all the detail will now start !
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