REJECT ROYAL MAIL PAY AND MODERNISATION AGREEMENT – Defend pay, pensions and conditions of service

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CWU leaders BILLY HAYES and DAVE WARD joined pickets at Mandela Way on the first of the series of strikes on June 29th
CWU leaders BILLY HAYES and DAVE WARD joined pickets at Mandela Way on the first of the series of strikes on June 29th

POSTAL WORKERS fighting the Crozier/Leighton onslaught on their jobs will treat the ‘Final Agreement’, backed by the CWU executive on Monday by nine votes to five, as a betrayal.

The ‘CWU AND ROYAL MAIL PAY AND MODERNISATION AGREEMENT – APRIL 2007/2009’ will now go to a ballot of the 130,000 members of the union.

The ‘introduction’ to the deal makes clear that it is all about speed-up for the workers and a junior business partnership role for the CWU bureaucracy.

Although pensions are not mentioned, it is also about allowing the destruction of decent pensions for postal workers, all of them, not just the new starters.

And although the numbers of job losses aren’t mentioned, at least 40,000 jobs are still under threat.

The agreed ‘INTRODUCTION’ reads:

‘In order for Royal Mail to thrive as a business and to ensure that it remains able to compete effectively it is recognised that change is going to have to happen at a scale and at a pace never experienced before.

‘Both Royal Mail and CWU are jointly committed to working together to deliver that change by agreement, continuing to protect jobs (in line with our commitments in MTSF) and provide high quality terms and conditions for all employees.

‘Both parties recognise that a fresh start is needed and are committed to moving away from the adversarial relationships that persist in too many parts of the business.’

It makes clear that it intends that ‘EMPLOYEE PAY AND BENEFITS’ are to be dependent on ‘modernisation’ and ‘flexibility’.

‘A pay increase of 5.4 per cent for all grades’ from 1st October translates into just 2.5 per cent in the financial year from April 2007 to March 2008.

We are informed that payments will be made to those who work in offices that meet flexibility demands from Royal Mail, but not to those that don’t.

‘£400 of the potential ColleagueShares dividend payment will be made in April 2008 to offices which have completed their deployment of the agreed unit plan in Phase 2 of the modernisation process.

‘The remaining potential dividend payment from ColleagueShares scheme over this year and next, split as follows:

‘£400 for achievement of Group profit in 2007/08.

‘£200 for achievement of the local target for 2008/09.

‘£200 for achievement of Group profit in 2008/09.

‘April 2008: A 1.5 per cent increase for all grades on basic pay (including London pay ranges), weekday overtime and Scottish Distant Islands Allowance only.

‘This payment will be made locally when the flexibility defined as Phase 3 in Section Two of this agreement has been implemented.

‘ESOS will be closed immediately and the pot has been exhausted (subject to the ongoing joint audit) but will continue to accrue monies from the automation projects and closure plans already in the scheme at 10 October 2007.

‘The next pay review will be April 2009.’

So the 1.5 per cent increase next April will not be paid to workers in those offices that have not implemented the ‘flexibility’.

We then get down to the real nitty gritty of the deal.

‘DELIVERING CHANGE AND FLEXIBILITY’ announces: ‘Change is to be shaped and implemented in four phases’.

‘Phase 1 – Immediate Operational Changes.

‘Royal Mail has introduced later start times for operational reasons. CWU note these changes.

‘Given that there has been little or no opportunity for discussion about these changes at local level, both Royal Mail and CWU are committed to resolve any outstanding issues.

‘Royal Mail and CWU will urgently review these arrangements at local level in line with the following:

‘Henceforth the normal start times will be between 0600 and 0630.’

These ‘later start times’ mean later finish times, imposed by Royal Mail on low paid workers with child care commitments, leading to the two week unofficial strike by 1,000 Merseyside CWU members which continued while the Executive was deliberating over the deal last week.

The ‘deal’ announces the end of Sunday collections.

‘The CWU note that ROYAL MAIL will cease Sunday collections from 21st October.’

Next the deal implies CWU reps will be expected to act as police to discipline members in the introduction of ‘flexible’, ‘generic’ working.

‘Phase 2 – Enabling local Flexibility’ says: ‘in order to become a competitive and responsive business’, employees must ‘adapt at pace’.

‘All offices will jointly draw up an agreed plan to be implemented by the end of January 2008 to enable local flexibility’ with ‘objectives’ including ‘To improve efficiency and company profitability.’

It continues: ‘The two key strands in this modernisation package are:

‘New technology – As the new £1.2 billion investment equipment is rolled out; Royal Mail is committed to providing a comprehensive training programme to ensure a safe and effective operation and improve the working environment which will provide opportunities for new ways of working.

‘In conjunction with this, CWU and employees will be fully involved in trial activities.

‘There will need to be a generic deployment framework agreed by Royal Mail and CWU by the end of January 2008 to deal with the trialling and implementation of all new technology and automation.

‘New ways of working – Employees will be treated fairly, with respect, and will be expected to be flexible.’

It goes on to describe some of the ‘flexibility’ required from postal workers under the sell-out deal.

‘Longs and shorts – a structural change where the normal work pattern may be rebalanced across the week to reflect the traffic profile.

‘For example, individuals could be scheduled to work seven hours on a Tuesday and nine hours on a Friday. Total weekly contractual hours would not change.’

Time and motion regimes are to police ‘modern’ postal workers under the plan.

‘Use of new technology – full cooperation and support for trials and subsequent deployment of new technology will take place, for example: iLSMs, walk sequencing, RDC automation, D2D automation, telemetry in area fleets, handhelds, collection handshake and materials handling. There will also be early deployment of flats automation, semi automated packet sorting and delivery method improvements.’

Local managements are required to introduce a regime under which staff can be sent to ‘work in nearby offices’.

It continues: ‘Innovative Duty Structures: Units will take the opportunity to review existing duty structures and identify innovative approaches to meet the above objectives.

‘Doing other work within your office: On occasions staff may be asked to undertake other work outside their normal duties.’

‘Phase 3 – Transforming the way we work

‘Both parties are committed to introducing new ways of working throughout the business by April 2008.

‘In order to achieve this there will be a trial in four offices per AGM area covering the following:

‘New arrangements to cover for one another and develop sensible options to absorb absences, and increased workload, where time exists within normal hours. To ensure all paid work hours are utilised.’

Pay if you cooperate: ‘Local offices will be entitled to the 1.5 per cent pay increase from 7 April 2008 subject to deployment of these new arrangements,’ not if you don’t: ‘Any offices where deployment is deferred will receive the additional 1.5 per cent from the date of deployment.’

Finally in ‘PHASE 4’ a small army of middle ranking CWU officers will be required to man a group of ‘working parties’ to plan the future of ‘the business’.

‘To assist development of a fourth Phase of Royal Mail modernisation, consultation and negotiation will now take place in the following working groups.

‘The intention is for these joint working groups to develop national agreements, where appropriate, by no later than the end of April 2008, to be deployed as soon as possible thereafter.

‘Joint Working Group 1 – Relationships. Will consider how to improve industrial relations within Royal Mail, including arrangements for negotiation, consultation and decision-making, the management of change, personnel procedures and practices covering issues like attendance, conduct and performance management . . .

‘Joint Working Group 2 – New Reward Framework will examine pay simplification possibilities (within the existing pay bill), a new pay and reward package, different pay models, reviewing on what the local element of the ColleagueShare dividend for years 2 and 3 will be based and MTSF. The Group will also consider how to implement monthly pay . . .

‘Joint Working Group 3 – Future working. This group will look at the business’ future mail centre / delivery / network strategies and have an opportunity to input to them.’

Not mentioned in this sell-out deal is the question of pensions. Its exclusion means that a separate deal has already been made on the issue.

On Monday Adam Crozier announced that ‘among the key points agreed’ are ‘the union’s support for the company’s overall proposed pension reform.

‘Royal Mail’s proposals include:

‘• Closing the final salary scheme to new members from 31 January 2008 and replacing it with a Defined Contribution scheme;

‘• Protecting our existing employees’ pension pots built up before 1 April 2008, including keeping the link to final salary;

‘• Introducing a Career Average Defined Benefit scheme for our existing employees from 1 April 2008;

‘• Moving the normal retirement age from 60 to 65 from 1 April 2010.’

Final salary pensions for all employees are to be terminated by April 1, 2008!

Since these changes in pensions are not included in the ‘Final Agreement’ it means they are not subject to the ballot which has just been announced.

Yesterday the CWU confirmed that ‘pension reform has been formally de-coupled from the pay deal’.

CWU members have waged a series of strikes against the plans of Royal Mail to impose slave labour conditions, with each strike being more powerful and solid than the previous one, reflecting the hardening of members’ determination not to be beaten.

The last three months of struggle revealed the two major opposites in the CWU trade union, the major force, the membership, that has battled long and hard to defeat the plans of Royal Mail, and its opposite, the union leadership that from day one has wanted to surrender.

It is now clear to all the membership that these reformist, careerist leaders are good for nothing when it comes to fighting the bosses and the government.

CWU members must throw out the sell-out deal and demand the resignation of the Ward/Hayes leadership.

There must be a new leadership in the union, one that is prepared to call national indefinite strike action and to organise a public sector alliance that will call a general strike to beat the bosses and bring down the Brown bankers’ government, to go forward to a workers government and socialism.