THE Communication Workers Union yesterday shocked its members when it wrote to Royal Mail offering to cancel the 76 per cent vote of the membership for strike action.
Dave Ward said of the union offer: ‘If Royal Mail really is sincere about reaching an agreement we expect them to take up this offer for the interests of all involved in the mail industry.’
If Royal Mail accepts this ‘peace offer’ strike action over the decisive Christmas period is ruled out.
The letter to Royal Mail states: ‘given the seriousness of the situation we are prepared to make a fresh offer that will avoid the planned strike action and assist in finding a resolution to this dispute.
‘The CWU offer comprises the following:-
‘That Royal Mail will reveal their business plan for the whole of the planned transformation programme. This will create an open environment that will allow Royal Mail and CWU to reach a three year agreement aimed at providing long term stability for the business, employees and our customers.
‘That Royal Mail recommit to the key principle which underpinned the 2007 Pay and Modernisation Agreement i.e. that “change will be introduced by agreement”. This means Royal Mail will unequivocally agree planned 2010 change, including the rollout of new walk sequencing machines.
‘That we agree, in principle, that improved Job Security arrangements and a new benefits package that rewards postal workers for delivering success for the business will form part of the final agreement.
‘That Royal Mail agrees the principle that budgets should not drive staffing levels and that what constitutes a fair day’s workload will be based on transparent and agreed standards with the Union. We should jointly consider utilising independent experts in the field of work measurement to facilitate a resolution to all workload issues.
‘That Royal Mail are prepared to step back from imposed change and resolve all current local disputes by agreement.
‘That Royal Mail agrees to an independent inquiry into the bullying and harassment of postal workers and immediately ceases the use of unagreed HR procedures.
‘That Royal Mail are prepared to jointly approach the Government on the urgent need to find a resolution to pensions and regulatory issues.
‘That the national parties clear our diaries to allow for an intense period of negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues and conclude a comprehensive national agreement.’
It adds: ‘Separately and in addition to the above offer, the Union are proposing, without any preconditions, that the national parties jointly explore the possibility of third party mediation. As well as seeking third party mediation to resolve the dispute, the Union would also be prepared to engage third party assistance to help bring about a fundamental long term improvement to industrial and employee relations.’
All Trade Unions Alliance secretary Dave Wiltshire responded to the letter saying: ‘Despite all the provocation by management, all the attacks on their members’ working conditions and the complete contempt shown by both the government and Royal Mail towards the CWU and its members, the leadership of the union are still begging for negotiations.
‘What is there to negotiate about now. Both the government and Royal Mail have made it plain that they can only countenance a mail service that is cut to the bone with thousands of jobs vanished, where the workforce that remains is so flexible that they will work unpaid overtime when required and where the union is broken.
‘This is what they are doing every day of the week already, that’s why London postal workers have been out on strike for weeks already and why a massive majority of the union nationally have voted for industrial action to put an end to these attacks.
‘The vote for national industrial action was a clear message from the membership that they demand the union use its full might to defend the service from all-out attack.
‘The immediate response of the leadership of Hayes and Ward to this demand is to collapse into a babble about third party arbitration and binding three year agreements.
‘No union in a fight to the finish can live with this kind of treachery, the removal of Ward, Hayes and all those on the Postal Executive who support them is vital if the CWU is to remain a fighting union.’
Rob Bolton, South Central number 1 commented: ‘CWU members are learning the hard way, what Royal Mail’s business plan is. It is to drive down wages and casualise the industry, it does not take a genius to work that out.
‘What CWU members want to see is the union leadership leading a fight to put an end to this situation.
‘This offer of talks does not really inspire confidence that the CWU leadership are prepared to lead that fight.
‘CWU members must demand industrial action is called immediately.’