‘Headcount reduction’ with no ‘unresolved surplus’ – under Royal Mail deal

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THE leaders of the CWU are backing the deal ‘Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond – a National Agreement Between Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union’.

The deal, which has been approved by the CWU Postal Executive, would see the union ‘reform its internal structures’, in order to work together with management on the implementation of a planned wave of cuts, closures and redundancies.

This is under the guise of ‘modernisation’.

After a briefing of CWU officials this week, the deal is then due to go out to a ballot of the members in Royal Mail.

The CWU publicly confirmed that a deal had been struck on Monday night.

This follows the cancellation of national strike action last year.

Under Job Security/Managing the Change, the ‘Business Transformation’ document says: ‘Royal Mail and the CWU have an excellent track record in managing major change programmes without recourse to compulsory redundancy.’

Outlining ‘key principles’, it continues: ‘The key to the above commitment is for both parties to make every effort to ensure that there are no unresolved surpluses.’

‘Unresolved surpluses’ refers to Royal Mail workers who are deemed ‘surplus’ and therefore no longer needed!

‘Of primary importance will be to continue with the professional approach to long-term resource planning, utilising normal employee turnover and where necessary early voluntary retirement and voluntary redundancy (EVR/VR).

‘A targeted approach will be adopted to allow individuals quicker access to EVR/VR in the appropriate circumstances at key points in the programme.

‘The CWU will be fully involved in all preference exercise activity in line with MTSF processes.’

(MTSF is the ‘Managing the Surplus Framework Agreement’).

‘The above-mentioned approach and the amended terms set out below will be subject to ongoing review to ensure the effective management of unresolved surpluses and cost.’

The document then says: ‘Royal Mail has explored various resourcing models for operations in a mechanised environment and in conjunction with the CWU has concluded that the best model is a flexible workforce, predominantly full time supported by part time employees.

‘The mix of full time and part time is planned to be around three quarters full time and one quarter part time by 2013….

‘Full time employees will retain full time status unless they volunteer to move to part time hours….

‘New contracts will be standardised.

‘Royal Mail and the CWU are committed to managing the transformation by giving employees professional help in making decisions about their future, with a programme of support activity.

‘This will assist the goal of managing headcount reduction without leaving unresolved surplus.’

‘Royal Mail has developed programmes currently called Clear Choice and Next Steps to do this.

‘Clear Choice has already been subject to involvement and consultation with CWU specifically in mail centres.’

The plan is to close mail centres up and down the country and sell them off, axing thousands of workers.

And the Managing the Surplus Framework Agreement is to be ‘amended’ to:

• ‘Deal with the statutory change to the Minimum Pension Age and the change in the retirement age in the Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP);

• ‘Maximise the number of volunteers for redundancy….

• ‘Best support redeployment during the transformation period’.

UNPOPULAR CANGES ARE ‘UNAVOIDABLE’ – says letter to CWU members

‘Whilst some of the changes in the proposed agreement will not be popular – everybody knows they are unavoidable with or without an agreement.’

Those words come from a letter to CWU branches about the surrender deal made by the leaders of the Communication Workers Union with the Royal Mail.

‘We all know that the introduction of new machinery will bring about job losses,’ the letter says.

‘The introduction of new machinery means there will be a standardised 6 day work plan, alongside changes in attendance times including later Saturdays….

‘On future productivity we are now able to directly influence the company’s benchmarking approach.

‘This will help us understand why there is a broad range of performance and take appropriate action.’

There will be a ‘revised revision process that involves the CWU from start to finish’ and the ‘establishment of a national review group overseeing Door to Door’ as well as ‘Joint Workshops to determine and communicate work measurement and performance standards’.

There will be a ‘rationalisation programme’ – closures – of mail centres over the next five years.

The letter says: ‘There is a structured process at Divisional, Regional and Area level to deal with proposed closures.

‘This provides the opportunity for the Union to influence the options under consideration.’

The letter goes on to say: ‘In considering the agreement, we have always said we cannot face away from change – none of us can.

‘The agreement recognises the reality of automation, competition and the financial challenges facing the company…. Fundamental to this agreement is a recognition from CWU that the communications industry is rapidly changing and that only by quickly embracing radical change and working together with Royal Mail will we secure the future for our members, customers and the company.’

The letter informs CWU branches: ‘However, prior to the agreement being placed before the membership via an individual member ballot, the Union is determined to address the pensions issue and establish whether the Government will now finally accept its responsibilities, as the owner of the company, to find an acceptable solution.

‘We will also be discussing today two amendments which have been shared with Royal Mail.

‘Although these amendments do not alter the substance of the agreement, one of them involves ensuring the integrity of the interim agreement is maintained.’