‘IT’S A bad deal. I think it should be thrown out.’
That was the reaction of one delegate, Tam Dewar from Scotland, after a national meeting of area reps and branch secretaries, representing postal workers across Britain, that took place in central London yesterday.
The meeting was called to discuss the deal agreed by Communication Workers Union General Secretary Billy Hayes and Deputy General Secretary Dave Ward with the bosses of Royal Mail to call off strike action.
A second meeting on pensions will take place next Thursday.
Ward and Hayes tried to convince delegates to yesterday’s meeting to recommend the deal to their members, but many expressed their anger at the agreement the CWU leaders had made.
As delegates went into yesterday’s meeting, Saf Khan, a CWU delivery rep from Oldham and Rochdale, said: ‘Job losses is a big issue for us.
‘Why should we pay people off to leave the business and those left behind suffer with it?
‘Where there is a weak union representation the management will have a field day if flexibility comes in. In the small offices there are going to be problems.
‘Personally, I think the deal should be thrown out.’
Clive, a CWU rep from the Twickenham area, said: ‘We’re not impressed. The pensions issue is disgraceful.
‘The government should pay that because they took it as profit.’
About the threat of 40,000 redundancies, he added: ‘We’re having trouble delivering mail now, where are you going to take jobs from – there are not enough staff to do the job.’
Paul Leckey, a CWU rep from Newcastle, said: ‘It’s a deal where you can read into it what you want to read into it – and so can management.
‘They’ve used executive action all over the place – in Newcastle as well – which is still in place. The agreement doesn’t take it away.
‘They’ve imposed new measures all over the country.’
Mickey, a CWU rep from London, said: ‘I want to hear what the union executive have got to say.
‘I’m very concerned. The whole package concerns me.’
Tony, a rep from Hertfordshire, said: ‘I want to hear the full details of the deal from the executive.’
Deputy General Secretary Dave Ward claimed that ‘it’s not the deal Royal Mail wanted’, as he opened yesterday’s meeting.
He spoke about Phase 3 (‘Transforming the way we work’) as ‘the most difficult part of the agreement’, as well as changes that would require local negotiations.
Delegates to yesterday’s meeting said that if the union followed Ward and Hayes and accepted the agreement with Royal Mail, then there would be ‘office by office’ battles over changes to postmen’s working conditions.
‘We’ve been sold down the river,’ one remarked.
‘Managers will say to postmen: “if you don’t like the job, go part-time’’.’
Another CWU rep said: ‘We should give no more money to the Labour Party while Gordon Brown is prime minister.’
‘We’re not happy with the deal at all,’ said another.
Others said that sackings and suspensions of union representatives were taking place all over the country.
In the discussion at yesterday’s meeting, one delegate, who was warmly applauded, remarked: ‘Our members are facing all kinds of weird and wonderful start times.’
Another said: ‘I remember standing outside the gates in 1996, saying we’re not going to have flexibility.
‘What we’re giving up, for what we’re getting in return – that’s the key to the whole thing.’
Other delegates coming out of the meeting raised the issue of start times.
Jim McKechnie, secretary of Glasgow and District Amal. branch of the CWU, said: ‘We’re going to have another briefing on pensions next Thursday.
‘The meeting today is about the Royal Mail pay deal and changes to terms and conditions, flexible working etc.
‘We’ll go back and meet with our own reps and make a recommendation to our members either to accept or reject.’
One delegate yesterday said: ‘The deal is rubbish and should be rejected.
‘It doesn’t cover all the issues that need resolving like pensions, MTSF and door to doors.
‘The flexibility that Royal Mail is seeking will be determined by how managers use it in local offices.
‘We’re being told it’s optional at the moment, but we don’t believe that’s how managers will see it.
‘We believe they will try and force you to work extra if that’s what they want you to do, you can be pretty sure of it – dead certain if the experience of the past 12 months is anything to go by!’
The Royal Mail branches of the CWU will now decide whether to recommend acceptance or rejection of the deal before around 130,000 members vote on it.
There was opposition on many issues amongst delegates yesterday.
One delegate said there was a ‘lot of bad feeling’ and said he thought that there would be a recommendation to reject the deal.
And another CWU rep described the situation in Royal Mail as ‘the worst I’ve known it for 25 years’.
Tam Dewar, CWU rep from south-west Scotland, said: ‘For delivery workers it’s a bad deal.
‘It effectively means a pay cut and an increase in workload.
‘Personally I think it should be thrown out.’
Alan Walsh, Watford CWU branch secretary, said: ‘I thought the meeting was okay, but I thought there would be stronger voices against the deal.
‘I don’t think one divisional representative got up and spoke against the deal.
‘I don’t know whether they’ve been told to shut up.
‘We’ve got to make a decision in our branch next week.
‘From the consensus I’ve heard I think it will probably be rejected by the activists.
‘Personally, I think the deal isn’t good enough and I’m very concerned about the question of pensions.’