POSTAL WORKERS across Britain start a ballot on Monday on whether to accept a major new deal on pay and conditions.
The unofficial strikes last year have greatly improved what is on offer. Many of the most outrageous proposals which management thought they could ram through after the national ballot went against strikes have now been eliminated.
The strikes had a massive impact and are the reason why bosses were forced to make concessions rather than lay down the law as they wanted. But the deal is still far from perfect. Although it is not explicit in the agreement, it undoubtedly means large job losses-around 7,000 in deliveries alone.
And at a local level some managers are going on the offensive to cut overtime hours and thereby slash pay.
The CWU union planned a national meeting for unit reps this week. The ballot closes on 26 January. The new deal puts great emphasis on local negotiation. It's urgent to strengthen rank and file organisation and networks everywhere.
The stronger the local organisation, the more possible it will be to stop job losses and demands for harder working. If enough offices do this then Royal Mail will find it tough to implement the worst aspects of the deal.
The deal: have your say
A view from a CWU union rep
WE NEED to realise that the single day delivery (SDD) system has been designed not around the customer or postal workers but from the workings of a Royal Mail calculator.
I say Royal Mail calculator, as they always seem to produce results different to an ordinary one. On paper they say I will have extra additions to my pay. But my calculations tell me I'm facing a loss of £75 a week.
Our scheduled attendance (SA) or regular overtime at Woodford Green worked before or after shift will go although lots of staff rely on this extra payment. Under SDD's cost cutting SAs will be phased out.
Also, many jobs are going and yet the workload is not reducing at all. We will absorb the work of our redundant colleagues.
I believe it's the writing on the wall if we vote yes for this. I see it like a crack in a dam, not losing water but posties each year, with the crack getting bigger and more and more posties slipping through.
As a trade union member of 34 years it has never been my policy to sell jobs to get extra pay. I cannot vote yes on this issue and I hope people follow my lead.
What's on offer
ACCORDING TO the union's leaders the key points of the agreement are:
Pay: A 4.5 percent rise and the £26.28 local pensionable supplement linked to change in an 18-month deal. The union and the employers have committed themselves to maintaining national pay bargaining.
Delivery: Royal Mail has confirmed that the targets to trigger special bonus payments will be reduced by 30 percent. Any issues arising from the process of introducing single daily deliveries will be dealt with via the Industrial Relations Framework.
Mail centres: Processing workers in the LA grade and the Operational Support grade will receive the new supplement.
London weighting: There will be a further £300 in April 2005 for Royal Mail, Logistics and RMI with earlier increases in Post Office Limited. In future years London weighting increases will be based on the increase from basic pay rises alongside a formal group-wide review (except Parcelforce) every two years.
Future industrial relations: In the previous tabled offer following the industrial action no vote, Royal Mail had included a whole section which enforced their view on how industrial relations would operate in the future. This whole section has now been removed and has been replaced by a commitment for both parties to reach agreement on a new Industrial Relations Framework by the end of March 2004.
Don't let them sack Paul Turnbull
POSTAL WORKERS across Britain are angry that Paul Turnbull, area processing rep at Cambridge mail centre, has been summarily dismissed after an incident on the picket line during the recent strikes.
He is alleged to have intimidated and threatened a driver and his passenger. One of the charges is that he allegedly said, "Why are you crossing a picket line? We're on strike."
Paul has the full support of the CWU national union which believes that the decision to sack him is wrong and does not fit the facts of the case.
Cambridge mail centre has requested a strike ballot over the issue. Cambridge workers took unofficial action to support others on strike last year and those other branches are now backing Paul.
Bob Cullen, the area processing rep for Oxfordshire says, "It is my belief that, as a result of Cambridge's valiant and unprecedented support for Oxfordshire, Royal Mail has singled out a very capable union rep. Given this unacceptable behaviour by the business an Oxfordshire mass meeting has told me to write to the national executive and request a ballot of all the offices involved in the recent dispute."
It is important that the CWU fully defends Paul and demands that he is inmediately reinstated.