Socialist Worker

Letter from London CWU union

Issue No. 2164

A MESSAGE FROM THE LONDON DIVISION

Dear Colleague,

We are writing to all Branches and senior activists within the union to outline the attacks which the London membership are facing at the hands of Royal Mail, backed by this Labour Government.

We feel it is necessary to do this because there have been a number of cynical comments doing the rounds that this dispute was solely about London looking to achieve a deal for London only.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

This dispute is about the future of our industry, our jobs and our livelihoods and whether or not we continue to have union representation in every workplace backed up and supported by an effective and influential national union. As far as London is concerned the dispute is about these things. Nothing more, nothing less.

BACKGROUND

At a Joint Postal Executive/Divisional Representatives meeting in December 2008 it was recommended that there should be no savings agreed by any office until there was a National Agreement on the future of Deliveries, Mail Centres and Network. We also agreed that any national agreement must include a new approach on Pay and Benefits.

The Postal Executive agreed this position at a statutory Postal Executive. Bob Gibson, the National Outdoor Assistant Secretary, informed all Branches and Area Representatives that the policy was no more savings at a National briefing at Friend’s House in January. This was followed up by further Divisional Representatives meetings and Delivery Reference group meetings.

The London Divisional Committee, consisting of all London Branches in all functions unanimously decided that no savings would be agreed and if management imposed any executive action then we would ballot the whole division for strike action.

When management subsequently took executive action in the City of London (EC) Delivery Office we applied for a ballot across the Division. The National Postal Executive decided to ballot London on the basis of a National response to Royal Mail’s attacks on the whole of UK and in pursuance of a National Agreement on the future of the industry.

THE ATTACKS ON LONDON

The London membership produced a 91% yes vote for strike action.

In pursuance of the National Agreement and as a response to the most concerted attack on Jobs and terms and conditions in history London has, to date, taken 5 days of Industrial Action.

Management have taken executive action in over 50 offices in London and we have received a further 28 statements of intent.

The levels of Job reductions ranges from 6% to 33% in each workplace.

One example of what is going on in London are at Mount Pleasant where management have given notice of executive action on removing 250 Jobs from the Mail Centre.

This can not be done by voluntary means and will lead to compulsory transfers to delivery offices, this is despite the fact that staff do not want to go to delivery offices.

In addition we have delivery offices where they have removed a third of Jobs by executive action. Management have also given notice in these offices that they intend to introduce Geo route revisions in October.

Others units in London have received proposals for the introduction of over 40% part timers. This effectively means that full timers will be compulsorily transferred. This will mean that with all offices receiving similar proposals it is inevitable that in the very near future we will reach a tipping point whereby there will be no full time jobs to be transferred into. Moreover they are making members on fixed term contracts redundant.

Furthermore they have given notice of the removal of all 4 day weeks despite agreeing these duty patterns under the Phase 2 audit process.

Royal Mail’s removal of 4 day weeks which affects around 1800 individuals within London means that these individuals will have to work an extra 46 days per year and in a lot of cases are losing up to £6000 per year.

Faced with this attack we have CWU members in London who face losing their homes solely because Royal Mail refuse to recognise 4 day weeks despite only agreeing them last year under innovative duty patterns.

EXECUTIVE ACTION

Thus far Royal Mail have imposed revisions or issued notices of intent in all the following offices: South London Mail Centre, Mount Pleasant, EC Delivery, W1, WC, SW1, SW6, SW7, SW11, SW13, SW14, SW15, SW16, SW17, SW18, SW19, SW20, W2, W3, W4, W5, W6, W7, W8, W9, W10, W11, W12, NW1, NW2, NW3, NW4, NW5, NW6, NW7, NW8, NW9, NW10, NW11, NW12, SE1, SE18, E1, E3, plus most of the distribution hubs.

In addition they are imposing Network 2009 in all our VOCs. This week they decided to conduct a re-sign of duties by putting names in a hat rather than by seniority. This has resulted in two people with a total of 66 years service between them being without a job.

REMOVAL OF LOCAL AGREEMENTS

Royal Mail has ripped up the phase 2 local agreements section of the Pay and Modernisation agreement which dealt with moving staff to local offices and flexibility.

They are now moving individuals on a daily basis to offices miles away from their parent office in order to antagonise individuals and to provoke a reaction from the union.

We are also seeing Royal Mail remove individuals from duties regardless of seniority in order to use those duties for walk absorption. This is clearly in breach of Phase 3 of the pay and modernisation agreement.

BULLYING AND INTIMIDATION

In short, Royal Mail has declared war on the London membership.

On a daily basis we are seeing individual’s taken off pay for failing to complete their deliveries.

In a lot of cases these individuals, many of whom have worked on deliveries for years and have never been in any trouble before, have been taken down the conduct code and charged with wilful delay.

Offices have been swamped by managers from every part of the UK who man mark our members and bully them.

We have also seen collections and Mail Centre staff being sent to delivery offices and threatened with the conduct code if they refuse.

Only last week one individual, who had just been presented with his 30 year long service award, had to bring some work back as he could not complete. In line with the conduct code he informed management prior to going out on delivery, but they still suspended him from delivery and are attempting to do him for wilful delay.

Undoubtedly, Royal Mail management’s aim is to create a climate of fear in London in order to drive through their destructive plans on jobs and conditions.

BREAKING THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS FRAMEWORK

Royal Mail is actively attempting to sideline the CWU in London by refusing to reognise the interfaces on the industrial relations framework.

They are having cluster DOMs perform stage 2s and DSMs stage 3s.

They have refused a point of principle and are implementing revisions without going through stages 2 and 3 of the I.R. Framework

PUNISHMENT CHARTER

Royal Mail has introduced arbitrary sanctions against the East London mail centre. This was over a spontaneous walk out that happened when the area reps were at conference in Bournemouth. London Management have let it be known that they intend to remove all local agreements and are transferring 40% of East London outward work to other offices on a daily basis.

The East London membership has started to work safely and management cannot clear and are threatening to take staff off pay on a daily basis. They have now told the Area Distribution Rep that they are going to remove him from his union position for 90 days. This is clearly a move to de-recognise the CWU in the East London Mail Centre.

LONDON DIVERSIONS

Management are diverting London`s work to all parts of the country. Not only on strike days, but also on non strike days. We realise that Mail Centres which have capacity will have to perform this work. However it is disappointing that some mail centres are actually putting on extra shifts and overtime to perform these diversions.

In London we believe that this is fundamentally wrong and certainly not in the spirit of trade unionism.

We thank the vast majority of mail centres who have contacted us and have played the game. However those others, and you know who you are, should be ashamed.

HALF DAYS

All members in London recently received a letter from management stating that if they took strike action for part of a day they would lose a full day’s pay. They apparently have the right to do this under a law passed in the 1870’s and this goes to show the vindictiveness and just how much contempt and venom Royal Mail has for its work force.

CONCLUSION

Despite all these attacks and the constant bullying and harassment of individuals, the London membership has stood solidly together, shoulder to shoulder with each other and with the other parts of the country leading this fight. The membership in London is determined to fight for an agreement that secures a future for all our members in all functions across the UK.

THE LONDON MEMBERSHIP WILL NOT TAKE ONE BACKWARD STEP IN SUPPORT OF OUR NATIONAL UNION.

It is vital that the CWU wins this dispute. In London we are determined to ensure, along with our colleagues taking strike action around the UK, that we continue the fight in the lead up to the National ballot and will do everything within our power to secure a massive yes vote in the forthcoming ballot.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Walsh / Mark Palfrey / John Simkins

London Divisional Representatives


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