Socialist Worker

Royal Mail walk sequencing

Lee Barron, branch secretary of Northamptonshire CWU branch, explains why Royal Mail’s threat to impose new technology without agreement, in the wake of an imposed pay deal, is an important issue.

Issue No. 2007

‘The business is actively planning to heavily invest in a new piece of technology – walk sequencing machines.

They intend to trial two versions of this technology from different suppliers.

Once they have completed the trials they will make a strategic decision to purchase around 1,000 machines from their preferred supplier. These will then be installed at mail centres and delivery offices over the next three years.

The machines are designed to remove the need for mail (excluding packets) to be manually sorted at delivery offices or mail centres. Walk sequencing, if introduced in the way Royal Mail is planning, will destroy the balance between full time and part time jobs.

The business believes that in the future there will be around 70 percent part time jobs and 30 percent full time.

The business wants to adopt the “Dutch Model” used in the Dutch post office.

This would mean one full time employee would complete the preparation of around six deliveries, and then deliver their own round. The other five deliveries would be delivered by part time employees, who may not even be required to attend the delivery office as their round could be transported to their home address.

Walk sequencing machines have been installed in the Birmingham mail centre and West Bromwich delivery office.

The business has not agreed a terms of reference with the union for the trials, let alone started negotiations on a national agreement. It all boils down to this question: What will CWU members defend – agreements or imposition?’

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Article information

Sat 1 Jul 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2007
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