Thought this may be useful to any new reps
THOUGHT SOME NEW REPS MAY FIND THIS USEFUL
The CWU is made up of 300,000 members in Postal & Telecom businesses. We represent Royal Mail, Parcelforce, Post Office Network, British Telecom, Quadrant, Logistics Solutions, ROMEC and many more Postal Business units and cable companies. In 1992 the Postal union UCW and the Telecom union NCU merged to become the CWU. We are the fifth largest union in the UK and the second largest Telecomm union in Europe.
As a workplace Rep you have taken up the challenge to represent your colleagues, we thank you for your assistance in keeping all our members informed and involved. The purpose of this booklet is to give you an insight into what sort of issues you will become involved in and how to deal with them. Do not be alarmed at the apparent complexities, as your branch will facilitate training at the earliest opportunity. We have a training school in Alvescot owned by your union in which you will be trained initially over one week and then as required in all union matters to assist you.
At times you will feel harassed and frustrated at some of the situations you will encounter. Do not worry help is at hand. There are a great many ways the branch will assist you.
Notice Boards are located in all CWU workplaces and it is your responsibility to make sure that all relevant and current information is displayed to assist members. You will receive a weekly CWU Briefing, which is not for display as sensitive information is sometimes included, this is for your information and you will also receive documents for display on the notice boards at regular intervals. The Branch or your senior reps may write to you on confidential matters and these items will be marked "In Confidence". There will be many occasions when you will have access to information of a sensitive nature and these matters must be kept in confidence between yourself and the member concerned. Also the CWU has a National Web Site www.cwu.org/representation
As the local CWU Rep it will be your main task to represent members of our union in Conduct Code matters and Attendance Code matters. You will need to meet with the member concerned prior to the planned management meeting Asses the facts and build a case of mitigation. This can seem daunting however your fellow reps can assist you. The task involves many different matters that you will come to know as you progress and set out for you below is an example of an Attendance Stage I interview process.
Member approaches you to assist when he/she receives a letter asking them to attend a Stage I Attendance Interview. Arrange to meet in a quite private place and sit down with member to discuss situation and plan your representation. You have a right to time off in work time to prepare for meetings. You will need their Sickness Absence Print out from Personnel, they must ask for this as the Data Protection Act is usually used if you attempt to get it yourself. Next you must assess how much absence is involved and if it falls within the criteria of above and beyond the Core Standards set out in the Attendance Procedure. These guidelines are very strict and to win your case you must prove one of several different things.
Firstly is there an underlying Medical Problem. The member may have Asthma or Diabetes etc and as such you can try to get them registered with the employers EHS department as registered disabled under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. This will protect your member to a certain degree in future sickness, as absences related to DDA will normally be discounted. Normally is the precautionary word in this case. If your member then goes on to take considerable numbers of absences for the disability then the Post Office will write formally to the member to inform them that from now on these absences will be counted as they deem it is effecting their ability to sustain Core Standards of Attendance.
It may well be that the employer has included an Industrial Injury in the absences counted towards your members Stage I warning. Accidents on duty or Industrial Injuries will normally be discounted. Yet again we see the word Normally. The only reason for Industrial Injury to be counted is if the member has been negligent and breached health and safety rules. If this is the case, ask for notes on the investigation, and if necessary challenge these notes with your members assistance. There may be personal and private reasons why your member has been absent from work. Put your member at ease by explaining your commitment to confidentiality and express the need to know everything relevant to assist them. You may find personal life problems have over spilled into work. You can use this information, with the members consent to assist you in maximizing your members case. Formulate all you have learnt into notes for the meeting and do not be afraid to approach any other CWU official for help or assistance, they were once new too! The stronger your case the more likely that you can achieve your main goal to get the line manager to rescind the warning, he or she should be reminded that they have the right to rescind the warning if mitigation is strong enough. Another tip is to coach your member on what needs to be said to assist your representation and remind them not to loose their temper in the meeting.
You may have from time to time have to represent members in Conduct Code issues. The Conduct code is meant to be used as a means to assist members into conduct required by the employer and this should include counseling and should be used to assist not purely as a punitive code. However by the time the Conduct Code has been instigated management will be formalizing their approach to the employee. This is one of the most difficult areas of your new role and senior rep assistance should always be sought. There are a multitude of offences in the post office that you can be charged with for example;
Willful Delay is a Government statue that was born in 1953 and has been a regular offence that employees have faced in the post office it is serious and can lead to dismissal. In 1998 a new sub offence was added of unexcused delay slightly less severe but equally complex.
Gross Misconduct. Theft, Violence, Harassment, Intoxication from Drink or Drug abuse all can lead to dismissal. These matters should be dealt with by senior officials but at the early stages you will need to collate information to assist at the formal later stages. All of this list and more can lead to summary dismissal i.e. instant dismissal.
You have a right to be consulted and informed on all issues that effect your member's terms and conditions from resourcing to OT & SA and from Duties to internal business changes. Regular meetings with your line manager are essential to create an atmosphere where change can be approached from a position of an informed and involved perspective. If you are involved in a collective bargaining matter please keep your Area Rep informed. The Area Reps are kept informed from CWU HQ on National Agreements, Trials, Problem areas and a whole lot more they have access to a wide spectrum of information and therefore can ensure that you are not put in a position where you agree to a business change locally only to find out that it has not been agreed either locally or nationally by the CWU. There is a procedure that is agreed by the CWU and Royal Mail called the Industrial Relations Framework. In short it sets out how you can effectively reach local agreement as well as how to react if you disagree. After several meetings on one topic you may feel you are getting nowhere and have reached an impasse. A simple letter setting out the areas of disagreement between you as the CWU Rep and the Line manager should state that you have reached an impasse and that in line with the IR Framework you are passing the matter to your Area Rep for further negotiations. This in no way reflects on your abilities to negotiate but puts the matter in other peoples hands one step away from the unit. It can be that if you are both strongly opposed to each other's position a fresh approach can achieve results. Also it should be noted that this formal approach can lead to a far more cooperative relationship as local managers will be keen to keep matters in house, therefore they will see your involvement as important and relevant to local agreement and good practice.
As the CWU rep for your unit you will come to find out personal detail concerning your members, In Confidence business information, In Confidence CWU information etcâ€¦ It is imperative that you keep these matters to yourself and your fellow Reps. The union is tasked with keeping such confidence and to breach this part of your responsibility could lead to serious consequences. Our members trust us to keep such matters as are required to ourselves and not adhering to this would lead to membership not wishing to confide in us as reps.
As and when training opportunities arise your Area Rep will be advised and asked to suggest reps that require such training, the branch will try to use it's influence at CWU HQ to facilitate such training is offered. There may be schools that come up that are of relevance to specific individuals only, these will be allocated after advice has been sought from your senior reps. In this branch we try to allocate the schools to the reps using the skills required and as such for example a school on the impact of The Human Rights Act would firstly be offered to the Equality officer etc To complement training by CWU HQ the branch will be running seminars on different topics throughout the year. We try to use local knowledge from long standing Senior Reps coupled with National Officers and Divisional reps. In the past we have run seminars on PO Pensions, DDA and Disability, Harassment, Way Forward, Conduct Code and Attendance. The Branch will continue to offer this complementary training as well as push for National Training to be made more freely available. If you have any specific ideas on local training that would assist you in your role please contact the branch.
Your attendance at meetings called throughout the year would be greatly appreciated. The branch realises that in many cases these meetings although important are in your own time, however your attendance will mean that your members will receive up to date direct input from an informed source, you! If you have childcare needs that need to be considered please contact the branch, likewise if you have travelling difficulties give us a call, we can help. From time to time you will need to meet your members and a good relationship with your local manager will assist in this matter. We are an intense time sensitive business and sometimes it may not be possible to meet at the time you desire but later when the business is quieter. Another approach would be to tag CWU meetings to the Work Time Learning slot (by Agreement) Another option if matters have become fraught is to have an off site meeting, the branch will facilitate this for you. You may find the prospect of such meetings daunting, your Area Rep can assist you and after you have done this a few times it becomes less stressful. Good communication between you and your members will allow you to develop a support structure that will add to the negotiating strength you need to achieve.