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National briefing.

28 Mar 2007, 22:53

TO: ALL BRANCHES WITH POSTAL MEMBERS

Dear Colleague


NATIONAL BRIEFING

Following the National Briefing we promised to let Branches have details of the recent decisions taken by the Postal Executive on the issues of Pay and Efficiency, Royal Mail Strategic Plan and Pensions.

PAY AND EFFICIENCY

Negotiation on this year’s Pay Claim recommenced on Friday 23rd March and several more meetings have been arranged for week ending the 31st March.

The Union’s Pay Claim is for an increase that achieves the UK average basic pay for OPGs. We are currently researching the figure, which last year stood at £395 per week. The claim also calls for any pay increase to flow through to all shifts, responsibilities, Scottish Distance Islands Allowance and all other allowances, recognising that this can only be achieve by new investment, efficiency and simplifying the existing pay package. We are also looking to protect any loss of Early Shift Allowances on an ongoing basis.

We are seeking a comparable pay increase for all other grades covered by this pay round, including Engineers, LA’s and MDEC keyers and we are prepared to consider a long term settlement to:



· achieve our policies

· provide stability to the company

· take on the challenge of competition.



The Union is seeking the introduction of a 35 hour net working week, improved annual leave, and sick pay for new entrants in line with Conference policy and ending all discrimination in relation to part time workers terms and conditions.

Improvements are being sought in maternity, paternity, adopted leave and child care provision. We are seeking a review of RRIS payments including extending them to areas which meet the payment criteria. The claim includes a re-evaluation of the grading of MDEC keyers and the removal of the 16 and 17 year old pay rates which we believe are no longer relevant and could be contrary to the Age Discrimination Legislation.

The Union is seeking a fresh approach to LA/Admin Grades pay and remuneration to safeguard their future role in the company.

On efficiency, we need to consolidate the lump sums already paid into basic pay and finalise those monies owed from the 2nd quarter onwards.

A new agreement covering efficiency and our member’s share of any savings, including non-staff savings when the current deal ends in April 2007 is also required. Any new agreement must be based on agreed, achievable and realistic targets.

The claim also includes an increase in all overtime and scheduled attendance rates to reflect increased work demands and to ensure full coverage during unsociable working periods.

As communicated to the National Briefing, Branches are reminded that in line with the PEC decision, the Union has a policy of non cooperation on future savings from the 1 April 2007 unless a suitable agreement can be reached. Branch Secretaries are required to ensure that this is brought to the attention of all Unit and Area Representatives.



PENSIONS

The National Briefing was informed that the Union is developing its strategy to protect our members’ pension arrangements. Royal Mail have announced that in line with the terms of the Pension Act 2004, they intend to enter into a six month consultation period on the future of the ‘Final Salary Pension Scheme’ for existing employees. There will be a separate consultation on replacing the Final Salary Scheme for new entrants. These consultations are expected to begin in April 2007.

Royal Mail claim that the background to this is increased competition, resulting from the imposition of stringent regulatory constraints by Postcomm. Operating losses have doubled to £4 million a week in Post Office Limited following the loss of Government contracts to handle pensions and benefits business.

According to Royal Mail, Alistair Darling Secretary of State for Trade and Industry fully supports their business strategy which includes £1.2 billion debt facility for Royal Mail, £1.7 billion for POL Network Reconstruction and £1 billion to give security to the Pension Fund Trustees held in a secure (escrow) account.

The Union is determined to defend the Final Salary Pension Scheme for both current and future members. The Postal Executive have agreed a number of measures to assist the Union in doing this. We have engaged Hilary Salt of ‘First Actuarial’ a well respected firm of Pension Consultants and Actuaries with good Trade Union connections to advise us. We are seeking a presentation from Gerry DeGaute Chief Executive of the Trustees. The Chair of the Trustees has confirmed that Royal Mail’s announcement claiming a deficit of £6.6 billion refers to an accounting deficit not an actual pension fund deficit, which is £3.4 billion.

We will be taking part in the consultation on the basis of negotiating a Terms of Reference and protecting the Union’s right to negotiate any subsequent proposals. A Pensions Working Group has been established by the Union and will be comprised of the following:



2 National Officers

3 PEC members

2 Union Trustees

Hilary Salt – First Actuarial



Furthermore, the PEC have agreed to launch a campaign to change the basis of the Commercial Agreement between Government and Royal Mail to ensure pension protection is prioritised over Phantom Shares. This campaign will be coordinated with the General Secretary’ department as part of our overall strategy and suitable campaign material will be provided to Branches.



ROYAL MAIL STRATEGIC PLAN



Royal Mail have provided the Union with details of their Strategic Plan, due to be delivered over the next four years. Whilst much of this information has been provided in commercial confidence the broad outlines are as follows:



· It is estimated that the number of Mail Centres will reduce from 69 to 64 in the next four years.

· There will be major purchases of new equipment and the upgrade of existing machinery.

· Letter automation will be introduced as part of Royal Mail’s plans to build an improved National Postal infrastructure.

· Improved production control and better layouts to produce more mail sorted to a greater depth by Mail Centres.

· Walk Sequencing, changes to outdoor delivery methods and the introduction of delivery aids and changes to the routing methods will also form part of their Strategic Plan.



This will all have a significant impact on the workload left to be done in Delivery Offices.

This strategy is underpinned by the investment secured on the basis of the Commercial Agreement between the company and the Government set at £1.2 billion.

In order to improve our negotiating position the PEC has agreed that there will be no cooperation with Royal Mail on any further revision activity linked to efficiency or Work Plan activity, including no agreed changes to attendance times until the Union has secured a suitable National Agreement. There will be no further cooperation with any efficiency/savings measures linked to Royal Mail’s budget until a new remuneration agreement has been reached. In order that the Union can deal with all these issues in the wider context of Royal Mail’s Letters Strategy the Union will seek a moratorium on any Mail Centre Closures.


Yours sincerely

Dave Ward

Deputy General Secretary (P)


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