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CWU reps are coming together next week in national meetings to discuss vital issues in Royal Mail and Parcelforce. It’s becoming clear as every day passes that postal workers represented by the CWU are heading for strike action against a newly installed, openly anti-union management.
Just over a year ago, the Four Pillars agreement was signed. It was viewed by almost everyone as a victory for the CWU. One that would lead to a period of reasonable stability in a newly privatised Royal Mail and which included a path to a 35-hour week.
In addition there was a review into the culture within Royal Mail, with joint visits to units to review what was going on in the workplace.
But what has become clear to every single postal worker is that the bullying culture within Royal Mail has past breaking point. Hardly a week goes by without a workplace across the UK not taking some form of action – either official or unofficial – to defend our members against the extremes of management actions.
It’s not uncommon for them to push our members beyond breaking point. Some of the behaviours of management are beyond contempt.
It was reported this week that one member was signed off sick and on their second day off he was visited by a manager. When the member said he was too ill to speak this was met with: “You f***ing Liar”. This is not an uncommon type of behaviour around the country.
It is not a case of one or two rogue managers, it is widespread. It’s more unusual to find a reasonable manager than it is to find a bully. As such, the time for us to fight this on a unit by unit basis is now over. It must be taken up on a national level.
Since the the Four Pillars was signed we have seen a complete change in the national senior management team who signed off on the agreement. The old CEO Moyà Greene has been replaced with Rico Back, who came from GLS – a parcel company in Europe owned by Royal Mail.
He has never recognised trade unions and was paid £6 million as a welcome, despite already being employed by the Royal Mail group. Some of his first actions were to replace the so-called “doves” who negotiated the Four Pillars, with the so-called “hawks” who where sidelined during the dispute.
But only last week the hawks where not seen to be hawkish enough for him and his vision of the once great Royal Mail. They have now been removed from the company and a new group of senior managers have come in. None have any history of dealing with a trade union, so it look like the vultures have replaced the hawks
Royal Mail have announced their 5 year plan, which has many major issues for postal workers across the country. The new parcel plan and the building of three new parcels hubs will mean around 20,000 job losses across the UK. This alongside what has been announced to make Parcelforce a new separate limited company.
The membership are to be TUPE across to the new company. This is clearly a major danger to the whole of our membership as it will mean, if not overturned, the start of the complete break-up of Royal Mail. It therefore must be fought by all means. If Parcelforce was to go, what’s to stop the breaking up of the company piece by piece?
The CWU leadership have just had two days of talks with Royal Mail where the management have agreed that we are in dispute with them. As part of the national agreement it now goes to external mediation. But in the words of of Deputy General Secretary Postal Terry Pullinger, the mood and words are showing all the signs that we are heading towards a national dispute.
Our members are due another one hour reduction from the working week this October but its clear Royal Mail want this at no cost and want to use PDA actual to do this, which is completely against the Four Pillars agreement. They want the postal worker to work at 100%, 100% of the time. This is completely impossible and would mean running our members into the ground. It is completely unacceptable
We are heading towards a dispute. A fight that will be about whose interests the business is run. Is it for big business and the vultures of capitalism or about providing a public service?
We now must be visiting every single workplace, speaking to our membership and preparing them for the fight ahead. We must make it clear to management they too are heading for a fight where there will be only one winner – and that will be the union.
We took on all the previous CEOs and chased them away. We should prepare to hit them hard right away, if we require to, with action over and above a 24-hour stoppage
There is also a political view that we need to push, as I did in my election material for the recent NEC and PEC election. I said that it not enough for us to campaign for Labour to renationalise Royal Mail, we must go further and call for all the senior management to be completely removed as they have no interest in running a public service. We need complete workers’ and community control of the once great Royal Mail.