|Volume 49 Number 17, October 12, 2019||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Over 100,000 postal workers in the CWU union are voting in a ballot that closes on October 15. The ballot concerns whether to take strike action over job security, terms and conditions of employment, and a culture of bullying by Royal Mail.
Royal Mail has stepped up its attacks on the rights of the postal workers since the "Four Pillars" agreement between Royal Mail and the CWU was reached last year. The CWU said that Royal Mail was "following their own agenda that will have long-term detrimental effects on our members' terms and conditions of employment, job security and the future of Royal Mail Group as a whole".
The Four Pillars agreement was one of the final acts of the former chief executive, Moya Greene, covering pay rises, pension proposals and moves to reduce working hours from 39 to 35 a week by 2022, subject to productivity improvements. The CWU has said that labour relations have worsened since Moya Greene was succeeded by Rico Back, who picked up a £6m "golden hello" for taking over at Royal Mail. Rico Back came from GLS, a parcel company that has had a history of non-unionised workers and low pay.
Royal Mail under Rico Back has attempted to disregard the Four Pillars agreement, itself a response to the privatisation of the postal service and the mantra of competition which puts the maximum profit in command, rides roughshod over the rights of the workers and ignores the public well-being. Negotiations were concluded under the Four Pillars, and a balloted agreement was reached on pay, pensions, shorter working week in a legally binding agreement. Amongst other things, Royal Mail is now proposing to hive off Parcelforce as a separate business against the agreement.
Andy Hopkins from the Postal Executive Council of the CWU said in an interview that part of the Four Pillars agreement that is being reneged on now by Royal Mail was about changing the culture in the workplace. He said, "Since Rico's tenure, this has taken a drastic turn for the worse. The spontaneous walkouts by members over managerial behaviour is commonplace at present. The culture needs to change. Working together with the unions has taken a backwards step and is affecting progression of many major technological improvements."
The postal workers are determined to defend their rights and protect their livelihoods against the attacks by Royal Mail.