When Royal Mail sent out a letter to staff back in January to explain the difference beteween wilful delay of the mail and unexcused delay, it looked like trouble was coming. Sure enough, the new conduct code is already being used to intimidate postal workers and union representatives, as management apply it to their own ends, often in an arbitrary and discriminatory way. This is against the background of the company's bigger project, starting with the Delivery Agreement last year (which opened the door to earlier start times), and continuing with the latest Performance Bonus Scheme (stepping up the treadmill of more work being pushed out faster and earlier).
Top management are now quite honest about what they want from us. Head of Royal Mail London Letters, Brian Moore, told Area reps at a recent briefing that they could forget the current delivery structures, duty structures and streaming. In his Brave New Post Office, 90-95% of mail would go out on the first delivery, and the latest start time would be 0515. Most offices currently operate 1 over 1 deliveries - Moore wants a minimum 2 over 1 (ie: a single second delivery covers 2 first deliveries). And what happens to the other walks? Well, they'd be indoors, sorting and prepping for the next day (ASAP). But ASAP will only last as long as the current MLO, then what happens in a couple of year's time when they have the technology to replace it - one delivery, everyone an AG...?
Meanwhile on planet earth, we know that 0930 last letter for most offices is a fantasy, and a 95/5 split would require a bag drop every 100 - maybe every 50 - calls. But our Brian will not be dissuaded. He says, because of the (very narrow) Yes vote in the PBS ballot, he has the absolute right to do what he wants. And he knows that he has the full support of the union leaders like Derek Hodgson and John Keggie behind him. All that stands in his way are the branches and their members, so no surprise that Royal Mail have wasted no time in attacking us. Below are just a few examples of what is happening daily in workplaces up and down the country:
- North London Mail Centre - In a reckless swipe at the union, managers brought conduct code charges against no less than eight processing reps.
Every single case fell due to the wrong procedures being used.
- Finsbury Park, N4 - Managers used the new conduct code to try to victimise the union rep of the office. Again, the case collapsed because they failed to use the correct procedure.
- Lower Edmonton, N9 - Management undermine branch policy by introducing delivery duties with earlier start times.
- Processing - Bosses plan to move international traffic from The Mount, at a cost of 1400 jobs. Future of other Mail Centre, including the Northern in doubt.
Coventry, Derby and Nuneaton Delivery Offices have balloted for industrial action following a massive breakdown in industrial relations. Since February, Royal Mail Midland's "Austerity Measures" have meant a deterioration of members' conditions and public service - eg: once over the ground being applied on a regular basis just to save money.
Management have notified the union's Divisional representative that they intend to formally commence a discipline case against him, solely on the basis that a request was made to HQ for official industrial action due to management taking executive action (ie, introducing changes to agreed working practices without negotiation or agreement.) The situation is now so accute that CWU Midlands division have ceased co-operation and involvement in PBS.
Such blatant assults on the union's rank and file must not be tollerated. Postal workers must organise on the ground for the inevitable battles ahead. Remember that despite the brave words from top managers, most local governors haven't got a clue how they're going to make the scheme work. We have the advantage of local knowledge on our side, and the company can't implement a single revision without it. Whatever Royal Mail's vision of the future, we must stick to our long-standing demands:
- All bonus schemes are a con - we need a real uplift in basic pay!
- For a 35 hour, 5 day working week - no strings!