Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/620/9361
Postal workers call for 'no' vote on deal
Communication Workers Union (CWU) members in Royal Mail are currently being balloted on whether or not to accept the proposals made in the document 'Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond'. The document is the result of months of negotiations between the CWU and Royal Mail management following national strike action in the second half of 2009. The Socialist spoke to postal workers in Coventry, Portsmouth and Lancashire to find their take on the deal:
"The overwhelming mood in my office is negative. This is mainly because delivery staff could lose £20+ a week when Door2Door [junk mail] (D2D) is included in workload. There is also suspicion over management's willingness to build a new relationship with the union. There are too many 'rogue' managers around and the question of bullying and harassment by management has not been addressed by the agreement.
"On the positive side, the agreement appears to guarantee full time jobs and, if adhered to by management, the CWU should be involved in shaping the changes in delivery and introduction of new technology. This is a major step forward won by strike action last year. The major stumbling block is that the majority of members will end up worse off if this deal is accepted."
"Particularly hard hit are the 50,000 or so staff in deliveries, who could see their wages cut by up to £1,000 a year while taking on an awful lot more work.
"This will mostly consist of the explosion in unaddressed D2D items for which staff can currently receive up to £35 a week for delivering a maximum of three different sets, on top of basic pay. Under the agreement, this cap will be removed, raising the possibility of staff delivering an unlimited number of leaflets for a weekly, unpensionable flat rate supplement of £20.60, of which £12 is already paid out as an early shift allowance. This is on top of the proposed increase in the size and length of rounds, which will become at least half as big again to facilitate the aim of five-hour delivery spans.
"In addition, and apart from having us trudging round the streets for five hours a day (once indoor work is completed) delivering leaflets no-one wants, Royal Mail and the union would like us to work an extra four to five hours on Saturdays, thereby further shortening an already truncated weekend and making a mockery of Royal Mail's 'family friendly' policy.
"Some people may say 'what about the bonuses?' Well around half the money allocated for this element of the deal is already due to the workers as part of Alan Leighton's phoney 'colleague share' scam, sorry scheme. But workers everywhere are more interested in increased pensionable pay, not one-off handouts from phoney share schemes, or unpensionable supplements which can be removed at any time.
"Billy Hayes [CWU general secretary] has stated he will continue to support New Labour, even though they refuse to do anything about the £10 billion black hole in the pension fund, which is a result of Royal Mail not paying into it for 15 years.
"The unelected Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson kept telling the workers to get back to work during our dispute, while stating this year that they 'deplore' the 'unjustified' strikes at British Airways. Mr Hayes also says he will continue to fund New Labour rather than campaign for the establishment of a new workers' party because such a campaign has 'nil influence'. As if the unions have any influence over New Labour now!"
"Our branch is recommending a 'no' vote; I've heard Bristol and London were recommending this from quite early on. A lot of people are worried down here because in the South East region we've quite a high volume in terms of D2D items, which is where we'll lose the money. I've not heard anyone speak favourably about the agreement."
Socialist Party members in the CWU are recommending a 'no' vote in the ballot - postal workers proved last year they are prepared to fight to defend services, terms and conditions. They deserve better than what this deal offers. The ballot runs until 23 April.
Meeting for Socialist Party members in CWU
9 May 12-3pm, central London.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details, or ring 020 8988 8768
In The Socialist 14 April 2010:
Socialist Party manifesto 2010
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party election campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party features