CWU updates on Royal Mail dispute

Richard Stuart-Turner
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has updated on its dispute with Royal Mail, after it responded to a video posted by the postal operator last week.

The High Court halted industrial action at Royal Mail in November
The High Court halted industrial action at Royal Mail in November

The High Court halted industrial action at Royal Mail in November when it declared unlawful the CWU’s ballot for action over grievances about job security and the terms and conditions of their employment.

In its video uploaded last Thursday (2 January), Royal Mail national service delivery director Ricky McAulay said: “We’ve agreed with the CWU to hold mutual interest talks and we’re planning to start those next week.

“Royal Mail and the CWU actually agree on a lot of things already; we want Royal Mail to be successful. That’s the only way we can ensure the good quality jobs are there for everyone who can and wants to work for Royal Mail.

“We approached the CWU with the offer of these talks and we’re really pleased the union have accepted. These talks are an important way of getting back in the room and discussing how jointly we can deliver our Journey 2024 strategy.

“In order to get these talks underway, Royal Mail agreed to defer the TUPE transfer of Parcelforce employees. Royal Mail also agreed that the dispute resolution process in respect of the CWU’s Point of Principle dispute have been concluded.

“We all know that letter volume is down 50% since 2004 and we know that the parcel market is very competitive. These are changes that we need to get on with. We’re looking forward to the talks, we want Royal Mail to be a big success and that’s very much what we’re working towards.”

In a video released yesterday (7 January), CWU deputy general secretary (postal) Terry Pullinger responded: “We held a briefing in Liverpool just before the Christmas break and the postal executive had made the decision that it is appropriate that we re-enter talks with the employer and try not only to progress to an agreement, but try to seriously address the negative culture that seems to be growing and growing in this industry.

“Of course we want an agreement; we don’t go into a dispute because we want to be permanently in dispute. We want to make an agreement, but the right agreement. One that honours our heritage and honours our previous agreement, as well as dealing with the challenges we face in the future.

“So we have agreed to re-enter those talks and we have agreed that they would need a period of calm. In terms of any re-ballot, we have said that we are prepared to reflect on where we are at the end of February, to give these talks some chance and to take some pressure off.”

He added: “But of course they are also going to require Royal Mail to make some drastic changes in some of the cultural stuff as well. We believe people are being treated wrongly in regard to the Conduct Code. People being sacked immediately after Christmas, even though they were kept on to do the Christmas pressure period.

“There are things going on out there in a number of different places which are unacceptable and the company, if it doesn’t understand, needs to understand that we will always protect our members.”

Pullinger said the CWU’s senior negotiating team will meet with Royal Mail next week “to start seeing how we’re going to structure these talks, move things forward and identify some of the issues that we think would be really positive if we could change some of the stuff that’s going on out there and enable these talks to be successful”.

He added: “Don’t think for one minute that this dispute is over; if these talks are not successful then we absolutely will be re-balloting our members, and if these talks break down our members will understand why they broke down and once again our members will have the opportunity to either back their trade union or choose management.

“And we will be absolutely transparent with what goes on in those negotiations and with any of the issues that are going on outside that may affect our ability to make progress.”

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