4 things to strongly support – reasons why you must vote Yes – a personal view on the Royal Mail ballotOctober 15 2015
It has been a while since I last blogged for CWU Youth. Having done exactly what we want the Youth movement to achieve I have gone on to another position in the Union as a Branch Secretary and I have been rather busy doing that role…. Moving over and leaving space for the next generation to come through.
A big part of my job in the last few weeks has been working on the consultative ballot taking place in Royal Mail; and I thought, as a formerly prolific CWU Youth blogger, it was time I dusted down my keyboard and got down to writing about this massive issue.
The bottom line is there has probably never been such a collection of issues and challenges facing the CWU in Royal Mail. The very future of our industry, company and jobs is on the line and it is so important that our young postal members participate in the consultative ballot and vote Yes on all four questions. I’d like to talk a little about these issues one by one.
Pay, let’s be honest, is the reason we all come to work in the morning. Our union has put in the very reasonable pay claim to have a two year, above inflation, pay rise that flows through to overtime and allowances. Royal Mail are claiming that there is no money to fund a pay rise.
For me at least this represents an insult to all of our intelligences. Royal Mail have just proudly announced a £400 million record profit. Our chief executive Moya Greene has awarded herself a half a million pound bonus. Tens of millions of pounds have been peed down the drain on so called “world class mails”, people being told how to walk down stairs, park their car, walk around a corner. It is a wonder they haven’t tried to tell us how to do our morning business!
There is money in Royal Mail flowing around freely. And as we are the people who have done the work to generate this money it is only right that we should be entitled to our slice.
In many quarters Royal Mail seem entirely driven by arbitrary budgetary savings (try saying that ten times fast!), senior managers seem to pick a budget figure out of the air and expect an office to be able to work to that, regardless of how much work is in the office.
The bottom line is; the CWU believes we need to construct our work duties on the basis of a fair day’s work, for a fair day’s pay. This doesn’t mean as a union we have our head in the sand about the financial challenges the postal industry has. It just means we don’t think decisions about a postman’s workload, or how many Mail Centres we need shouldn’t be plucked out of the air to fit an entirely arbitrary budget target.
Until Royal Mail can commit to measuring CWU work properly, to agree to a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, we should not co-operate with their destructive savings-lead agenda.
Boycott of Competitors Mail
In all the many members meetings I have done this is probably the issue that has caused the most questions. But particularly for our Young Members, those with the longest postal careers in front of them, this is a massively important issue.
In the time since “Down Stream Access” competitor mail came in we have gone from having over 70 Mail Centres to having around 35. This is no coincidence as money has gone out of Royal Mail to competitors due to a rigged market , and CWU jobs have gone with it.
For all Royal Mail may trumpet the money they have made from DSA recently (and it is surely better than a loss) that still represents a challenge to our industry and jobs. Every penny made by our competitors from the rigged DSA market is a penny not in the pot for our wages, terms and conditions, job security and pensions.
But far more of an issue than DSA is the challenge caused by what is called “Bypass Mail” what TNT is now doing in London. TNT are delivering mail “end to end” in parts of London. In some respects we might wonder why that is important to us?
The problem is that Royal Mail are one of the most heavily regulated companies in the UK, we have the Universal Service Obligation. That means we have to deliver to every address in the UK, six days a week at a uniform price. I think this is a good thing, and so does our union. It is good for our country, our society and our jobs.
TNT (and by extension any new bypass mail provider) have no such obligations. They can deliver what they want, when they want, how they want, where they want and charge whatever they want. Without any of the costly and difficult obligations on us as a company.
If they are allowed to get away with this it means they can cherry pick all the profitable business in the postal industry, whilst taking on none of the risks or obligations that Royal Mail has. If they are allowed to get away with this then there is no viable future for our company, our industry, our jobs, or the universal service as we know it.
If we don’t stand together and challenge this we are signing a death warrant on our jobs and out future. And we have to support the boycott policy to put pressure on the regulator and the government to challenge this.
And we need to be clear this works. In total contravention of what we think the regulator OfCom’s role should be (to defend universal service), they recently consulted on moving to a five day a week service. After the CWU announced our boycott policy OfCom were running scared and weeks later they changed their mind and upheld the six day a week service. This shows we can change things and put pressure on them.
I’m sure even some of our newest youth members are suffering from a bit of Dj Vu here. This is the 4th time in twenty years our industry has faced privatisation. It is the fourth time in twenty years we have been told that it is a “done deal” and there is no point in opposing it. And I am sure it will be the fourth time that we send the government packing with their tail between their legs having failed again. We have won before and we can win again.
Privatisation would be disastrous for the country, our industry and all of us working for Royal Mail. Despite what the propagandists in the company will try and tell you; new owners would look to attack the universal service (as they have done in Holland), they will look to attack our terms and conditions. And we have already seen a privatisation inspired attack on our pensions.
Private companies always look to attack workers’ rights, they look to break up companies and outsource whatever they can . They will try and move to a part time, de-unionised workforce on minimum wage and we have to stop them.
There are already cracks in the government. Influential right wing pressure groups like the Bow Group have recently written to Tory MPs urging them to oppose privatisation. The coalition is in shambles. Even the Labour party are finally waking up to the issue and are coming out against privatisation. If our members send a loud message we can win this and we all need to vote Yes to support the union’s anti privatisation message to achieve this.
Lastly on the “shares” that the government are going to try and bribe us with. £1500 worth of shares (which it looks like we are going to have to buy ourselves now) against attacks on our wages, pensions, holiday, terms and conditions, full time hours is a poor deal. And last time we were promised some phoney shares we were let down badly. Colleague Share should tell us all everything we need to know about how Royal Mail and the government can be trusted on this.
So that is it, these four things are vital to our future, particularly for young people with long careers in Royal Mail ahead of them. Please Vote Yes on all four questions and encourage all your workmates to do the same.
Plymouth and East Cornwall Amal