This dispute with Royal Mail Group – Through the eyes of a Parcelforce employee, Rep and young worker by Elli LongSeptember 6 2019
The purpose of this blog, as a young Parcelforce rep and employee, was to communicate just how it feels to be in the situation t we now find ourselves in and look at the challenges going forward. Let me begin by saying that in my opinion, we are looking at the defining dispute of our generation and we have the fight of our lives ahead of us. We all knew the challenges that would come eventually from working for a privatised Royal Mail Group (RMG), but till now, as a strong trade union, we have been able to keep our terms and conditions and agreements protected. Now, it seems with the new CEO Rico Back who has swept in with his new bboard there seems to be a clear intention to break the company up. So, once again we, through the power of our membership, stand up, rise again and fight back against this blatant attack to destroy our influence over the future of not only our employment protections, but our Postal Service.
I am a sub rep at Parcelforce in Liverpool and have seen first-hand the fall out since the board announced their intention to begin the process of TUPE for all Parcelforce employees. I’ve been informed of a manager telling a young Parcelforce employee: “I’ve been told TUPE will be good for you young ones”. The spread of misinformation and the lack of communication clear for everyone to see. It was in this moment, with anger building inside me that I felt obliged to put my thoughts down on paper and write this blog.
For all RMG employees, it is clear now that the board are point-blank refusing to comply with our Four Pillars agreement and The CWU believe he is starting to try and break up RMG piece by piece, starting with Parcelforce. This is clear from their plans for Parcelforce. The board wish to set up a separate limited company for Parcelforce and TUPE all its employees over. The business has said this will give Parcelforce more ‘commercial freedom’ but we don’t agree.
The Parcelforce Managing Director sent a letter to Parcelforce employees home addresses about the situation. The tone was such that we would have nothing to worry about and nothing will change. He also appeared on Royal Mail TV (RMTV) claiming nothing will change and even a Work Time Learning session (WTL) was given to staff members saying nothing will change. The CWU strongly believe that’s a false promise. At the centre of the ‘nothing will change promise’ is the acknowledgement of the legal protections. However, we now know that recently, the business has written to the CWU to bring forward the review of those legal protections. This spells obvious danger and has led to a complete breakdown of trust. Also, worth bearing in mind running alongside that, this was the same Managing Director who just a few years ago wrote to all employees, including myself, telling us that privatisation was a positive that would benefit all employees and the business. Well clearly now we are seeing more signs of how wrong they were.
It is worth remembering that RMG will not give the CWU commitment that they won’t sell off Parcelforce at some point in the future or that they won’t be looking at creating another parcel network in time.
RMG have now accepted that we are now in dispute. There has been a clear breakdown of trust and obvious breakdown of communication between our senior negotiators and the RMG senior management. Our position is clear that the CWU do not accept and will not accept this. We do not believe that it is in the best interest of all our members in RMG to make Parcelforce a limited company.
Although this is future changes it appears to be an attack on our members in Parcelforce, it is worth reiterating that this shows all the signs of being the first of many attacks on the current structure of the company and of course its employees. Therefore, there is no doubt that this dispute effects all our RMG members whichever function you work in. The message that has come from our senior CWU leadership is that today is Parcelforce, tomorrow it could be logistics and then along the line it could even be deliveries that find themselves in this position. This is why the time to stand together is now. The situation we find ourselves in now is very serious and these proposals could be the beginning of the end of the company that we know and love. As a union we must stand and shout that if you come for one of us, you come for us all.
As a young worker I understand how the thought of a national dispute can seem worrying and a lot of the language used can be technical and hard to keep up with. But, we have so much to be thankful for from being a part of the CWU. As young workers we were very much held up at the forefront of the Four Pillars Agreement with the promise that our union would not allow: “the ladder to be pulled up on the next generation” in regards to pensions and the prospect of a two-tier workforce being introduced. It is our time now to continue to put our faith into our union and stand together with those that have fought for many years to give us the benefits we have today.
I hope that other young workers reading this take some comfort in the fact that despite the seriousness of this dispute, there is some comfort to be taken from the fact that they are not alone.
Stand up for your future now before it is too late. Stand with the CWU, Vote Yes. #WeRiseAgain
By Elli Long
Greater Mersey and SW Lancs Amal Branch