Four-day week opportunities agreed at South Midlands Mail Centre


Tuesday 10th November 2020

Postal workers at South Midlands Mail Centre will have the opportunity to apply for new four-day week duties, thanks to an agreement negotiated with local management by the CWU.

Area processing rep Paul Bosworth told CWU News this morning that the new package will “create 150 opportunities, which will be advertised internally and will be allocated proportionally among early, late and night shifts.

“This will enable people on the new patterns to have either Fridays, Saturdays or Mondays off work, improving their work-life balance and giving them more time with their families,” he added.

And he explained that shifts at the Northampton site will change from an eight-hour to a 9.5-hour duty, with the extra time worked being ‘split’ between the start and end of each shift.

“This is something that local management believe will improve operational throughput and efficiency,” Paul continued, “as it is believed that this will help maintain full productivity during the ‘shift-change’ period.”

Of the total 150 opportunities – all of which are full-time roles – 33 of them will be specifically focussed on SMMC’s new parcel sort machine – which has recently been installed there – and will make this unit better equipped to deal with the large increases in volumes.

“This year’s already been extremely busy here – and the Christmas will push that even higher,” says Paul.

“But with this new agreement, at least we’re moving in the right direction in terms of looking after members’ wellbeing and also improving the operation.”

The agreement is being formally signed-off this afternoon and the advertisement of the four-day-week opportunities is set to begin as soon as possible.

Paul adds: “There is also a positive environmental impact here – in terms of reduced carbon footprint – and this agreement responds, I feel, to the question of how Royal Mail and the CWU introduce mutually beneficial change for both the business and employees alike in best adjusting to the ongoing challenges presented by the persisting coronavirus pandemic.”

Davie Robertson, CWU national industrial officer, told CWU News: What Paul and the branch have done here is to produce inventive duty patterns which meet the demands of the workload and recognise the aspirations of our members with regard to work-life balance – especially during the extremely testing Covid period.

“We strongly believe that this approach, which is entirely consistent with our national agreements, is absolutely the model for effective resourcing moving forward.” He added. 

“While the company has become ever-more seduced by computer-based resourcing programs, the CWU has long maintained that optimum resourcing solutions recognise both the aspirations of our members and the experience of our representatives, who know the operation and the people working in it. No computer models can replace that level of experience and understanding.

“Resourcing in our mail centres, each of which is entirely different in regard to workload and layout, must always recognise the local factors in reaching a mutual-interest outcome.”