Postal Conference 2024 – Day Two

Postal, Union Matters

Workplace concerns across RMG

Wednesday’s debates and motions addressed a wide array of workplace concerns, from the need to return to allowing reps time to meet new Royal Mail entrants, health and safety work, to the nature of Divisional decision-making and improvements over Parcelforce conditions.

Of particular note was a motion from Warrington Mail Centre addressing the need to develop a joint working group between the union and management on the current state of Royal Mail Fleet, with particular scrutinising being put on the work done by and cost of external contractors, staff recruitment and retention, and how to further develop training programmes.

Speaking on behalf of the motion, Warrington Mail Centre delegate Andy Austin said that “the wheels have fallen off” Fleet as it currently stands.

Andy argued that the union must maintain its focus in tackling the “big ticket issues” afflicting Fleet as ait currently stands, and that the proposals outlined in the motion were what was needed as part of regenerating the infrastructure of Royal Mail.

There was also strong in-camera debate over the need to resist any potential of RMPFS to withdraw paying the Real Living Wage to cleaners, an all-encompassing discussion over Royal Mail uniforms (particularly in the context of changing weather), and the need to dramatically improve the Drivers Incentive Scheme.

Older workers

Conference also discussed the need for Royal Mail to take seriously the role that older employees play in Royal Mail work environments, and how workplace management must work to ensure that older workers are considered valuable and respected – and that the work they are given matches the appropriate capabilities.

Moving a motion instructing the executive to develop a way to discuss the “increasingly demanding and physical work” faced by an ageing workforce, York and District Delegate Neil Gibson said: “Older workers make loyal, stable employees, who have given their skill over decades in the workplace.

“A new mindset will need to be considered – a mindset relating to how to maintain this workforce, and how to retain them in the duties and tasks they’re allocated.

“It needs to be ensured how workers can still contribute and work for longer, with age-related concerns needing to be considered.

“Older workers are still the workforce of the future.

“And while younger workers will look at certain flexibility for reasons such as social life and childcare, workers over 55 have other priorities such as personal health.

“Information and solutions could be provided and applied to our approach with the employer, so that they can consider different options for certain workers.”

In a similar motion about improving the Ill Health Retirement Agreement (HR) to address members’ mental health, delegate David Dowling warned that employers “are not geared up or clued up enough to put in the right support mechanisms”.

Reminding delegates that one in six “mature-aged workers” would prefer fewer hours, Dowling also added that “it is actually good for businesses” to treat older workers with this respect – “they keep experienced, knowledgeable staff.

“These are skilled workers who could be mentors to younger workers – good workers who can be kept in the workforce, who decrease recruitment costs, and who help with recruitment and retention.

“Many aspects could be explored to help people stay in work.”

Summing up for the executive, Saf Khan said that “proper adjustments that have already been agreed on a national scale are often not being adhered to by local managements”.

Saf reminded delegates that many daily problems experienced by older workers could be resolved by reintroducing attendance patterns for those who choose to take up the opportunity, and looking at walking, parcel duties and hybrid duties.

Network impacts on Scotland

Conference also unanimously voted through an emergency motion calling on the union to urge Royal Mail to act to mitigate the impacts of Network Windows changes in Scotland, which has led to much later start and finish times, a collapse in workers’ quality of life and a wider threat to full-time jobs.

Moving the motion, Glasgow & District Amal delegate John Carson said: “We in Scotland understand that changes to the Network Window are a necessary development, given competition in the industry and the need for growth in our business.

“There are also issues that are of great concern to members elsewhere in the UK.

“But if these changes go through in Scotland, we will lose service, employees, and members.

“The desperation is very real, and something needs to be done.”

John added that he does not believe Royal Mail in Scotland are “doing all they can”, adding that the extent to which they’ve “disregarded their employees’ aspirations” means that the union “must put the ball in their court.”

Supporting the motion, deputy general secretary Martin Walsh contextualised the current situation, saying that: “Just like when they close a Mail Centre or TPO, it is down to this union to resolve the changes that happen.

“Wherever I speak to members, we know later starts are a massive issue to people.

“What we’ve been trying to do is move the company, and they’ve been very nervous about going too far.

“This is the biggest change Royal Mail has ever deployed – bigger than two deliveries into one, and they often say to us – ‘when has Royal Mail ever got change right from the start’?

“They are incredibly nervous.”