Postal workers across the country have overwhelmingly voted in favour of two national agreements, the ‘agenda for growth, stability and long-term success’, along with a new pension agreement. Both votes were around 95% for to 5% against.
These votes should be viewed against the backdrop of Royal Mail being privatised and CWU members’ fear of attack on their terms and conditions.
Already the current management style has members living in fear of intimidation and bullying.
Members clearly viewed that 3% backdated from last April, 3% from this April and most likely 2.8% the following April – allowing for inflation amounting to 9.06% over three years – is a reasonable pay deal.
The national union leadership has made great play of achieving a “legally binding” agreement on terms and conditions.
These safeguards mean that if the company sells off or franchises any part of the company, the collectively agreed terms and conditions will not worsen.
There will be the aim of no compulsory redundancies and no one will be forced to change their hours of employment unless they volunteer to.
The company plans to remain an employer of predominately full-time workers.
This can only be changed if something ‘ground breaking’ was to happen. It is not certain what this means but it could be a threat to us taking national strike action in the future.
The CWU could take the employer to court for breaking the national agreement.
But the bosses’ courts have never been friends of the workers. The only way we can defend the interests of our members will be through our industrial strength.
The CWU has been viewed as one of the most combative unions – at least in the postal side. So this deal can be a major danger.
The new governance arrangements say that the CWU will have a chance to participate in the running of the business.
The union will now be involved in making decisions that could affect our members. So it could become viewed as part of the management.
Just as dangerous are “new ways of resolving disputes” which includes no binding mediation. This could cause delays in members being able to defend their terms and conditions.
There is a danger a mood for action could be dissipated by delay. But also our members could take more unofficial action in the future.
What is not in the agreement has been causing the greatest concern. Management have been creating havoc with their bullying style, forcing through unagreed changes. So important aspects like workload still need to be properly negotiated.
The mostly likely outcome of this agreement will be a period of relative stability. But management will eventually go back on the offensive.
That’s why it is vital that we prepare for the period ahead. We must learn the lessons of the past in the postal side of the union, where we have never had an organised left wing.
This should start at this year’s conference. We must start laying the ground work for a fighting programme and fighting candidates for the national executive committee.