The CWU Postal Executive voted by 9-5 to recommend acceptance of the deal with Royal Mail. As well as the five votes against, including the union President Jane Loftus, three National Officers (those responsible for mail centres, delivery and logistics) also refused to endorse it. SOLIDARITY interviewed Dave Warren, one of the five, who is calling for a broad based No campaign and for the members to reject the deal.
You can download this interview as a leaflet in PDF form Reject the deal
A capitulation to management’s agenda
Why did you vote against the deal?
I voted against the deal because it is a capitulation to management’s agenda. They have got the majority of what they wanted in exchange for a meagre increase in pay. The union has conceded the employers’ position almost completely on flexibility. Local reps are going to be forced into agreeing “efficiency deals” with managers – that will mean the same amount of work being done in fewer hours as well as the loss of jobs.
The trials of new working practices are to be linked to pay. So if the changes are not implemented, 1.5 percent of the agreed pay rise will not be paid.
In addition there could be scheduling of long and short days. Workers will have to work shorter hours on days when it suits the company, and longer hours when mail volumes are higher – something up to now the union has always opposed.
Management will be able to vary the day by 30 minutes. They will be able to extend workers’ shifts when it suits them.
The aim of these changes is to get everyone to work harder, and to cut overtime payments.
So far as the pension is concerned, after 2010, you will only be able to retire on full benefits at age 65. For manual workers who do a physically demanding job this is a big issue. Changing our pension scheme from a final salary scheme to one that is based on career average earnings will almost certainly have the effect of reducing benefits for many.
The wage increase quoted as 6.9% over 18 months is just not true. The real figure is 5.4% over 2 years – well below inflation.
We have also lost our ESOS (efficiency) bonus scheme, and many opportunities to earn overtime.
The framework of the agreement seems to be acceptance of the management’s agenda for ‘winning in the market place’.
Yes, the Leaders of our union have decided to embrace liberalisation and agree the company’s agenda rather than fighting it.
What do you think will be the consequences for the members of the CWU if the deal is voted through?
Well, it won’t be the end, but it will be the beginning of the end for the union as an independent force. Reps will be forced to implement the management’s agenda, and many will resign rather than do so. We already have a shortage of reps in many areas.
Management want a tame house union, like the old EEPTU (Electrical Union), whose job is to discipline the workforce in line with the management’s aims. The idea that management will be nice to us if we sign an agreement is ridiculous. We have just recently had a lot of requests for local industrial action where management is simply trying to impose changes.
Our members have been magnificent and have been absolutely solid throughout the strikes. We cannot let them down now. There needs to be a broad based campaign to reject the deal. The key is fighting to get the branches to recommend rejection.