At work, postal workers continue to make demands around the provision of PPE, and the implementation of adequate distancing measures at work.
The walkouts that have taken place around the country have built up pressure around these demands, and they have largely been achieved in the offices where I work, with PPE being provided and staggered shift times in place to ensure numbers in the workplace don’t exceed levels at which it’s possible to distance safely. We also want to stop delivering junk mail, and prioritise essential personal mail.
There was a short walkout at one of the offices I work at recently, in protest at an imposed change to our shift patterns, which would have forced people to move their days off. Management eventually backed off. It shows the power that action can have.
The CWU has done well in terms of maintaining communication with members, with daily WhatsApp message, live streams on Facebook, and Zoom calls with officials. That’s all good, and it ensures members feel informed, but it’s all one way. There’s not much opportunity there for members to discuss, have our say, and take ownership over the direction of the union.
Royal Mail has made a unilateral announcement that it was revising the “Universal Service Obligation” (USO), which commits the company to providing a postal service to all parts of the country, six days a week, down to five days, by eliminating Saturday deliveries.
They came to this decision without any sort of prior consultation with the union. While they claimed they had consulted with Ofcom, the government body which regulates the postal service, this doesn’t actually appear to have been the case.
The company presented this as a measure that would benefit postal workers by reducing our workload, but many of my workmates saw this as a precursor and a pretext for what they plan to do next. If mail is delivered on fewer days, the company will say they need fewer workers.
Rico Back, the Royal Mail CEO, has written to the CWU giving various guarantees, including that the revision of the USO will only be for six weeks, and that no jobs will be lost. The CWU leadership has hailed that as a “breakthrough agreement”, but we should absolutely not trust the company on this. We need to be prepared to fight to hold them to those commitments.