Protecting jobs, fighting for our members and growing Royal Mail

Royal Mail Group (EMP)

CWU divisional representatives from all across the UK met in Liverpool yesterday to discuss the latest challenges facing our Royal Mail members. And after the briefing, our deputy general secretary Terry Pullinger gave his thoughts on the day and the key issues of the moment in an interview with CWU News…

Q: What have been the main topics here at the CWU divisional representatives’ briefing today Terry?

A: There’s so much that’s gone on since we made the agreement, so much work been done, and that’s really positive. Over a thousand revisions have been done in delivery, which has never been done in that timescale before. And in mail centres, regional distribution centres etc and in all the other functions as well – they’ve all delivered their agreements.

There will always be some difficulties, some challenges that people didn’t anticipate, such as problems with trying to get the resourcing right. Everyone knows what’s happening right now in the UK, struggling to get people in place and struggling to get HGV drivers.

We’ve discussed that and we think we’ve got answers to a lot of those questions with getting our own people within our own ranks to have opportunities to either step up and train to become LGV drivers or utilise the licence they may already have. There are also ways of incentivising people to cover the pressures we’re going to face as we’re coming up to Christmas.

So it’s never easy on the organisational side, but these are problems other companies are facing as well. The good thing is now that we are in a position to utilise the experience and knowledge of our members and our reps and be influential at the highest levels of the business.

To me, that’s positive and it’s all part of re-inventing Royal Mail for the future.

But it was always going to be difficult, it was always going to be tough, and it’s what we’ve spent today dealing with, analysing, and trying to develop solutions.

Q: There was discussion today about the new Warrington parcels hub, which is set to start fully operating next spring and also the even bigger Midlands hub a year or so further down the line, and the potential impacts. What are your thoughts on these developments?

A: Our national agreement is a growth agenda, our agreement, where before we made that agreement and before we had a new CEO, Royal Mail’s leadership strategy was all about decline and anything up to about 20,000 job losses. We’re not in that place any more and recruitment is a big issue we’re dealing with at the moment – getting people into our ranks.

We need the two parcel hubs if we’re going to grow the business, which is our desire and to grow jobs etc, get pay rises and everything else that goes with it, then we need to be successful. And key to that is having the capability to dela with more and more parcels coming through. Ad we agreed that, that we would deal with those issues.

But obviously, when you first bring them in and you’re still waiting for some of that growth, there’s going to be an impact and there’s going to be a change to the operation to some degree.

So we’re having those talks in earnest to make sure we understand exactly what the impacts are, what the solutions are, what the People’s Issues Plan is. And how we do all that in a mutual-interest way.

So, that was another good discussion today and we were certainly pleased with the feedback and people here today were glad to hear where we are and we’re now going into intense talks on those issues. To make sure we get things right.

Q: One of the themes of your contributions today was your point that you feel this is the best chance we’ve had for a long time, probably for many years, to make Royal Mail a success. Do you think this is a crucial time and an opportunity to seize?

A: Yes I do. I think it tests us with change but it also tests the managerial ranks with change. It used to be convenient I think in the past years to blame the union for everything, but clearly that wasn’t the case.

We still want it here in future generations. We don’t want Royal Mail to be spoken about in an historical context. This industry is still massively important to this country. Covid proved that.

But of course, it’s got to modernise because things have changed.

In packets and parcels, the increase in that is phenomenal. There’s money in them and we’ve got to go and get it. That’s what the business is all about and that’s what protects jobs and earnings etc.

But there are also other new products and services which we still want to develop. Other things that prove key to society in the same way as our universal service does and we want to build on that.

The contribution from Royal Mail workers during the Covid crisis has proven that we’re a fundamental part of society and there’s lots of things we could potentially offer to the people of the UK in a fair and equal way.