Royal Mail Property & Facilities members to strike on ThursdayDecember 13 2022
P&FS members, who keep Royal Mail company premises clean and safe, will be striking for the third time…
CWU outdoor secretary Mark Baulch represents P&FS cleaners, while Carl Maden is the union’s national officer for engineers and admin grades within this part of the business and have been involved in separate negotiations with this RMPFSL’s senior management team over the past few months.
“P&FS is a separate bargaining unit,” says Carl. “However, it can get frustrating when we feel we’re making progress with P&FS management, but then it would appear that they have to go back to Group for approval – which we believe has proved to be the stumbling block several times in this set of negotiations.
“There’s a real irony here – and a major source of frustration at times.”
On pay, the current position is that engineers and admin grades have been offered 4 per cent on basic pay with ‘strings’, which has been rejected as insufficient in the circumstances. The majority of our national cleaners received the increase in April to the Real Living Wage Foundation (RLWF) rate, although those working in London and mobile cleaners have received either no rise at all or very little increases so far during this current pay year.
Explaining this, Mark says: “The business made a formal commitment back in March, in writing and fully documented, that the RLW uplift would be applied outside of the formal pay talks and ‘without prejudice’ to the 2022/23 annual pay negotiations. But then in June they told staff that they would receive no further cost-of-living pay rise in this financial year as they were awarded the RLWF adjustment in April, directly contradicting that promise.
“We believe that due to the extreme cost-of-living crisis being experienced, P&FS should, at the very least, bring forward and pay next year’s RLWF recommended increases and also increase pay for those members who didn’t benefit from this. In addition, the pay rates set by the RLWF should be the absolute minimum our members receive.”
As well as seeking a fair deal on pay, the CWU is determined to achieve full parity for P&FS members with their Royal Mail Group colleagues – on pensions, maternity and paternity leave, annual leave and annual leave pay arrangements.
Carl and Mark have been making every effort to shift the company’s position through patient negotiations since June. however, they were left with no alternative but to call a strike ballot, which returned a 93.5 per cent YES vote for action at the end of September.
In October, with insufficient progress having been made through talks, the union called P&FS members out on strike and this Thursday will be their third day of action.
“We’ve tried right up to the last to try to avoid this action,” says Mark. “We’ve been in talks with the business today. But they do not seem willing – or perhaps able – to agree with us a fair resolution on pay or an agreed pathway on harmonisation. So, the strike goes ahead on Thursday and I’m sure the rest of our Royal Mail members will make them very welcome on the picket lines.”
Carl agreed, saying: “Mark and I have been attempting to reach an agreement, meeting with P&FS senior management and putting proposals forward. Unfortunately, it seems P&FS’s actions are not as serious as they say, as we have run out of time for now and the action will proceed.
“We’re sure our P&FS members will solidly support the strike and hopefully this can persuade the business to make a fair offer.”
National CWU RMPFS reps Eleanor Hipson and Ged Garside told CWU News that their members are ready to resume their action.
Eleanor, who represents cleaners, said: “We’re looking forward to coming out on Thursday. We want that fair deal on pay and we also want harmonisation with the rest of Royal Mail on pensions.” Eleanor, who is based in Scotland, added that there is a planned demonstration at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday as well and that, having been unable to get down to last Friday’s huge London rally, she was looking forward to the Edinburgh protest.
Engineering rep Ged, from Manchester, told us that his members “are all up for it. We need a decent pay deal and everyone should be able to have equal access to the same pension rights as the whole of Royal Mail Group – it’s the only fair way.
“Our P&FS members were solid last time we came out and I’m confident we’ll be solid again this time.”