Royal Mail tells cleaners: ‘No pay rise for you!’


Angry CWU negotiators slam pay betrayal of company’s lowest-paid workers and accuse bosses of ‘broken promises’…

Hundreds of workers who clean Royal Mail premises around the UK have been told they will receive no cost-of-living pay rise in this financial year if they were awarded a Real Living Wage (RLW) adjustment in April, directly contradicting a promise by the business not to link the two.

Coming out of talks with the senior leadership of Royal Mail’s Property and Facilities Solutions (P&FS) division today, CWU national officer Mark Baulch said: “I’m absolutely gobsmacked. They 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.

“Here we are, just over three months later and yet another Royal Mail promise has been wilfully broken – it’s an absolute disgrace. How can we have any confidence in these talks when they give their word only to break it in such a short time.”

From 2000 until 2016, the property and facilities functions were carried out on a semi-outsourced basis under the auspices of ‘ROMEC’, which was partly owned by Royal Mail and partly owned by private companies. Following a long campaign led by the CWU, Royal Mail brought the whole operation back in-house in 2016, existing employees were kept on and the division was rebranded as RMP&FS. However, negotiations over pay, terms and conditions have continued to function separately, although the CWU position is to move towards full harmonisation.

Around 1,400 are employed within RMP&FS, some 350 of them are engineers who repair and maintain the buildings , while a smaller number work in admin and the remaining approximately 1,000 staff are responsible for keeping the estate clean and hygienic.

“These women and men did an absolutely superb job during the pandemic,” Mark continued, “performing extra duties, more extensive cleans and extra site visits when required and it’s fair to say that, without their efforts this company would not have been able to keep in operation. Delivery offices, mail centres, VOCs and RDCs alike would have been closed on safety grounds.

“The RLW uplift was not a cost-of-living award, it was an adjustment that righted a longstanding wrong. We were insistent at the time that it must not be confused with the annual pay talks and the P&FS management gave us the formal assurance in writing, to which they have also signed up to, that it would not be. Sadly, their promise has been shown to have been pretty worthless.”

Mark explained that “only a very small proportion” of the company’s cleaners were offered an increase, “but that’s another insult in itself – they’re offering this small group of mobile cleaners an increase of just 50p per hour, whilst our members across London received very little, or no benefit whatsoever in their pay from the RLW implementation.

“To say I’m angry is the understatement of the year – I’m fuming! And at next Thursday’s P&FS reps’ briefing I expect they’ll be fuming too and I’m expecting that we’ll move towards an industrial action ballot on this,” said Mark,

While Mark represents RMP&FS cleaners, CWU national officer Carl Maden represents engineers and admin workers and, for them, the pay deal offered is the same as that which was rejected – and imposed – in the rest of RMG.

“As we’ve said to Royal Mail Group already, 2 per cent is unacceptable, it’s an insult and it comes nowhere near meeting the needs and aspirations of our members,” commented Carl. “At this time, a full-on industrial action ballot is looking inevitable.

“Our engineers and admin members have been unfairly treated for far too long. They’re not paid enough for the superb work they do and it’s not on.

“Our members need and deserve a fair pay award and if the company continue to refuse, we will be into strike action.”