Staff involvement and local input are key to delivery solutions

Postal, Royal Mail Group (EMP)

From the north of Scotland last week, down to York this week, outdoor secretary Mark Baulch continues with his visits of UK delivery units, supporting local and area reps to resolve revision and other issues…

“The difference between success and failure is workforce involvement in the process,” says York & District area delivery rep Dave Dowling, speaking to CWU News after a visit from Mark Baulch yesterday.

With 11 delivery offices (D.O.s) and one scale payment delivery office (SPDO) across his patch, Dave has been involved with three structural and nine tabletop revisions over the past year and recruitment problems have been a common issue in the area.

“Here at York and also at Birch Park D.O. there’s an ongoing struggle to recruit – and a further issue with retention of new starters as well,” he explains, adding that at the York unit there are also difficulties with a shortage of delivery vehicles.

Unit rep Daryl Bateson points out that there are “191 staff in post with currently eight vacancies, although this is better than it was – we did have 18 – and the company is pushing the Friends & Family initiative. But the problem is people don’t seem to want to work for Royal Mail and we need to find things we can do better to attract workers.”

On the subject of retention, Daryl talked about induction training and the need for “massive improvement” in that area, as well as to the role of the workplace coach.

At national level, Mark told us that Royal Mail have said they want to talk to the union about the current agreement, about coaching and “refreshing and revising” the roles and the process, as an important element of making sure new recruits are properly inducted and trained for their duties and that they stay retained with the company. 

There are positives here, Daryl says, with nine dedicated parcel routes (DPRs) here and the introduction of Sunday deliveries along with “some innovative duty structures.”

But staffing and vehicle availability are the key drag factors and both Daryl and Dave are focussing on working through these issues.

“The approach we’ve adopted has been to get members involved,” says Dave, adding: “We also need flexibility in terms of how we make use of the planning tools and for me, those are the two crucial factors to avoid disaster.”

Mark makes the point that the unit rep and area rep here have both “worked exceptionally hard for the members and I’m impressed by the sheer amount of effort they’re both putting in here.

“We know there are never any easy answers and that it takes a lot of determination to get things changed for the better – and where we do make progress, this is down to people like Daryl, Dave and Neil Gibson and of course the support of our frontline members.

“We’re all focussed on fixing delivery problems and we’ll keep on doing this right across the country.”