Working hard in delivery to put revisions right

Postal, Royal Mail Group (EMP)

CWU News caught up with Outdoor Secretary Mark Baulch in Aberdeen last week, as he visited yet another unit where our members, and our customers, have been let down by poor planning and support…

“Out of the 348 structural revisions deployed, the majority of these are currently undertaking their post-implementation review (PIR),” said Mark, speaking to us from Mastrick Delivery Office, on the western edge of the Granite City.

“And of course, there are a variety of reasons why. In some instances, it’s a clear lack of resource – not enough people being recruited, or not getting new people in quickly enough, or not adequately training new starters – but here it looks like straightforward mistakes in planning and fixes not being put in place quickly enough.”

In response to the volume growth in parcels and packets and the changed mail mix, new dedicated parcel routes (DPRs) have been introduced in offices right across the delivery network and here at Mastrick there are now five DPRs.

Typically, DPRs take all items larger than a shoebox out of an office’s core delivery and the non-DPR walks are then adjusted accordingly, but, as area delivery rep George Ross explains: “The walks that have been produced are overspan. Over the agreed span.”

On investigation, it was found that a high percentage of the smaller packets and parcels left behind on the core deliveries are too big for the letter box, making knocks on customer doors necessary – a time factor that has not been properly built into the newly revised core duties.

One of the reasons for this mistake, and other shortcomings, may lie with the repeated changes in leadership here, George continues, telling us that, “since the revision process started here, we’ve had six different planners – and it’s that chop and change which has meant continuity has been a big problem.”

Given the many problems and difficulties, a full post-implementation review (PIR) was decided upon, but the timetabling of the start of the PIR – scheduled to begin on 1st December – clashed with the postal industry’s busiest time of the year, the pre-Christmas ‘Peak/Pressure’.

“Because that was going through Peak, very little was achieved. So basically, the PIR had still got to start. And now we’re through Peak and it would be a good time to get this all done – but there’s no planner onsite now to lead it!” says George, who is also secretary of the union’s Grampian & Shetland Branch.

“I’ve been in this role for over 20 years and, so far, this has been the worst organised revision process I’ve ever known,” he adds.

“It’s been really good to have Mark up here today though – he’s been really helpful and I’m now more optimistic that we can get this resolved.”

Mark Baulch

Mark tells us that, in his opinion, “George does a superb job as unit rep here and I must say I fully admire his patience and his determination to get all this put right for members. You can see how much members here appreciate his efforts just by walking around the shopfloor and talking to people.

“But what also becomes immediately apparent is how badly our members have been let down by management – not so much the unit manager who’s been extremely informative and helpful to me in discussing the issues, but by the managerial organisation and with the planning – which is simply once again not good enough when the revision was deployed last August!

“Royal Mail’s big pitch to us and members was to say that revisions are intended to make the delivery duties fair and manageable for everyone – but that doesn’t seem to have been achieved here so far, with some routes not achievable.

“As a union, we are pushing the company to make sure that all of these revisions get put right – and we’re continually on the case. We have also made it clear to Royal Mail that we will not be moving onto any further deployments until the process and support are improved, that all the issues in units are fixed and that PIRs are completed and signed off jointly to confirm this.”