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POL PAY AND THE FUTURE OF THE CROWN OFFICE NETWORK – BALLOT RESULT

 

We are pleased to report that our members working in POL Crown Offices have overwhelmingly supported their pay and job security agreement. The result of the ballot is as follows:

Votes in Favour 2496 97%

Votes Against 86 3%

Spoilt ballot papers 1

Turnout 65%

This is a ringing endorsement of our agreement and shows that whilst 93% of our members had voted to take strike action; however the majority are now satisfied with the final pay settlement secured by their Union.

Our members will now receive in their April salaries the following:

Advanced CSCs

Advanced FSs

2010/11

£431

£453

Lump Sum

£400

£400

ColleagueShare

£600

£600

TOTAL

£1431

£1453

 

Next Steps – Transformation Talks

 

We now need to focus on the ‘Transformation talks' with POL; clearly these will be tough negotiations. We will, however, endeavour to reach an agreement that secures the long term future of the Crown Office Network and provides long term job security for our members– this is our utmost priority.

Communication to Members

 

Members will shortly receive a bulletin to their home addresses advising them of the ballot result and details of arrears of pay to be received.

 

Further developments will be reported in due course.

Yours sincerely

 

Dave Ward       Andy Furey

Deputy General Secretary (P)    Assistant Secretary


 

POL DISPUTE – SETTLEMENT: PAY 2010/11 & 2011/12 AND THE FUTURE OF THE CROWN OFFICE NETWORK

We are pleased to report the Postal Executive has today endorsed a two year pay agreement, which provides a resolution to the POL pay and the future of the Crown Office Network dispute.

The full terms of the settlement are contained in the pay letter from John Duncan, HR Director, Royal Mail Group, which is attached to this LTB.

The key features of the agreement are:

Two Year Pay Agreement

Year One : 2010/11 - 2.25% consolidated and pensionable increase in basic pay fully backdated to 1 st April 2010.

Year Two : 2011/12 – 1.4% consolidated and pensionable pay increase effective from 1 st April 2011 (this increase also applies to London Weighting in line with the Royal Mail Business Transformation 2010 and Beyond).

 

 

Pay Increase

CSC Annual Salary

Current

£19,150

1/4/2010

2.25%

£19,581

1/4/2011

1.4%

£19,855

 

Overall compounded pay increase over two years: 3.68%

 

Colleague Share: £600

The agreement also contains a ColleagueShare lump sum payment of £600 (pro rata for part timers), which is in lieu of the third tranche of shares.

Obviously, this will be seen as beneficial to members given recent news. This money is payable as a direct result of the Union convincing the company in 2010, as part of Business Transformation, to change this element of the ColleagueShare Scheme.

 

Lump Sum: £400

A further lump sum of £400 (pro rata for part timers) together with ColleagueShare of £600, will be paid as a combined lump sum of £1000 with April salaries.

The overall package provides full time Customer Service Consultants with £1431 in their April Salaries (pro rata for part timers).

Future of the Crown Office Network: One Year Extension of the Guarantee

The industrial action ballot was not just about obtaining a pay rise for members. It was also linked to job security and the future of the Crown Office Network. Therefore we are pleased to have secured a one year extension of the guarantee on the existing 373 Crown Offices until March 2012. Additionally, there is a review clause within the agreement which allows a joint review in September 2011, with a view to extending the guarantee beyond March 2012.

Transformation Talks – Terms of Reference

The settlement to this dispute also contains a commitment from the Union to enter into Transformation talks. These talks had been the main hurdle originally, with POL previously refusing a pay rise until a Transformation Agreement had been reached and a flight path established to return the Crown Office Network to profitability. We have now been successful in securing a two year pay agreement

The terms of reference for the transformation talks commits the Union to engage in negotiations to reach a further agreement by no later than March 2012. The agreed terms of reference can be found at point 6 of the management letter.

Clearly, Transformation talks will not be easy, and there will be some difficult challenges to overcome to secure the long term viability of the Crown Office Network. We will be discussing new approaches and ways of working to bring the Crowns back to profitability; we are also committed to ensuring the agenda includes long term job security and enhanced terms and conditions for our members.

National Briefing

A National Briefing of representatives to explain to agreement will be held at:

Phoenix Centre, Mount Pleasant, London, WC1X 0DG

On: Wednesday 30 th March at 1pm – 3.30pm

 

All Branch Secretaries with responsibility for Crown Members, Territorial Representatives and Area Representatives are invited to attend. For Branch Secretaries t ravel and subsistence costs associated with attendance at the Briefing will be in line with the instructions and advice issued in LTB 506/04.

Ballot Timetable

The agreement will now need to be ratified by our membership. As a consequence, the following timetable has been agreed for an individual members' ballot:

Ballot Papers Dispatched: Friday 1 st April (first class post)

 

Ballot Closes: Wednesday 13th April

A short ballot timetable is necessary to enable POL to pay the arrears and lump sums to our members in the April salaries.

We would like to thank all members and Representatives for their support and patience, which has helped us secure this agreement. Territory and Area Representatives should note that POL plan to present this agreement to our members at the Work Time Learning session tomorrow morning.

This LTB should be brought to the urgent attention of all members working within POL Crown Offices.

 

Yours sincerely

Dave Ward Andy Furey

Deputy General Secretary (Postal) Assistant Secretary

 


POL: PAY 2010 & 2011 AND FUTURE
OF THE CROWN OFFICE NETWORK

We would like to inform Branches that we have met with RMG/POL today and have again made good progress with our discussions on Pay and the Future of the Crown Office Network. 

On this basis, RMG/POL have offered a 28 day extension to the life of the Industrial Action ballot, in order that further discussions can take place. In view of the progress made we have accepted this offer.

This development means that notice will not be served today as originally planned. We now have a further 28 days to consider if strike action is necessary to achieve our objectives.

We expect to be in a position early next week where we can provide more detailed information on the significant progress we have made in negotiations.

Further developments will be reported in due course. Branches are urged to bring this LTB to the attention of all Crown Office members. 

Yours sincerely

Dave Ward       Andy Furey

Deputy General Secretary (P)    Assistant Secretary


Massive ‘Yes' vote for Post Office strike

4th March 2011

Post Office workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay, job security and the future of the Crown post office network.

The ballot closed today (Friday) with 93% voting yes making the result in favour of strike action by more than 9 to 1. The turnout was 66%. CWU is now encouraging Post Office Ltd to return to talks and table a realistic pay offer for counter staff and discuss the future of the Crown network.

Dave Ward , CWU deputy general secretary, said: "Post Office workers have sent a clear message to management in this ballot that they are not prepared to take double standards when it comes to pay. However, this ballot is about more than pay; it is the job security of our members and the future of the Crown office network which is also at stake.

"We want to see a strong network of Crown offices, but the government and the company appear to be hiding the fact that they are planning a programme of further Post Office closures. Given the lack of support from the government - only yesterday taking a key benefits contract away from the Post Office - we fear for the future of the network."

Andy Furey , CWU assistant secretary, said: "Our members have effectively registered a vote of no confidence in Paula Vennells, the Post Office Managing Director. This massive YES vote demonstrates the strength of anger towards POL for attacking their pay, terms, conditions and job security.

"Although we have a mandate to take strike action, we continue to be responsible and our doors are open for POL to talk to us about a fair offer for our members."

Fresh talks are due to commence and CWU will continue to press POL to negotiate a fair and decent pay and job security agreement over the coming days.

Failure to reach an agreement could result in CWU members taking strike action by the end of March.

Ballot result:

YES votes: 2,365 - 93%
NO votes: 172 - 7%
Turnout: 66%

Background:

Post Office Ltd (POL) made increased profits of £72 million last year, awarded a 2.25 per cent pay rise to managers and increased directors' remuneration by 21 per cent (worth £3.9 million in 2009-10). However, POL has pleaded poverty and refused to consider a pay rise for counter staff.

The company is also refusing to extend a guarantee on the number of crown offices - currently at 373 - which implies that further closures are being planned.

Almost 4,000 staff across 373 offices UK-wide were balloted for strike action.

This is the first ballot of Post Office staff since summer 2007.

 


To: ALL BRANCHES WITH POSTAL MEMBERS

Dear Colleague,

POL: PAY 2010 & 2011 AND FUTURE OF THE CROWN OFFICE NETWORK –

URGENT INFORMATION – BALLOT FOR INDUSTRIAL ACTION

 

Further to LTB 137, dated 11 th February 2011, please note that due to a technical problem, the CWU has today advised POL that we have withdrawn the notice to ballot, dated 11 th February.

We have re-issued notice today (15 th February 2011) advising POL of the following ballot timetable:

Ballot Papers Dispatched: Tuesday 22 nd February

Ballot Closes: Friday 4 th March

Can you please ensure that this information is brought to the attention of all members concerned.


 


Members Meeting In Liverpool

17 March 2011

In Attendance:-

Andy Furey -       CWU Assistant Secretary Mark Walsh -      Merseyside Amal Branch Secretary Phil Callaghan –  Merseyside Amal Branch Chair Jenny Windsor – CWU Counters Area Rep Richard Barker – POL

On the 17 March 2011, all Crown Office CWU members were invited to attend a Members Meeting at the Crown Hotel, Liverpool.

The purpose of the Members Meetings is to discuss the current situation with POL concerning our pay talks and take feedback, whilst encouraging our members to vote YES!

It is important that all members understand why the Union has taken the stand it has, not just on pay but also in relation to their future job security. 

Phil opened the meeting informing members that Ballot papers will be sent out to member's home on the 22 February and the closing date on Friday 4 March.  Phil also explained that the Ballot for Industrial Action was also to protect our members Terms & Conditions.  Members were invited to listen to the debate, with Questions and Answers to follow.

CWU TV film crew attended, Phil introduced the team, and informed members that if they did not wish to be filmed during Q&A the cameras would be turned off.

Mark Walsh stated to the members that the response from POL having no money was nothing new to what we have heard before.  Andy Furey has been in talks with POL management to reach a resolution yet the talks have collapsed. 

Mark reiterated that during the 2007 dispute, the CWU generated a 90% return on ballot papers with a majority YES vote for Industrial Action.

Although across the country businesses are facing cutbacks, the cost of living has increased greatly.  Our members are struggling on a month-to-month basis, and with no Crown Protection from March 31 st 2011, The CWU wish to protect our member's jobs.

POl received a £1.34 Billion funding package from the government for 2011-15.  However, as part of the funding package, they state that the Government wants the Crown Office network to break even by 2014/5.

The guarantee on the 373 Crowns was agreed as part of the 2007 dispute.

We have asked for an extension of the guarantee for one year, so that we can get into ‘transformation talks' for a flight path to profitability.  POL has refused this.

We believe that POL is planning to attack the Crown network by further closures and franchises.

Questions & Answers were opened up for the members.

The first few questions were directed to Richard Barker, queries on the lack of overtime offered, and concerns that our member's wages over the last few years have reduced.

Richard stated that the government funding for 2012-17 of £1.3 Billion, that it is the obligation of POL to get the Crown Network back to profit, and the only three things that can do this is to improve sales, reduce cost or the size of the network.

Richard stated that POL cannot afford to pay more wages now but at this time, they did not intend to reduce the Crown network by franchising to WH Smiths.

Richard was also asked that since the BM's have had a pay rise in 2010 backdated, but not Crown Office staff.  Does this mean the company wish to put us on a rotation with Branch Managers on who does and does not get a pay rise?  Richard just replied ‘No!'

Members brought to Richards's attention how angry and upset they are feeling and that they believe POL does not treat their staff with dignity and respect, and that members often get no or little bonuses because of unrealistic targets.  Although the Branch Managers receive very good bonuses.  Members informed Richard that they do not want a Bonus Scheme just a good basic pay.

Questions to Richard on duties and hours being taken away from branches, resulting to members having to work twice if not three times the amount of work, with no extra pay leaving them stressed and neglected by the company.  Richard stated that the business is forecast to lose aprox £55 Million between 2012-17, and if the company were to pay Crown colleagues, more wages this would not help.

The members in the room were getting angry by the comments from Richard Barker, if the company wish to reduce cost, why give Branch Managers a back dated 2.25% pay raises this to Managers who do not do much?  Why have all other grades within POL received a pay rise for 2010 – Managers (2.25 %?) Supply Chain (2.9%), plus Crew got an hour of the working week, and Admin (2.25%) plus £850 bonus for the majority.

Richard replied that he could not talk about other sections of the group only Post Office, he stated that the rational behind why the Branch Managers received a pay rise is because POL looked at the BM's responsibilities, i.e. Compliance, Financial Services Framework!  Comparing the pay rate to other management roles within the business on the strength of this they analyst that Crown Office Managers deserved a pay rise.

POL Directors received a total of £3.9 Million in benefits through pay, pension contributions and Long Term Incentive Plans in 2009/10.  The £3.9m was actually an increase of 21% on the previous year 2008/9, when an overall benefit fro Directors was £3.2m.  In four years, Alan Cook received £3.1m and he failed!

This big 21% increase in Directors pay could have been distributed between Crown Office Staff.

Members argued that the biggest waste of money is in the managers.

Richard responded that they would have to agree to disagree with what is the value of the Managers.  Richard said that he looks at the performance and targets.  If a branch does well this means the BM is good.  In addition, the greatest skill of a BM is how they lead their team.

Questions were raised on why the Crown Office staffs who have the least amount of people in the group, have still no pay offer?

Richard – no pay offer is not an indication on the value of what you do.  We have a set of objectives around the Crown Network, to get the Crowns into profit.  Nobody is saying you are not doing a good job or that you are overpaid.  WH Smiths run good Post Offices, and offer good services are on less pay.  When we look at how to put the Crown network into profit, we can see from them how to save money.

Paula Vennals letter was brought up at this stage, with the comments on how Crown Office staff are ‘Over paid and under worked.'

A comment from an angry member, who received applause stated ‘that we are the face of the Post Office not you, that the staff put everything into the business.  The management should be shamed saying we are worth zero!   We cannot do anything else except strike, my job is to sit behind the counter and serve.  You should look at more closely at the decisions you have made in the past for example the 400 management grades POL have just been paid off, conference calls and meetings all across the company but lets not forget ‘Consignia'.

Richard – I agree.

The member went on to remind Richard that the Post Office is a public service, whose customers respect and trust the hard working staff.  However, slowly we are losing the loyalty of our customers to harassing them on sales every time they walk through the door.

Andy Furey took over and delivered an excellent talk, contradicting much of what Richard Barker had just said.

POL claim that our Counter Clerks are overpaid in comparison to the ‘market' by a third, whereby workers in other Post Offices such as WH Smith are paid almost £6500 per year less.  This equates to £7p.h. our members are currently on £10.50 p.h. it's outrageous to compare our grades with those in Sub Post Offices and WH Smiths Crown Office Staff.  Counter Clerks have unparalleled knowledge across a significant range of products and services.  The sub office assistants are underpaid. We are not overpaid.

We are the professional flagship face of the Post Office. We can't stand back and allow POL to achieve ‘race to the bottom' by drastically reducing our members pay in line with non-unionised and exploited employees, just to reach its objectives of bringing Crowns back to profitability. This move will reduce morale and disengage member, which can only have a negative effect on profit, sales income and customer satisfaction.

Andy went on to explain about the rumour of the business wanting to offer staff a lump sum in return for the members accepting a lower salary. This is referred to as buy downs. CWU would not be in favour of a buy down. POL have never quantified what the sum of a buy down would be or over how long a period. However, we believe that the £1.34 bn funding package, which POL received over the next 4 years, will contribute to paying for the buy down.

If the business wants to reduce your salary by a third, it will take many years of pay freezes to achieve this objective. Pay freezes will also have an overall detriment to your pension, which will be much lower due to your career average earnings being suppressed. In addition, the percentage of your salary that POL pays into your pension scheme is less.

Additionally by suppressing your pay, the business will also be making the business more attractive to a franchised partner by keeping the wage bill as low as possible for TUPE.

In conclusion, our members have done everything asked of them. Over the years, we have embraced the Sales Incentive Scheme and changed our culture from customer facing to a sales environment. If the Crown Network is to become the front office for government work, it is likely that Crown members will be required to gain more skills and knowledge. This up skilling should result in the need to be better paid!

We have to remain united, if we are to win this dispute. We have to keep our resolve and show management that we are not going to roll over easily. We also need to build the members' confidence, by telling them they are not alone in this conflict. These thoughts are replicated across the country and the membership is on the march. The alternative is giving up and accepting years of pay freezes and POL attacking our jobs.

We deserve better!!

 

  CWU Merseyside Amalgamated Branch
Branch: 0151 709 1243
Fax: 0151 709 8269
Contact: Web Editor
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