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Not the Deal of the Century

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Reading some of the news reports about the national agreement signed between the CWU and the Royal Mail last week, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’d secured the deal of the century. Under the headline ‘Pay rise and bonuses for striking postmen’, the Daily Express said: ‘Royal Mail postal workers who caused havoc with a series of strikes before Christmas are to get a pay rise, shorter hours and bonuses of up to £2500.’ Or try this headline from thisismoney.co.uk (owned by the Daily Mail): ‘Royal Mail strikers get more for less work.’

These reports read as if they’re based not on the actual agreement, but on the press releases handed out by the CWU and the Royal Mail. Any reading of the text of the agreement itself soon reveals the truth: it is not a pay rise, it is a pay cut. Yes, there is 6.9 per cent over three years. That’s 2.3 per cent per year, which is lower than inflation. And taking into account the fact that unaddressed door-to-door mail (otherwise known as junk mail) will be incorporated into our work load, and that the early shift allowance will cease, most postal workers will be between £10 and £30 a week worse off.

What’s more, the cap will be lifted on the number of door-to-door items we deliver, and the length of the walk will be increased to take account of the extra volume this will create. So what was that about ‘less work’ again? The agreement cuts the working week by one hour, but increases the workload. So it’s not less work, it’s more work: just less time to do it in.

As for the bonuses, these are part of the ColleagueShare scheme set up in 2007. All they’ve done is move them forward to incorporate them into the agreement.

In other words, most of what most of the newspapers have said about this agreement is entirely wrong. As a postman, if I fail to deliver your mail, it’s called ‘deliberate withholding of the mail’ and is not only a sackable offence, it’s a criminal offence too. But when journalists fail to deliver the truth, that’s just part of the normal routine, and no one is ever held to account for it.

Comments on “Not the Deal of the Century”

  1. Pat Ostman says:

    To be fair This Is Money did to a follow up piece when I contacted them although it has been edited slightly I will post my original response below. The new article can be found at

    http://blogs.thisismoney.co.uk/2010/03/postmen-wont-get-more-for-less-but-youll-get-more-junk-mail.html

  2. Pat Ostman says:

    Original letter to thisismoney.co.uk

    It is a complete fabrication to say that Postmen and Women will be getting more money for less work. The actual facts of the matter are that we will be working harder and longer for a reduction in pay.

    Under the old agreement, delivery personal were paid per item for delivering door to door items. On average they were paid around 2-4p per item depending on the leaflet and location. On an average round (600 calls, and 3 leaflets maximum per house) a postie earned around £36 per week extra delivering these items. Under the new agreement they are paid £20.60 (pro-rata) for an ‘UNLIMITED’ amount of junk mail leaflets – basically as many business customers as Royal Mail can attract. Even if they were to deliver three, they would still be down £16 a week. Part time employees with the pro-rata system in place would actually lose a lot more money, for doing more demanding work. Any Full Time early shift allowances (around £12) have also been lost, all included in this Delivery ‘supplement’ of £20.60.

    The bonuses mentioned were all part of a previous system called the Colleague Share Scheme, they have been re-branded, reworded and slipped into the agreement for short-sighted people to lap up. Correct me if I am wrong but taking away with one hand and giving the same amount with the other is not more pay.

    Of course the agreement also mentions longer Saturdays, 100% call rates and unlimited delivery spans which could, in theory, have us delivering mail for around six hours a day. (Have you ever tried walking for six hours with a heavy pouch on your shoulder). The current delivery span at present is three and a half hours. By my book, right wing journalists aside, that’s working harder and longer for less pay. As for these pay rises, it will take all three years worth for us to be in the same position as we are now. In reality that means no real term pay rises for Postmen and Women for around five years.

    Delivery Postmen and women mostly want nothing to do with this agreement and do not want to be pushing unlimited junk mail through customers letterboxes. Most posties I know want to provide a service and not let management take away the personal side to the job. The strikes in 2008 were about working conditions, public service and having the pride in our jobs taken away by European capitalists, intent on wrecking the service, and certainly not about pay.

  3. Roy Mayall says:

    Thanks Pat, I noticed they’d put a new article in there. It’s great that you managed to get them to see our point of view. Also thanks for posting your letter. It all helps to inform the public about the real plight of our industry.

  4. ClareJeffers says:

    So I read this and I thought, “I know what I’ll do – I’ll opt out of Door to Door mail.” And after some concerted Googling eventually found the page that tells you how to do this…

    http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/content1?catId=400126&mediaId=500081

    Reading through the list of things I should consider before opting out of Door to Door mail I had a slight pang when I realised I might miss out on Government information leaflets like this classic from 2004 http://www.life.com/image/51115699 . But was reassured that Royal Mail “would work with Government to get a message to every UK address in exceptional circumstances”. Stuff like that’s all up over the interweb these days anyway isn’t it, so it’s not like I’m going to miss anything major?

    Having made the decision to opt out, I set about the process of emailing my name and address to optout@royalmail.com so that Royal Mail could then send an opt-out form to my address, which I would have to sign and return, on the understanding that Royal Mail “do this for security reasons – to verify that those resident at the address have requested the ‘opt out’”. This seemed like a bit of a rigmarole – but I could see the sense in it.

    Except that straight away I received an email with form attached – Opt_Out_Application.pdf – to be filled in and sent back (in the mail) to Royal Mail Door to Door Opt Outs. And suddenly the rigmarole makes no sense at all, and feels *suspiciously unnecessary*…

    Still, it wasn’t *that* hard to do and, assuming the letter I’m about to put in the post actually reaches its destination, Royal Mail says it will stop delivering unaddressed mail to my address within 6 weeks. Postmen and women won’t have to push unlimited junk mail through *my* letterbox. And I can stop chucking unaddressed mail in the bin (why didn’t I do this before?). But if customers all just turned round and said STOP THE JUNK MAIL – where would that leave the posties?

    It’s a quandary.

    “I know what I’ll do – I’ll send more letters…” Perhaps I should have sent this reply in the mail…

  5. Roy Mayall says:

    Hello Clare, I must admit that if everyone stopped their junk mail I’d be perfectly happy. I hate it. My objection to the agreement is not the loss of earnings, it’s that the cap has been lifted on the numbers, so I’ll have MORE of the frigging stuff to deliver. So shall I tell you the procedure now that you’ve opted out? Eventually your postie will get a notification, and then he’ll put a little yellow sticker on the frame telling him that yours in an opt-out house and from then on he won’t put junk mail into your slot. The problem with this is it relys on you having a regular postie. If a casual worker or an agency worker takes his place, then they won’t care about your little yellow sticker or what it means, they will simply continue to shove junk mail through your door. Why would it bother them? They’ll be working somewhere else next week.

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