Why are Royal Mail workers ready to take national action?
Decades of debate over the future of Royal Mail and the postal industry have lead up to this pitched battle that could change the industry. The outcome of this event will decide if Royal mail will continue to exist as a public service, or it gets divided into segments and then sold – for probably millions of £.
Rico Back – the chief executive of Royal Mail – tends to get his own way. He has ambitions to transform the postal industry in Britain will cause casualties –his plan involves slashing tens of thousands of jobs and harsher work conditions.
Members are the CWU union are gearing up to make a stand – a force of over 120.000 postal workers are ready to take to the streets. This can be indeed the fight of their lives!
One of the major changes Rico Back is planning on making is tied to next-day delivery parcels and packages – he wants to take out packages larger than a shoebox out of Royal Mail’s normal workload. Instead, they’ll be delivered from separate automated parcel hubs. This might not sound like a big deal to many of us, but this involves taking away an increasingly important source of work – this move alone could end tens of thousands of jobs.
This would be the first move in his plan towards breaking up Royal Mail into smaller profitable parcel companies and run-down letter services. He already announced plans to turn Parcelforce (currently a part f Royal Mail) into a separate company.
Currently, the amount of letters getting delivered is shrinking, and packets are on the rise- meaning that if the packets will be delivered by a separate company, Royal Mail will be left with declining work – which will slowly cause the company to die out.
If this happens, everybody will be affected – from the workers that are in the mail centers where the post is sorted to delivery workers – you’ll see fewer delivery workers because there’ll be much less for them to deliver, you probably won’t see them at your door as often either. The leadership of Royal Mails is hoping to get rid of the USO – universal service obligation – which guarantees that letters can be delivered anywhere in Britain six days a week.
If Parcelforce is separated from the rest of Royal Mail, workers will be replaced by others on worse contracts.
Currently, Royal Mail couriers have better terms and work conditions in their contracts than other parcel couriers – this is about to change as well. Many courier companies such as DPD or Hermes classify their delivery drivers as self-employed. They are paid per delivery or a fixed amount per route – this means that they are getting paid based on their performance, which pushes delivery drivers to make as many deliveries as possible. This also means that they aren’t entitled to sick pay or paid holidays – and they can be punished for giving their delivery routes to someone else. The delivery drivers have to provide their own vehicles or rent them from the company – this means that they have to pay their own expenses, such as fuel used, repairs, etc.
The employment structures mean that they are isolated from each other – this makes organizing strikes and protests more difficult.
When Parcelforce becomes a separate company, its workers will get transferred over with the same term an conditions, but the law says that their contracts can be changed after a year, and the CWU union is sure that the contracts will be changed. In case the employees will leave, it will be easy to find replacements because there is nothing stopping the company from employing new workers with worse contracts.
Royal Mail delivers more than half the parcels in Britain – this could drastically change in the following years. Royal Mail as its users and workers know ti today simply won’t exist.