Solidarity has some that hold dual membership with the CWU. We have also been contacted by some posties who are not yet members of ours asking our opinion of the deal and advice on which way to vote. Here it is - the deal between the CWU union and Royal Mail to end the dispute over pay, pensions and conditions is a sell-out. It is surrender, a capitulation to a management agenda. It is a betrayal.
130,000 workers took eight days of official strike action but the union’s executive voted to accept the offer and recommend it to the membership. Only five out of 14 executive members voted to reject it.
The deal does not meet the demand for decent pay and pensions. Nor does it remove the threat implied by Royal Mail's demand for 'total flexibility'.
This is what the deal means: -
On pay, the deal will mean a below-inflation settlement. The establishment media promoted figure of 6.9 percent over 18 months is false. The real figure is 5.4 percent over two years. That is just 2.66 percent a year – well below inflation. The 6.9 percent figure has been reached by adding a 1.5 percent extra payment. But this is conditional on the implementation of the entire flexibility package, and many offices won’t get it! On top of that posties have lost the ESOS bonus scheme and many opportunities to earn overtime.
On pensions, on 1 April 2010 pension age will be raised from 60 to 65, unless you want to accept a loss of benefits.
Changing the pension scheme from one that is based on your final average salary to one that is based on career average earnings will almost certainly have the effect of reducing benefits for many. The closure of the existing scheme to new entrants, leading to a two-tier workforce.
The union has accepted that the current deficit in the pension scheme is “unsustainable” and that it “leads inevitably to the conclusion that either employee contributions must rise or benefits reduce or both”.
Yet the crisis in Royal Mail’s pension scheme arises partly out of the company’s 17-year pensions holiday (the period in which Royal Mail didn’t pay into the fund).
On 'flexibility' the union has conceded the employers’ position almost completely. Local reps are going to be forced into agreeing “efficiency deals” with managers – that will mean the same amount of work being done in fewer hours.
In addition there could be long and short days, with workers having to work shorter hours on days when it suits the company, and longer hours when mail volumes are greater – something that the union has previously opposed.
There will also be 30 minutes of flexible extra work. Managers will be able to extend workers’ shifts when it suits them, and give the time back at an unspecified later date.
The aim of these changes is to get everyone to work harder, and to cut overtime payments.
This deal falls far short of the demands that motivated thousands of CWU members to take strike action. Activists must urgently build opposition to this deal. If the deal is pushed through CWU members should seriously consider whether they want to remain with a Union that has betrayed their sacrifice and effort. They are Lions led by Donkeys.