Further to my last post on the subject, I’ve learned that – although both sides won’t confirm it – Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union’s negotiating team are applying the finishing touches to a modernisation agreement they’ve been tharshing out since the national strike ended last year. You can read about it in this week’s Tribune. As I report :
A source said of the deal: “If it were a purely financial deal, you’d be rolling around laughing at it, but it’s a lot more than that.”
Another source said: “It will deal with the individual industrial issues such as the mail centre network, union issues. They’re at the end of the road. I suspect there’ll be a recommendation to accept. I don’t think people are going to be flag flying in the hilltops. I expect it’s going to be a difficult, complicated proposal.”
The CWU’s postal executive committee have been summoned to a two-day meeting next week where officers will take them over the agreement, and (as I understand) recommend them to agree it. The executive will then decide whether to accept it or not, and if it does, it’ll have to put it to the members for a vote.
So there are still hurdles – but we’re a lot closer than we were a month ago, when the talks were meant to be concluded.
Why has it taken so long? A highly disciplined omertà has been in operation since talks began, so it’s hard to say. However the mood music points towards a compromise that some CWU members may find unpalatable (see above). Although they may (should?) get more money. We shall see.
This agreement is a big, complicated, multi-limbed beast which will almost certainly lead to more automation and Royal Mail shedding jobs, since the CWU is on the record as acccepting the need for job losses. There are all kinds of complex issues around working conditions to resolve. The agreement is not just there to modernise the company, it’s there to prevent another national strike – and that is by no means ruled out yet.
Update: HellMail has some learned reflections on what a Royal Mail deal could mean for both sides.