Pay dispute holds up Royal Mail reformer

Attempts to improve industrial relations at Royal Mail have been held back
by a dispute over pay and shift patterns, according to Lord Sawyer who is
helping to transform the organisation’s work culture.

Last week the Communication Workers Union called off planned strike action
after a 2.2 per cent pay increase, backdated to October last year, was agreed.
But a dispute over plans to change shift patterns has yet to be settled.

Lord Sawyer is frustrated that the negotiations have undermined his work
reviving the flagging fortunes of Royal Mail following his damning report last
year on industrial relations within the company.

His report pointed to high levels of wildcat strike action at the firm and
blamed the hostile culture on overbearing managers, with no people management

Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today Lord Sawyer said the dispute had
delayed the introduction of pilot partnership agreements between managers and
union representatives.

"The problems have affected progress as all the pilot schemes have been
postponed," he said. "I am frustrated that the trials are not up and
running and that modernisation has been put back because the senior people from
both sides have been at Acas."

"A culture change cannot be made if everyone is not giving everything.
At the moment I do not have that commitment."

Lord Sawyer, chair of the Royal Mail’s National Partnership Board, is in no
doubt that some progress has been made and the company has already radically
overhauled its management training scheme to concentrate on behaviour and
people management skills.

"The only way this company is going to get back in the black is through
its people. Currently it is a place where there is a lack of respect for

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