Royal Mail 48-hour opt-out angers union

The Royal Mail has infuriated trade unions by asking its managers to work
longer hours, while still in the process of making thousands of staff
redundant.

Trade union Amicus has accused bosses of exploiting a climate of fear after
managers have been asked to sign agreements opting out of the European working
time directive, which limits employees to a 48-hour week.

Peter Skyte, national officer at Amicus, said: "The company has said
3,000 managers are surplus to requirements. This is clearly not the case if it
is necessary for the remaining staff to work longer for the business to
function.

"It’s ludicrous for Royal Mail to want managers to do more than 48 hours
a week while seeking redundancy from others," he said.

A spokesman for Royal Mail said the request is purely voluntary and staff
are not being forced to work overtime.

In December 2003, the company announced its intention to cut 3,000
non-operational ‘surplus’ management jobs as part of a three-year plan to
reduce total staff numbers by 30,000.

So far, around 2,400 staff have taken up the offer of voluntary redundancy,
with the company refusing to rule out the remainder coming from compulsory
redundancies if its target was not reached by the end of last week.

If compulsory redundancies are announced Amicus – which represents 14,000
Royal Mail staff – will hold a strike ballot.

By Mike Berry

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