Royal Mail staff not content despite reduction in strikes

Industrial relations at the troubled Royal Mail still need strengthening
despite strike levels falling to a 10-year low, according to the third report
into the issue by Lord Tom Sawyer.

Strikes in the 15-month period since Sawyer’s first report – which demanded
that the company and the Communication Workers’ Union work in partnership – are
down by 91 per cent on the levels of industrial action in the 15 months prior
to its publication.

Since Sawyer’s report in June 2001, 9,587 days have been lost to strike
action compared to 111,792 working days in the 15 months from April 2000.

The dramatic reduction in industrial action has coincided with a slight
improvement in business performance, although the company is still losing more
than £1m a day.

At the end of December 2002, almost 92 per cent of letters had been
delivered on target, compared to 89.4 per cent in the previous financial year.

However, the latest review finds that the partnership approach is not
improving the working lives of frontline staff. Sawyer is demanding evidence
that this will have changed when he publishes his next update in six months.

Sawyer also calls for a joint industrial relations training programme to be
launched by the end of this month.

The CWU described the partnership as a sham. John Keggie, deputy general
secretary at the union, said: "Stand by what has been agreed, show honour
and respect to agreed procedures and the union will demonstrate a willingness
to continue to work jointly through the collective bargaining process."

Allan Leighton, chairman of Royal Mail, said he accepts all the report’s
recommendations and the company is committed to partnership working.

By Paul Nelson

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