With TV news media in the main ignoring the dispute and the tendency for print media to distort/ommit facts and even what the dispute truly is about, the latest letter to branches is reproduced in full below.
Pat and Jess, say it as it is along with the whole of the CWU!
Also the documentary evidence of the CWU case, can be viewed and/or downloaded via the links at the end of LTB554/17
16th October 2017
Pay 2017 and Pillars of Security
Further to LTB 547/17 and in advance of the National Briefing on Thursday 19th October, attached for your information are copies of correspondence exchanged with the business (Appendix 1, 2 and 3) which preceded the court case, together with a series of extracts from the Union’s witness statement (Appendix 4) presented to the High Court that set out the fundamentals of our case and which Branches may find useful in communicating our key messages to members.
The first letter from Jon Millidge dated 2nd October sets out the company’s inaccurate and misleading assessment of the negotiations to date and which, for the first time, raised the company’s request to invoke external mediation. The second letter from Millidge dated 5th October formally invokes the mediation procedure and requested the Union withdraw the notice for industrial action.
My response dated 6th October sets out the Union’s position, criticized the insincerity of the company’s approach and rejected their request to withdraw notice for action. The Union believe the company has acted in bad faith and outwith the true spirit and intent of our mutual interest agreement and that the legal action to force external mediation is an unreasonable misinterpretation of our agreement. We have been in talks for 18 months and Royal Mail has had ample time and opportunity to request external mediation to secure an agreement rather than wait till the 11th hour and after both parties have already employed the services of a highly respected independent third party (Peter Harwood, former ACAS chief conciliator) to help move talks forward but to no avail.
We believe that the action was not a genuine attempt to reach a negotiated settlement but rather a cynical legal manoeuvre with the sole intention of stopping our members exercising their democratic right to strike. Indeed, the letter from Millidge requesting external mediation suggests they have no intention of moving their position as they are “confident that an external mediator will understand how it is difficult for the business to move any further than it has already”.
Unbelievably Royal Mail claimed that they had not instigated the external meditation process because they did not realise that there was a disagreement or that the Union was serious about taking industrial action. They also claimed that major contract(s) would walk
if a decision to force us into external mediation was not made. Interestingly the point was made in court by the Judge that you would only take such action to force external mediation if you genuinely believed it will enable an agreement, which in my opinion places a huge onus on Royal Mail Group to move their position in the mediation.
In essence the case ended up being judged on the financial and logistical consequences of a strike and that the balance of convenience in the opinion of the court strongly favoured the parties having the opportunity to resolve the dispute through external mediation.
In light of the Court order we will enter the mediation process and continue our negotiations in good faith but Royal Mail need to clearly understand that following months of fruitless talks and management intransigence and in the light of our massive mandate, the company need to make a serious and significant move in the coming talks to avoid industrial action.
We also intend to ensure (as the Court order stipulates) that the mediation process is completed strictly in accordance with the external mediation timetable set out in the agreement. If the mediation is unsuccessful in resolving all aspects of the trade dispute then we will serve notice for strike action again, setting out new dates for industrial action and also make our own application to the court for the six month period that industrial action can take place prior to a re-ballot to start from the end of the mediation process, unless Royal Mail Group agree the extension.
The CWU has nothing to fear from mediation and we are confident that our just claim and positive forward agenda not only meets the challenges the company faces from competition and automation but will provide vital future protections for our members and this great public service.
Despite the High Court ruling, our magnificent ballot result still stands and should act as a massive wake up call for Royal Mail management to start serious negotiations around the Union’s Pay and Pillars of Security claim or face inevitable industrial action.
Further updates will be provided in due course.
Deputy General Secretary (Postal)