Royal Mail Strike: No Strike Agreement Reached?
Both the Communication Workers Union and academic commentators agree that the recent agreement is a model of successful negotiations. Certainly an increase in pay, backdated to 1.4.2013, at around 3% is just above the Retail Price Index; and 3% is higher than a lot of other recent agreements.
But the real praise is for more nebulous agreements. They are called employee protections. The extensive list includes:
The employer will not outsource
The employer will not franchise parts of the business
The employer will not make employees self-employed
The union will meet employers monthly at “Growth Forum”.
The above list does not include a no-strike agreement. However, should the union call a national strike, the employer will withdraw the employee protections above. Thus we have a new style agreement, which both allows a strike and allows a variety of management sanctions.
This agreement goes to the union members for validation in January 2014. Promised closer union management cooperation seems to be a return to the Corporatism of 40 or more years ago. Mediation by ACAS features strongly.
But will it work? Union leaders sitting on a growth forum is not the same as sitting on the Board of Directors. If at any time over the next 5 years union members vote for a national strike the whole agreement collapses. However, not franchising and not out sourcing will be attractive to members.
Finally,the language of zero hours contracts is not used, but implied in the above list. Why this unclarity?