La Poste Group has signed a framework agreement with unions promising measures to improve the quality of life of French postal workers.
The three-year deal with the unions FO, CFDT, CGC/UNSA and CFTC follows the “Grand Dialogue” consultation with employees held last year, which was prompted by two staff suicides blamed on the “oppressive” work culture at the company.
The Kaspar Report, which summed up the consultation findings, suggested that the work culture problems stemmed from restructuring at the French national postal service, and changes to working practices in response to current trends in the mail market.
La Poste has been negotiating with the unions since October on the deal, and now pledges 17 “immediate” measures to improve the quality of life for postal employees, and lays the groundwork for further negotiations with the unions to start this month regarding longer-term initiatives.
The French national postal service said that from now on the human element and stress issues would be put at the heart of developing work programmes.
With one of the complaints among workers being that a lack of support was given for staff taking on new responsibilities in the Group restructuring, the company has promised extra training and local management support as a priority. Postal workers will be given easier access to training and new career paths, with the company also pledging to invest in developing professional courses to help improve career development within the industry.
La Poste said it wants to offer all postal workers a personal career development plan, which would allow anyone to seize the opportunities offered by the various crafts at the Group.
An additional 15,000 permanent employees are to be recruited by 2014, in a process monitored by the unions, in order to reduce the burden on existing workers.
The union agreement also pinpoints health and safety for more development, in particular setting out standards within the key objectives of managers, and strengthening the role of specialists.
Ensuring a healthy work-life balance, one of the key tests for a new work programme based on five-day-per-week shift patterns will be that staff be required to take at least two days off each week, alongside the need to maintain service quality and customer satisfaction. With the same goals in mind, the agreement also proposes that some degree of remote working be implemented for suitable staff on a voluntary basis.
Other planned measures include a scheme that would allow older workers in stressful positions to work on a part-time basis, which could be open to younger staff where needed.
Further negotiations are needed with the unions to iron out issues to do with staff consultation and workplace relations. But La Poste said it wanted to reaffirm principles of “listening, respect and loyalty” in the workplace, and make sure that any new projects affecting the organisation and operation of services will be presented to the unions before their launch.
Source: Poste&Parcel/La Poste