The NFSP and Employment Rights
Any suggestion that this blog is an attack on the present management of the NFSP is clearly mistaken correct. I have tried my best with them; tried to make them see the error of their ways (with the exception of George Thomson who remains just an error) and more recently tried to coax Mr Greenhow to at least open a dialogue with Mark Baker over at CWU headquarters. I often wonder what life would have been like if Callum hadn’t prevented me attending the meeting of the NFSP Scottish Borders branch where they voted that Mark was neither fit nor proper to be a NFSP member. He may well have come away with a different opinion but there you go – no disapproving voices tolerated in this organisation and in return they are financially obliged not to voice disapproval against POL.
Moving on to the subject at hand. I came across a couple of articles recently about the new wave of worker rights and I wanted to know what the NFSP had to say about it. On their website they publish a Branch Secretaries Circular which is really only read by a few people (https://www.nfsp.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/BSCs/BSC_16_-_employment_status_update.pdf) and this one mentions their ideas about the employment status of subpostmasters. In it they say that:
The NFSP believes the vast majority of subpostmasters wish to remain self employed and will benefit from continuing to remain in that category
That is just like an MP saying ‘what the people really want’ as if they had recently run a secret referendum. Of course the NFSP took the bull by the horns and in a measure of their undoubted relevance to the ‘vast majority of subpostmasters’ they ran an online poll to gauge support for their stance. Out of 7,000 or more members an astonishing high number (40) took the time and effort to complete the poll in order to influence the NFSP hierarchy. I see no mention of the results of that poll but I am sure if it been a ‘vast majority’ they would have published them.
But the really funny part is later in the Circular where they state that:
This complexity can make it difficult for subpostmasters to judge whether their employment status is correct
So they think that the vast majority of subpostmasters wish to remain self employed but it is too difficult for them to make a judgement?
I do agree though that it is a complex issue but there is no doubt that sooner rather than later SPMRs will be free to choose for themselves whether or not they want to be classed as workers or not. There is not and never has been, any thought or implication, that they were NOT self employed. They probably always will be, but their option is not about self employment status it is about worker status. The NFSP has never bothered to try and explain that probably because they don’t understand it themselves – too complex for them I suppose. Well in the circular they ask for clarity and here it is.
This article sets out the additional rights worker status brings https://www.thersa.org/globalassets/images/infographics/rsa-gig-economy-chart.pdf You remain self-employed but IN ADDITION you get the rights mentioned in the document. You lose nothing. It is as simple as that. POL of course lose a lot – they will have to treat you better and pay you more for sure and that may well cause them financial problems. Their financial problems not yours. The company is owned by the government and subsidised by the government. If POL feel financial pressure after Workers rights are established for SPMRS then tough, the government will have to pay more or come up with a better solution (of which there are many but the present management have no interest in them).
Next week the first step on the road to establishing worker’s rights for all SPMRs if they choose personally to accept them, will happen when the decision of the judge on the first part of the JFSA trial is handed down. It was very clear that the JFSA QC made a point of establishing personal service as a requirement for SPMRs to take on a PO Contract and that was the only remaining hurdle to be overcome by Mark Baker and the CWU who has been fighting for this for years. His fight will continue into an employment tribunal later in the year although surely POL will capitulate before then in order to prevent extreme embarrassment to the government.
All being well, after the trial and post aPOLcollapse all SPMRs will become eligible for the very welcome benefits worker rights will bring them and with that an increase in the value of the assets they purchased and which have diminished so badly of late.
Post aPOLcollapse I see no future for the NFSP. The structure of the organisation cannot really be changed and with funding withdrawn they will have no income. They are irrelevant now and their demise cannot come soon enough.