RESPONSE TO GTR DOCUMENT AND LETTER
This is a response to the Company document and letter dated the17th of May 2017
GTR have responded to the RMT’s attempts to reach a resolution to our long running dispute by producing a “final offer” document which insults our intelligence . In this email I want to address the letter sent out yesterday by the Company and the Company’s final offer document.
The letter starts of by alleging that the Executive council made a decision to call further strike action without members having the right to express their views. The Regional Organiser along with […] Company Council Representatives have attended all the negotiating meetings and we were unanimous in recommending to the Executive Council that further strike action was necessary. The Company are well aware of how the procedure works and only when an offer is worthy of our members consideration will we send it out to referendum. If the Company want their document and the strike action on the 30th discussed they only have to let the RMT know what day they are prepared to release the Local and Company Council Reps and it will be arranged.
There are many reasons why this document produced by GTR could not be seen as a credible vehicle for resolving the dispute including:
“Assistance guarantee to all passengers for all train services in scope enabling the disabled, elderly vulnerable and others to be provided with assistance from on-board staff and/ or other staff, without the need to book in advance”. This is the guarantee that we have been seeking however when questioned on how they would fulfil the guarantee the Company had nothing to offer beyond what they provide at present. This falls far short of guaranteeing access without pre booking. There are only two methods available to the Company which give guaranteed access and they are: providing a member of staff on every station from start to finish of service or, providing a second member of staff on every train. GTR in this document have accepted their responsibilities for providing guaranteed access on all train services for the disabled, elderly, vulnerable and others.
WITHIN THEIR DOCUMENT GTR NEEDED TO PRODUCE A PLAN DETAILING HOW THEY INTEND TO FULFIL THIS GUARANTEE.
Passenger Assistance Arrangements
The document states that at each station the OBS will carry out an “assistance check”. What they fail to confirm is how this will work. The point was made to the Company that the requirement for the OBS to be at the door panel and activate the key before the driver locked the doors meant the OBS role was more restricted than that of the traditional Conductor. The suggestion was made to the Company that there should be a clear method of communication between the OBS and the Driver to confirm that platform duties were completed before the Driver could commence with the train dispatch procedure. The Company disputed this and insisted that the Driver would not close the door until they had witnessed the panel door key being de activated. This argument fell apart when GTR’s Head of Safety explained that with the door monitors on the right hand side of the cab and the panel key light indicator on the left meant that the Driver could not be expected to monitor both.
WITHIN THEIR DOCUMENT GTR NEEDED TO PRODUCE A WORKABLE METHOD OF OPERATION FOR PROVIDING PASSENGER ASSISTANCE.
In the offer which ASLEF members rejected, the OBS were to have “Personal Track Safety”. This is the recognised industry qualification. In this document it has changed to “Company Track Safety”.
WITHIN THEIR DOCUMENT GTR NEEDED TO JUSTIFY REMOVING THE INDUSTRY RECOGNISED PTS WHICH THEY DEEMED NECESSARY IN THE OFFER THEY TABLED TO ASLEF IN FEBRUARY AND REPLACING IT WITH A WATERED DOWN COMPANY VERSION IN THIS FINAL OFFER DOCUMENT.
The document states “in degraded conditions, an OBS who holds the relevant licence may assist in the dispatch of the train, if authorised by Control to do so”. What the document does not state is what is meant by the term “assisting in dispatch of the train”. OBS would want to know that they held all the necessary competencies before getting involved in operational procedures.
WITHIN THEIR DOCUMENT GTR NEEDED TO FULLY EXPLAIN WHAT THEY MEAN BY “ASSISTING IN TRAIN DISPATCH” AND THE COMPETENCIES ASSOCIATED WITH OPERATING THE PROCEDURE.
I hope if you consider these examples of the flaws in this ill conceived and ill thought out document you can understand why we could never consider giving it the credibility of being put out to referendum.
IT’S STILL A BLOODY BIKE
The document also states that OBS’s employed in the future will require to pass a Safety Critical Medical to hold a Company Track Safety qualification. This seems a bit like buying a car on the Internet and when you turn up to collect it the seller wheels you out a bicycle, then to add insult to injury he demands to see a full driving licence before letting you pedal the bike away. IT’S STILL A BLOODY BIKE. Personal Track Safety is the recognised industry qualification. Company Track Safety is still an inferior qualification irrespective of having to pass a Safety Critical Medical to acquire it.
RECOGNITION AND REPRESENTATION
The Company letter also states that “They also continue to ignore calls from you, the members, seeking recognition and representation for the OBS role”. Even for GTR this is a stretch. The Company which imposed the OBS role on their staff, the Company which every weekend cancels all the diagrams and forces their staff to work 10 1/2 and 11 hour shifts, the Company which rosters Managers to stand on platforms monitoring OBS and Conductors, is now trying to shift the blame to the RMT. Recognition of the role is important but these issues will not go away because we get recognition. Issues such as these are dealt with by ensuring we successfully defend our right to belong to a strong Union.
I know you will see through this attempt by the Company to breach our solidarity as you have with each attempt they have made in the past.
NO FURTHER TALKS
In their letter the Company state that there will be no further talks due to the strike action being called for the 30th of May. The Company having being responsible for producing such a flawed “final document” should recognise that they left the RMT no alternative but to lay down a further strike date. With talks with ASLEF now broken down and their rest day and overtime ban reintroduced this means that the Company ,with their position of not talking to Unions who have called industrial action, are unable to talk to anyone to resolve the dispute. This stance by GTR is neither in the best interests of the travelling public or of finding a resolution to the dispute.
POINT OF AGREEMENT
It is always good to end on a point of agreement with the Company so I would like to fully endorse the Company suggestion that you share your views with management. It is the recognised Trade Union tradition that we express ourselves collectively so I hope we will all avail ourselves of the opportunity to do just that on the 30th of May.
SOLIDARITY IS EVERYTHING