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Amey Consulting Rail: CEFA issues update

5 September 2013

Members update on our meeting with the company regarding issues in Civil Engineering Framework Agreement (CEFA) which has resulted in a failure to agree on the use of the handheld devices and introduction of arbitrary targets. We will now be seeking to meet with the company to hold an avoidance of disputes meeting which if it doesnÂ’t resolve the issues will lead us to canvas members on their willingness to be balloted for industrial action which would involve the refusal to use the handheld devices or scheduler.

 

TSSA register fail to agree on use of Handhelds and Targets

Examiners in Scotland had submitted a group grievance on the issues regarding the handheld device which is used to complete reports, the work scheduler used in conjunction with the device and the setting of arbitrary targets (based on data from the scheduler). We outlined a series of issues with the device: the camera being unusable, safety fears, recording the average time to complete a visual report with Examiners being told that this was 11 minutes and defects with the software still outstanding from when it was trialled. We explained the scheduler was trying to send Examiners to work sites hundreds of miles apart and our concerns on basing performance on something that doesn’t work.

Management responded by saying that they felt that the device was 80% finished product yet when confronted with your feedback and the fact that 60 reports in Scotland had been rejected it became very clear that this was not the case. We requested the devices be removed from use until proven but they wouldn’t agree and so we registered a ‘Failure to agree’ on the use of this device.

We then raised the issue of implementing arbitrary targets for Examiners to complete 8 visual inspections per day. We explained that setting arbitrary targets could be dangerous for those with less experience feeling pressured to complete works within a set timescale and also unrealistic for larger or more complex structures. We were given assurances that these targets were flexible in that ADM’s would be given discretion to take on board specific circumstances but the staff side had no confidence in these assurances and maintained that setting a target sends the wrong message. We requested that targets be removed but they refused so we registered another ‘Failure to agree’.

In the meantime if you’ve been advised to complete the report 100% on the handheld device then please do not work around this instruction because this is giving a false report that on average it only takes 11 minutes to complete visual reports this includes using separate cameras etc to complete we understand that you care about the work that you produce but until we can get Amey to care about the work that you do then please follow these instructions.

APC – Rapid Response

Many issues were raised regarding the APC centre being used as the communication between Network rail control and Bridge Strike Examiners. Issues with information passed on, basic data regarding where Examiners are and the unrealistic locations they are expected to travel too along with issues regarding the Examiners knowledge of the site which could cause safety issues. We asked for a return to the previous method of working. Management advised that some of the issues are with the information provided by control but that they would be willing to invite your representatives to the site to be able to see how it works and also ask questions. After some deliberation we advised that we would do this as long as this was arranged within 3 weeks of the meeting. If you have specific questions that you want your reps to ask on that visit then please use the contact details below to ask your reps direct.

Use of Contract staff and Selective overtime ban

We had received reports that there had been advertisements for 70 contractors across Amey to be brought in whilst our members had been told that Overtime was to be limited. Sean Roberts advised that he was frustrated that this issue kept being brought up and that the previous circular we had issued was inaccurate as there had not been any contractors brought into the business but that some of the agencies supplying sub-contractors had misinterpreted a request for costing of potential work from network rail as a request for them to advertise the roles. He clarified that this was not the case and that for core work Amey’s policy is to use permanent staff. When we raised issues with the use of Gekotech as a provider he explained that they only use them for specialist services where there is a need for roped access, diving or confined spaces. Your reps advised that Gekotech were being used for standard Examinations and that some permanent staff have relevant skills with dealing with roped access and confined spaces, we had also been concerned to learn that Gekotech were passing trainees out as qualified after 6 months as opposed to the 3 years that Amey have in place.

Regarding overtime some staff had been told that they were only to see a cut of 10% but had then seen this drastically cut and when we are aware that there are outstanding work from previous years available which meant that when members saw the advertisements there was a great deal of anger. Sean Roberts advised that there are still opportunities for overtime but only when the core work is being completed he advised that there are currently more permanent staff now than when the contract started. He agreed to take issues regarding Gekotech away and investigate.

If you are aware of situations where there are permanent Examiners with the relevant skills training and experience available to carry out work safely that contractors are being brought in to perform then your rep needs to hear from you with dates, times and specific information. Without this information we will continue to raise this issue without resolution so we need you to be vigilant and to report issues as they occur.

Out of Hours On call

Members may remember that as part of the 2012 pay agreement there was to be a review of Allowances which we have been pressing the company to meet over for some time but hasn’t yet happened, one of the priority issues that needs resolved is the out of hours on call. With so many contracts across the business and some contractually obliged to carry this work out and others who are not with difference in the levels of compensation there is an increasing issue of covering this work meaning that those who are contracted are having to cover larger and larger areas, we sited examples where Examiners feel that they are overworked and fatigued but have no mechanism to say no to more call outs and where you are expected to visit sites you are unfamiliar with.

When asked whether he was concerned about the example of someone working 18 hours without a break Sean Roberts advised that staff should be following the work safe procedures (PLC-H&S-202) and that he would back anyone up who was unable to continue working if it was unsafe.

We discussed the principal of seeking to encourage everyone to cover out of hours on call so that the work could be split fairly and evenly but insisted that Amey would have to offer a monetary incentive for people to do this. SR went on to suggest that they could bring this in the near future on the basis of 1 in 6 with no added incentives but an assurance that we could discuss harmonisation at a later point in time but that this wouldn’t be until after April when the new contract starts. We continued to push for some form of temporary solution but it was clear that there was no intention to offer anything meaningful on this point and as such we were not in a position to agree to an across the board on call being brought in. I would add that it is disappointing that Amey have reneged on something agreed to in the 2012 pay agreement as this doesn’t assist with building trust that they will deal with us fairly and openly. Your feedback on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Summary

Unfortunately the timings of the meeting were changed to allow Sean Roberts to attend but this meant that we had less time to go over all of the issues that we had intended. We still need to raise specific issues that trainees have regarding their lack of payments, Removal of Vans from those in the South and whilst we did briefly make some requests for further information on the Bidding for the CEFA contract we believe that there is further work that can be done in advance of the December announcement to help answer members queries.

In the meantime we are receiving anecdotal evidence that the numbers of disciplinary and formal performance meetings are taking place which means that you need to encourage your colleagues who are not trade union members to join now so that they have the support of the union in advance of any workplace issues arising they can join at www.tssa.org.uk/join

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