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c2c - Proposed Changes to Retail Staffing

28 January 2020

Rightly, our members have been frustrated over the length of time it has taken to reach a satisfactory outcome following c2c’s proposed changes to retail staffing with little to no information shared at various points whilst talks were underway.

It is acknowledged there has been a hunger for more information so that everyone could better understand what the new business structure would look like and how it would impact jobs, pay and shift patterns to list a few deeply felt concerns shared amongst our members.

Frankly, it has been difficult at times to publish anything informative due to the lack of info received from the outset alongside discrepancies we identified with what little info was eventually drip fed.

There were no agreed outcomes which could be shared during early talks resulting in an ever-changing picture because of the challenges faced during the consultation process. That said we are aware how frustrating this process has been for everyone concerned and, on that note, I am writing to provide you with a better-informed update as well as share some positive outcomes following recent progress TSSA made.

A reminder of the background

It was July last year when c2c first announced the company was operating against some serious financial losses.

Since 2016 passenger revenue has been in decline with the trend showing no signs of reversing. Fixed premium costs associated with the franchise compounded the problem.

This triggered a station staffing review over a 3-month reference period leading to c2c proposing changes with the aim of reducing costs. It wasn’t entirely clear what this would entail with no clear business case paving the way for lengthy and sometimes challenging talks.

Without knowing the full extent of their plans, communications were at a standstill to avoid fuelling any further, unnecessary concerns. TSSA had more questions than answers leading to a string of meetings to better understand the changes c2c sought across their network of stations.

c2c Proposals

After pressing c2c for their business case and your company council reps setting out key principles to enable meaningful consultation, slowly, we got to learn some of the planned changes c2c were looking to introduce.

This included a reduction in opening hours, a removal of ‘first’ to ‘last’ operation at many stations and a reduction in staffing levels.

As required in line with ‘Schedule 17,’ c2c shared their proposals to reduce ticket office opening hours across 25 stations with London Travelwatch (LTW) and Transport Focus (TF). Your TSSA reps presented a detailed submission to both transport passenger watchdogs setting out our union’s objections. Both letters can be found on TSSA’s website.

Sadly, the responses received from LTW and TF gave c2c the green light to make significant changes to some ticket office opening/closing hours, which in turn, means there will be a displacement of staff. This then led to meetings centred upon roster changes which were themselves problematic.

Your reps have been integral to that process and fought extremely hard to keep the many roster changes to a minimum, in their efforts to uphold work-life balance whilst also maintaining sufficient levels of staffing to cope with customer demands at every station.

Their input made positive headway following some counter proposals later conceded. With the exception of Revenue Control, rosters have now been agreed with c2c committed to a six-month review of new rosters to ensure they are working.

So, what next?

Throughout consultation c2c continually reiterated there will be no compulsory redundancies. However, they did ask for expressions of interest from anyone who perhaps wanted to leave under a voluntary leaver’s scheme. Any expressions of interest aren’t binding on either party but, would be dealt with at management discretion.

Letters are going to be sent to follow-up those expressions of interest. As a result of the roster changes and some job functions taken out as well as new job roles put back in, this means some staff will be displaced as a result. Regardless, there is a job for everyone but, this requires a fair process to ensure everyone is matched fairly to a job under the new business structure.

Displacement Selection Criteria

In years gone by ‘Red Book’ terms and conditions (PTR&R) typically applied in these instances using staff seniority as a sole deciding factor for securing suitable, alternative employment. But, this has largely been succeeded by current legislation.

Contrary, to misguided views aired elsewhere, seniority should no longer be used as sole criteria. Why? Because it potentially discriminates women and part-time workers linked to age discrimination. The Equality Act defines a list of protected characteristics which should be free from direct and indirect discrimination.

On 23 January TSSA attended a meeting. Following representations put forward by our union - to ensure a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory procedure would apply – c2c took our views seriously agreeing to a fair process.

The agreed process combines a range of criteria, combining some elements of PTR&R including seniority but it will not be used as a sole criterion to reduce the risk of discrimination.

TSSA is satisfied this approach is fair to all and will continue to work closely with the company ensuring the process will continue to be applied fairly and in no way discriminatory. TSSA proposed an appeals process for this purpose alongside other positive improvements to the procedure which c2c agreed.

There are no roster changes to - gateline, dispatch, platform, help point, Barking control point, lost property and retail support. As a result of no proposed changes impacting upon these areas staff will automatically be job matched to their existing, substantive roles.

Your company reps are out and about visiting numerous stations and departments across c2c’s network this week to share the new rosters.

Want to know more? Then look out for Billie Soule and Adrian Forrest who will be happy to hear your views. c2c management team will also be making visits to discuss in more detail.

Know of someone who isn’t yet a TSSA member? Pass this circular on and ask them to join our union online.

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