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Consulting – Unresolved Dispute

5 November 2010

TSSA went into dispute with Amey Consulting over their refusal to agree a no-compulsory redundancy deal. We met with management on Wednesday 3 November 2010 in an attempt to resolve the issue.

What happened at the meeting?

From the start of our meeting, we indicated to the company that we wanted to resolve this issue and saw that a package of visible measures behind a no-compulsory redundancy agreement would be the way forward. We emphasised the need for an enhanced Voluntary Redundancy (VR) arrangement as had previously been used in Amey Inter Urban (and which is again being considered by Inter Urban). In support of our arguments we cited the size of Amey, the loss of trust felt by many staff towards management and the sense of unrest following a series of issues (pensions, pay and redundancies) that have made members feel they are not being dealt with honestly.

What was their response?

In response, management:
- Refused to agree to a no-compulsory redundancy agreement saying it wasn’t practical for them
- Refused to enhance the VR offer on the grounds of affordability and consistency. It has taken the company three weeks to produce this response! They are now saying that it would be unfair on staff outside of Rail that those within Rail should get enhanced terms. In terms of affordability, their reasoning was that they had a set budget for redundancies but because some people were contractually entitled to more then that meant they couldn’t enhance the pot. Our question remains, why didn’t the company recognise that we would be seeking enhanced VR terms when the issue has featured so heavily in recent Inter Urban and Amey Colas redundancies – and why are Consulting employees worth less?

In terms of alternative vacancies we debated a list that we had been sent that did not include any Rail jobs despite our knowledge of a number of vacant posts. Management confirmed that there are Rail vacancies but that at this stage they were seeking authority to fill them.
This prompted us to challenge the company over their intentions to fill jobs and whether the number of posts being cut is actually larger than they have admitted to. We also questioned why vacant posts at a reorganisation needed authorisation when surely it was the intention to fill them by making them available, in the first instance, to displaced staff. The company’s response was to describe the process that they have to go through to fill jobs and to give assurances that “most” posts would be filled but a few would not be made available until March 2010 at the earliest.

Our response

Despite an adjournment to allow the company to reconsider their position, I have to tell you that Amey Consulting has still refused to move their position on the core issue of compulsory redundancies.
In consequence, we have informed them that the dispute remains unresolved because there has been no attempt on the company’s part to seek to find a compromise position. Management has been told that we will now be balloting members for industrial action.

How did management react?

As we expected, the company told us that they deemed collective consultation complete and that they would now move to commence individual consultation. Their view was that they had tried to reach agreement but we reminded them that there were still a number of issues not agreed including:

- Selection criteria for displaced staff. We have discussed general headings but not agreed what would be used and what wouldn’t. We also know nothing about the weighting that will be given to each heading. What we do know is that what has been discussed is subjective and confirms our view that individuals are being targeted;
- There has been little opportunity for the staff side to present counter proposals around withdrawn posts.
In no way had we been given the opportunity to conduct consultation in the right spirit. We advised management not to proceed in this way because it would confirm the view of staff that the company had intended to steam roller this issue in from Day 1 and that lip service had been paid to consultation. Management refused to listen to this point of view.

What happens now?

There are a range of actions that TSSA will be taking and which I will write to you about very shortly and I will be writing out to you again very shortly.

In the meantime, please encourage any non-TSSA members to join the union. Membership forms can be obtained from your reps or downloaded here.

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