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FGW: Ballot of Managers for Industrial Action

24 July 2015


Many members have raised concerns about being coerced to cover the duties of other grades particularly those of RMT colleagues taking industrial action. Understandably many of our members did not feel confident about covering the duties in a climate where those colleagues had taken a democratic decision to take lawful industrial action.

We asked for assurances from FGW that managers would not be forced to undertake such duties and the company failed to provide those assurances which then led to the decision to ballot for Industrial action.

Since our decision Mark Hopwood has both written to staff and TSSA alike confirming that Managers have not been instructed to carry out these duties but rather have been asked to undertake these duties on a voluntary basis. We have also had further assurances from HR that FGW will not be instructing our manager members to undertake the duties of RMT members taking industrial action and will continue to only seek volunteers to do so. Clearly the position that FGW has taken has shifted somewhat from the time that we started our ballot and as a result we believe that we have influenced a positive change that we need to recognise, especially as we have recently received reassurances that any complaints around coercion will be dealt with robustly by the company. Therefore we have taken the decision to terminate the industrial action ballot.

There are however issues that still need to be resolved……

Safety implications

Whilst TSSA no longer has the right to collectively represent managers for the purposes of bargaining on Pay, terms and conditions and such issues as organisational change. TSSA are still recognised to cover Management grades for the purposes of Health & Safety. (We will of course always champion the rights and wishes of any of our members including our management members, bargaining rights or not!)

We have received some worrying reports of safety breaches and incidents during the recent period of industrial action by RMT members and our reps are concerned about the support and training provided in order to deem managers competent to carry out these operational duties. We would welcome any further concerns or reports of incidents from members and you can email Alan Valentine by clicking here  or one of your Company level, Management health and safety reps who are Richard Makin (click here to email) and Sandra cook (click here to email). We are also liaising with the ORR on this matter and will be raising those concerns with the company. It is clear that many of the potential issues such as:

· Bullying (both organisational and individual),

· Volunteering versus coercion,

· Concerns over competencies and the extent of the training and support provided to ‘volunteers’,

All come within the realms of Health & Safety of managers and we need to hear your views so that we can effectively raise these with the company through the existing safety structures. We will be compiling an anonymous survey to go out to Management colleagues to assess the extent of the issues that arose as a result of Managers covering other colleague’s duties, in the next few weeks so we ask that you look out for this and respond to tell us your experiences.

Going forward

Managers across the company have expressed concerns that they have been given unreasonable instructions yet feel powerless to challenge them, being advised that doing so might limit their career prospects. This is not an acceptable position for any employee whatever grade to face. TSSA has given a voice to managers across FGW, one independent from the company. We truly aim to listen to your concerns and seek to resolve them whether that be with or without a collective bargaining structure. To do that effectively we need your help, we must continue to increase our membership and we must have more members come forward to be prepared to represent their colleagues for example as Health and Safety representatives and work with us to understand the issues, find solutions to them and communicate our messages and aims effectively. Please do what you can to speak to your colleagues and:

· Encourage your colleagues to join TSSA and in turn recruit their new and existing colleagues, they can do this online at (FGW does not tell us when new managers start in the business or who they are so we need your help to find out who they are and speak to them)

· Complete an individual petition stating that you support TSSA bargaining on your behalf

· Contact Alan Valentine (click here to email) to let us know if you are prepared to be a rep or a contact point in your workplace willing to assist get key communications out to colleagues on the ground, co-ordinate staff meetings, update notice boards, etc

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