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First Great Western: last chance saloon!

1 October 2013

The Company has yet again failed to address your issues at a high-level forum exhausting all diplomatic avenues of resolution.

Meeting with Mark Hopwood and Sharon Johnston

After a protracted six week wait your Assistant General Secretary and Regional Organiser were given an audience with Mark and Sharon. Although the meeting was a little tense to begin with it was a good opportunity for both parties to clear the air. Unfortunately even though we were given ample opportunity to raise your issues and the undertaking from Mark and Sharon to review several of these they have since confirmed in writing that their position remains the same.

We have now officially run out of all diplomatic avenues and want to make it clear to you all that in order to address any of these issues we may need to resort to industrial action. This is something that your reps will be discussing at length over the next couple of weeks.

Pay 2014

Mark confirmed that the Company has provided their final offer of 2.7% and claim that they are unable to increase it due to the constraints placed upon them by the DfT. We can confirm that after a long and meaningful tactical consideration of this and a number of other important issues currently facing our members we have now written to the Company to accept this year’s pay deal.

People Process

We repeated our frustration and disappointment that the Company had unilaterally withdrawn from the 2010 People Process and the negative impact that this had on a number of recent reorganisations mainly the one conducted for the Sales and Marketing department. Despite the fact that Sharon has now agreed to sit down to negotiate a revised People Process the Company seem unwilling to acknowledge their recent actions and the distress that this continues to cause our members.

Customer Ambassadors

Mark remains of the view that these roles should be in the management grade and have been employed on this basis. Once again the Company has chosen to ignore the union agreements in addition to our concerns and counter proposals and proceeded with their plans regardless.

New Year’s Day Payment

We confirmed to Mark that our Management members are generally feeling disaffected. One reason for their low morale is that they are aggrieved that the grades that report to them receive enhanced pay for New Year’s Day. We argued that if the Company conceded to pay them accordingly it would improve our employment relations and provide the Management Grade with a well needed boost of goodwill. All the way through the discussions on this point we have been at pains to stress that we were willing to negotiate and even suggested that the payment was made for one year only until we could resolve the issue long term. Sadly Mark didn’t take out views on board and relied on the historical argument that Managers received a higher consolidated salary in exchange for such arrangements back in the eons of time and that Job Evaluation will resolve this issue instead!

Deputising Arrangements

Once again we had another healthy debate about this issue and even though we presented all of the arguments in a fair and concise manner upon reflection Mark has decided that they are unwilling to provide any form of payment to those of you who act as deputies. In addition despite our best attempts we have still been unable to agree a form of guidelines either.

Next steps

We are keen to stress to you that now more than ever it is important that you continue to have meaningful dialogue with your reps. We will never cease to listen to your issues and attempt to address them with the Company even if we have to use all of the union’s agreed machinery and call upon Mark Hopwood to make your case. Unfortunately the Company in this instance is unwilling to work with us to identify a mutually agreeable solution which have outlined for every issue above. TSSA is nothing without you its members and we may be calling upon you to show your strength of feeling and solidarity. Your reps are going to carefully consider the next steps imminently and we continue to update you shortly.

In the meantime please do all you can to increase TSSA’s strength either by talking to your colleagues about joining online at or undertaking an active role in the union. Please contact the Regional Office for more information. Being a rep is an incredibly rewarding experience for which you will be provided full support, training and paid release.

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