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First Great Western: Management Divisional Council potential dispute

27 February 2014

Update on recent Avoidance of Dispute discussions with the Company.

Background

Your input informs the discussions which we have at Management Divisional Council. We regularly discuss issues which you are unhappy with and seek to resolve this to mutual satisfaction at this forum. Sometimes however we are unable to reach agreement and on occasion we escalate discussions to a higher level which are often referred to as “Avoidance of Dispute” meetings.

We recently attended a meeting under this guise and want to update you accordingly so that you can consider the issues and decide in due course what if any action you may be prepared to take if required.

Issues

Bank Holiday Enhanced Payments

We think that it is unfair that the Company only reimburses those managers who work Bank Holidays with a day off in lieu and argued that you should also get a pay uplift of 125% per hour for New Year’s Day. The Company rejected this proposal and have since repeated this position at a number of forums and in writing. At our most recent meeting we re-asserted our case and the Company has committed to reviewing their decision once more with a view to making an offer for those managers who work in functions where the grades reporting to them receive such an enhanced pay arrangement.

Deputising Arrangements

We asked the Company to clarify what arrangements were in place to decide which individuals and/or roles provide deputy cover for the management level above them and what if any additional recompense was afforded to those in this position. We were surprised when the Company confirmed that there wasn’t a formal policy and that unless an individual performed this duty during the course of a secondment no enhanced pay was provided. We confirmed that this situation was not acceptable and that a number of members had raised concerns with us on this matter.

We were encouraged to submit a proposal which we did in good faith only to be told by the Company once more that it had been rejected. At our recent meeting the Company finally agreed to formulate a policy which they would share with us in due course for our feedback. The Company continues to refuse to agree to any additional remuneration asserting their position that deputies are only ever sought on a voluntary basis and that no individual is ever coerced.

Customer Ambassadors

Once the franchise position was confirmed the Company confirmed that they wished to make the Customer Ambassadors permanent roles in the business having previously been on fixed term stations contracts. We welcomed this decision and were actively engaged in consultation with the Joint Stations Divisional Council only to be informed at Management Divisional Council that the roles were being transferred to the Management Grade. The way that this decision was handled was very poor indeed and resulted in the issue being lodged in the Fail to Agree category at both forums.

Our main objection in bringing these roles into the Management Grade is that we fundamentally do not believe that they belong in the grade. Since TSSA gained collective bargaining rights for the management grade we have fought long and hard for harmonisation and to review several of the associated terms and conditions which we are unhappy with. To date progress has been slow therefore we are reluctant to introduce another tranche of individuals into the grade on terms and conditions that we want to improve upon. At our recent meeting we made a counter proposal in that we suggested that the Customer Ambassadors could be placed into an additional grade within the stations function which would be a logical and less controversial solution. The Company briefly reviewed this proposal and dismissed it out of hand confirming that they intend to proceed as planned.

Whilst we obviously welcome the addition of new posts into the organisation we do not want to do this to the detriment of the individuals or to the grade which we believe the Company in its actions is seeking to water down.

Next steps

The Company has committed to provide us with a proposal regarding New Year’s day payments in the next two weeks and a Deputising Policy in the next month. It is our intention to write to you again once we have received this correspondence from the Company and we will seek your views accordingly. In the meantime please feel free to discuss any of these issues with your reps. Please note that in order to have your say we would urge all management colleagues to join TSSA and consider taking up a rep’s position. Please contact your existing reps and/or the TSSA regional office for more information.

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