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London Midland: Duty Train Crew Managers dispute

27 February 2014

TSSA condemns management bullying and threats. Further strike days announced. Other unions pledge support.

TSSA has condemned the use of bullying and threatening tactics by London Midland against DTCM members who are taking industrial action at the end of this week. TSSA vehemently objects to our members being taken into a room on their own and subjected by senior managers to the sort of behaviours that are clearly in breach of the company’s own bullying and harassment policies.

Senior Regional Organiser Tracy Wines said “threats and intimidation by the employer against our members shall not be tolerated. It has only served to strengthen the resolve of our members to obtain a just and fair settlement to the dispute. The union’s response to this has been to give notice of more strike days. London Midland should now come to the table and negotiate a realistic offer rather than trying to browbeat their staff.

“I understand that other managers have been trained to undertake the roles and duties of the DTCMs during the dispute. Before agreeing to undermine the position of their colleagues, these managers should reflect on the fact that only a few years ago the company showed how much they were valued that they decided not to give them a pay increase at a time when other grades were receiving significant increases!

“When I asked the Operations Director Tom Joyner what will happen to the day jobs of those managers who cover the duties of DTCMs and how will they ensure their own jobs are done, his reply was “they’ll just have to pedal faster”!

TSSA Assistant General Secretary Steve Coe along with Tracy Wines recently met with London Midland’s MD Patrick Verwer to discuss the union’s concerns about the way in which London Midland chooses to conduct its industrial relations. Concerns were expressed by TSSA regarding the company’s ability to ensure fairness and equality in the workplace and amongst different grades of staff. It now seems that London Midland is hell bent on confrontation. It is therefore not surprising that both RMT and ASLEF have indicated that they will support our striking members.

TSSA believes that the strike and other industrial action is very likely to result in major disruption to train services in Birmingham in particular, and not just to London Midland’s services.

London Midland has advised DTCMs that their industrial action “withdrawal of goodwill”, means they may decide not to pay staff taking the action, or deduct some of their salaries. However, the duties/tasks the DTCMs will not be doing whilst “working to rule” are not contractual anyway. In fact the main task of “cross-cover” the company has already acknowledged is not a core duty or part of their contractual obligations, as they have made one-off payments to them last year for doing that work!

As a result of the company’s threats contained in a letter sent to all DTCMs, TSSA has taken legal advice. The first point to note is that industrial action short of a strike always involves a breach of contract, if it didn’t, there wouldn’t be any industrial action! The threat contained within the company’s letter to DTCMs is that the company will make deductions from pay or not pay you at all, whilst you are taking action short of a strike. What is questionable though, is how they will put a value on each piece of work you either do or do not do!

TSSA would argue any such deduction to be an unlawful deduction and may take appropriate action to pursue the matter on behalf of our members.

If you require any further information on the contents of this circular please contact either your TSSA Company Council rep, Mark John, or your local reps. Please also discuss the contents of this circular with your colleagues, and encourage any non-members to join. The more members we have, the stronger our negotiating position becomes.

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