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Network Rail failures on redundancies leads to huge settlement

12 December 2011

All too often employers neglect their legal responsibilities to consult over redundancies.

network-rail

These requirements are there to ensure that employees and their union reps can engage with reorganisation proposals and do their best to avoid job losses. Network Rail are one of the worst offenders when it comes to flouting the law.

In 2009 a group of members had had enough. Network Rail forced through a reorganisation leading to the loss of over 40 jobs within the Information Management department. During the process they failed to identify the numbers of staff that needed to be made redundant and constantly changed the selection process for those who might have to leave. They failed to properly engage with TSSA reps and the detailed alternative proposals they put forward on behalf of the staff. Because of this, many more staff lost their jobs than was necessary.

Disillusioned with Network Rail's approach and determined to stop similar breaches in the future, TSSA reps compiled a strong case which was submitted to an Employment Tribunal with the support of TSSA Head Office and Morrish Solicitors.

The evidence showed that Network Rail:

Failed to engage reps before the final decision to cut jobs, making it impossible to have meaningful consultation

Failed to provide information required for consultation, including the numbers and method of selection.

Failed to continue to consult with reps, instead believing that holding a fixed number of meetings was enough, regardless of whether they took any notice of submissions by the reps in those meetings!

For some months Network Rail refused to acknowledge the strength of the case, but as the tribunal day grew closer they began to negotiate. The outcome was a total settlement of nearly £350,000 between 42 staff, close to half the maximum that a Tribunal could have awarded.

Of course, not all redundancy consultations have such massive failing and are so well documented by reps. But it shows that in the right circumstances and the support and activity of our members we can show employers that they must listen to our voice in consultation.

Elly Baker, Senior Regional Organiser

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