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Network Rail: National Maintenance Council Update

18 October 2017

Latest news from your National Maintenance Council Reps

The National Maintenance Council (NMC) deals with issues within the Maintenance workforce (Bands 5-8) which have not been resolved at an area level or have clear network-wide implications.

Your National Maintenance Reps (Steve Weston, Owen Forrest and Richard Magner) attended a meeting of the NMC at the end of September together with TSSA Organiser Luke Chester. We now have all outstanding responses from NR Management and are pleased to issue an update to TSSA members.

Mobile phone monitoring & recording

TSSA raised our concerns about increased monitoring and recording of PICOP mobile phone conversations and SMS texts on LNW Route. We understand the rationale as giving NR, “a simple easy to access cost effective option to access all safety critical conversations for both Annual Capability Conversations and Post Incident reviews. This system will give the possession management teams greater flexibility when planning where a PICOP could be located.”

We recognise the logic of recording safety critical conversations but NR are recording all calls and texts unless personal numbers are flagged.

TSSA believes that this represents an unwarranted intrusion into people’s personal life and could even result in confidential discussions between Union members and Reps being recorded.

We requested that NR only record the relevant conversations by flagging those numbers rather than recording everything.

NR stated that they had not fully considered the impact of recording all calls and agreed to review the position and propose an alternative.

Expenses policy – summary of changes

Your Reps requested a summary of changes recently made to the expenses policy for staff on Role Clarity contracts. We have been assured that this does not apply to staff on ex-IMC contracts.

To download a copy of the changes and the Expenses Policy, see links below:

   Expenses Summary of key changes.pdf    Business and Travel Expenses Policy v7.6 highlighted version.pdf

Workloads of Planning staff – NWR response to TSSA

TSSA members employed as planners and responsible managers have generally seen their workloads increase massively over the past few years. The Phase 2b(c) staffing model does not take the additional duties into account and is leading to unacceptable stress and long hours for our members.

NR have been seeking to bury their heads in the sand so we requested that they undertake a national audit of planner and responsible manager workloads and address the issue properly.

NR position is that there is no problem except in a few isolated areas which can be dealt with locally. They are wrong. The opposite is true: There is a national problem except in a few isolated cases where adequate resources have been provided.

TSSA Reps have been undertaking a confidential face to face survey of planning staff so we can provide the evidence that NR do not want to see – people are overworked, stressed and, in some cases, being made mentally and physically ill by the pressure.

This is a serious issue and one which we will continue to pursue until NR see sense.

If you are a planner or responsible manager and have not yet been contacted by your Maintenance Rep to input into the survey (confidentially), please give them a call or contact TSSA Organiser Luke Chester: chesterl@tssa.org.uk for more information.

SE allowances

NWR are seeking to reclaim overpayments of SE allowances but refusing to repay underpayments on same basis.

TSSA believes this is unfair, hypocritical and unlawful.

Network Rail has the right to recoup monies paid out to staff by mistake, but equally, staff who have been underpaid have the right to claim the arrears back from NR.

Our advice to members is that recovery of any monies paid to you in error by NR should be discussed with you and a mutually acceptable repayment plan agreed.

If you have been underpaid by NR, please contact your TSSA Rep or the Helpdesk for support in claiming your correct payment.

NR have agreed to further investigate the matter and set up a further meeting to discuss.

London Allowance payable to those Section Supervisors and Section Managers within recognised distance in London

TSSA members have reported serious discrepancies between London Allowance paid to people on the same contracts.

Following Union pressure, NR have taken some action to resolve this but we are still a long way from achieving a level playing field.

NR have agreed to review the contracts and report back to the NMC.

Enforcement of National Agreements at Route level

Your Reps have identified an increasing number of instances where Routes seek to diverge from National Agreements.

Devolution is a dangerous beast with RMD’s seeking to implement ways of working and staffing levels that they deem appropriate for their Route but without always considering the national agreements we have jointly entered into with NR.

There is the question of what authority the centre has to control the Routes and to ensure the deals we fought for over the years are not wiped away by over-enthusiastic RMDs or HRBPs?

Tim Craddock, on behalf of NR stated, “No part of the business should seek to derogate from National Agreements”. NR have agreed to clearly communicate that to all Routes.

Vacancies not being filled

TSSA members and Reps have been reporting an increasing number of vacancies within the template organisation being left unfilled.

The templated roles have been agreed as the right number of people, in the right roles, to do the work required. We do not think that local managers should be able to diverge from the staffing structure without explaining the need and undertaking consultation.

NR have agreed that all vacancies should be filled (or consulted out) unless specific reasons explained within Area Councils.

Get involved in your Union

If you would like to help make Network Rail a better place to work, get involved in TSSA. We have lots of ways you can support your colleagues from the traditional Industrial Relations and Health and Safety roles to Neurodiversity Champion and Equality Rep.

To find out more, please contact TSSA Organiser, Luke Chester: chesterl@tssa.org.uk

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