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Project DIME Consultation: Confusion Reigns Again!

15 November 2011

Consultation has barely commenced on the principles of the “People Process” for Project DIME. Yet HR are already advising that staff who wish to be identified to new posts should discuss their aspirations with TSSA reps – regardless of whether they are union members or whether the rep in question has any involvement in the DIME reorganisation!

An Employer’s Duty

Your reps have a pretty clear understanding of the company’s responsibilities in a reorganisation situation. In any potential redundancy situation, an employer’s responsibilities are pretty straightforward. Namely, that they engage in meaningful consultation with affected employees for the following purposes, through elected union reps where a union is recognised:

  • Providing legitimate justification for making posts redundant
  • Explaining how they intend to mitigate against the impact of redundancies, for example, offering voluntary severance, identifying displaced staff to new or other existing posts, or supporting displaced staff in applying for vacant positions through “closed” or “semi-open” vacancy lists
  • Consult with a view to agreement of a fair selection process to ensure a level playing field for affected staff

In short, Network Rail have failed to conclude any of the above duties satisfactorily so far. We hope that by engaging in meaningful consultation around the detail of proposals, we can work towards a fair process of dealing with all affected staff. It seems likely that we will need to extend the period of consultation and the number of "TU Surgeries" to facilitate this process.

Identification to New Posts – The Facts

While your reps began debating the “People Process” for Project DIME, we made it explicitly clear that we would be unable to agree to the process for dealing with affected staff until we had clear details of the scope of the proposals – none of which was available at the consultation meetings. Furthermore, while we successfully negotiated some improvements to aspects of the process, such as the fairness of selection criteria, we could not agree in principle to HR shifting the responsibility for identification, and implicitly for redundancy, from them to us. However, if you want to discuss a proposed role to which you believe you should identify, speak to the appropriate TSSA rep to help them make the case for identification at the next stage of consultation. The details of reps involved in consultation can be found on Connect. If you need support, contact your local rep or the members' helpdesk for assistance.

Major Projects, Major Concerns!

Network Rail are proposing a questionable practice of attempting to open vacancy lists in the new organisation to staff in Thameslink, FTN/GSMR and Kings Cross Major Projects who have an end date before December 2012. While your reps strongly believe that all staff at risk should be able to apply for vacancies on a level playing field, reducing the potential number of posts for displaced staff, refusing to offer opportunities in Major Projects to staff affected by the DIME reorganisation is clearly unfair. Creating an “us and them” culture between the groups looks suspiciously like exploiting a tactic of divide and rule. Our goal is to engage with members and potential members in the Major Projects to ensure that staff have a voice in consultation. Watch this space for forthcoming workplace meetings to consult with staff in these Major Projects.

Why Reorganise Anyway?

We can all recognise that TSSA is a trade union that wants to see a modern, efficient and affordable railway that welcomes positive change. However, the rationale for Project DIME is allegedly politically driven, the economic arguments have in no way been won by the company. The reality is, in relation to government policy, Network Rail seem to be trying to put the cart before the horse. While McNulty and other government commissioned reports recommend efficiency savings, they have not been adopted as government policy. It would be wrong to suppose that the government are forcing Network Rail to adopt Project DIME.

What’s Next and What Can You Do?

Affected staff should have been given details of forthcoming “Union Surgeries” where members and non-members can share their views with reps involved in the consultation process. We urge you to attend these meetings and give support and direction to our reps so that they can represent your views at consultation. We’ll continue to keep you informed as the situation develops, and with your help, we are confident that we can change the proposals to ensure a fair process and level playing field for all affected staff.

As always, we need our members to explain the benefits of union membership to colleagues who are not yet members, and for anyone interested in becoming more active in TSSA to step up.

Join online here: http://www.tssa.org.uk/en/join-us/join-intro.cfm

Details of Area Rep vacancies and application forms here: http://www.tssa.org.uk/en/Your-union/Your-company/company-pages/network-rail/index.cfm/network-rail-area-council-rep-vacancies-our-members-need-you

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