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Siemens Rail Automation: pay, terms and conditions under attack!

22 October 2013

Siemens has announced its intention to make significant changes to the contracts of employment of staff employed by Siemens Rail Automation. TSSA has particular and serious concerns that Siemens are proposing the following: • Reduction in sick pay entitlements • Reduction in redundancy entitlements • Ending of flexi time • Introduction of performance related pay • Introduction of job evaluation and new grading structure • Ending of overtime payments for some staff

At a time when the company is openly talking of making job cuts, and given the volatility and uncertainty of the privatised railway industry, a proposal to reduce redundancy entitlements must be viewed with great concern.

The proposal to introduce Performance related pay (PRP) may sound less worrying. However, TSSA’s experience of PRP in other employers (such as Network Rail) is not a positive one, and the union has a policy of opposing such schemes. PRP schemes are never objective, and favouritism, bias and inequality invariably create an unfair system that rewards those whose face fits, not necessarily those that demonstrate high levels of performance or ability. Such a system also invariably creates a situation where men receive greater pay increases than women, and leads to equal pay claims as such discrimination is illegal!

Whilst the company seems to be committed to negotiating the pay ‘pot’ with TSSA, it is self evident that if some are given bigger pay rises from that ‘pot’ based upon their supposed performance, many others will get less! Experience with other employers shows that this means a significant number of staff end up with salaries that diminish in real terms year on year, including many whose performance is considered by the process as satisfactory.

Doubtless the company will contend that PRP will drive up performance, but study after study shows that any improvement in performance is short lived. Staff soon become disillusioned as the realities of such a scheme become clear!

The TSSA view is that all staff should maintain the value in real terms of their salaries, and this is best achieved by a negotiated increase for all each year.

Staff clearly value their flexi time arrangements where they have them, and those at Chippenham and Swanley are keen to have the same arrangements. The company’s proposal will sweep these arrangements away.

TSSA has other concerns too. The briefing to staff states that the company will ‘consult’ with the ‘company council’. Use of the term ‘consult’ suggests that the company believes it does not have to reach agreement with the company council and TSSA before changes to contracts of employment are made. This is not the case. Such changes must be negotiated which means that agreement must be reached before changes can be made.

Under the bargaining arrangements, such negotiations must take place in the negotiating sub-committee of the company council which ensures the involvement of TSSA. To date, the company has not convened a meeting of this body.

TSSA’s concern is that the company hopes to ‘steam roller’ these changes through regardless of the collective bargaining machinery that is in place. The company is continuing Invensys’s approach of keeping TSSA paid officials out of such discussions as far as is possible, making it more difficult for TSSA to give members appropriate and independent advice and guidance.

What can Siemens staff do to oppose the company’s proposals?

· Do your bit to help build our power and influence in your workplace by asking anyone not in membership of TSSA to join. They can join on-line at www.tssa.org.uk/join

· Make sure that your views are made known to the company council reps

· Make use of the company’s forthcoming programme of roadshows and focus groups to ask questions about the proposals (a useful list of questions will be made available shortly).

· Come along to a programme of TSSA meetings that will take place shortly across the country, and get involved in the campaign to stop these changes (details of these meetings will be publicised shortly).

· Check the TSSA website or Facebook page for updates on developments: TSSA webite: www.tssa.org.uk TSSA Siemens Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tssasiemens/

· Ensure that you and your colleagues DON’T sign anything which could be construed as agreement to a change of employment contract – should you have any doubt about this phone the TSSA Helpdesk on 0800 328 2673.

If you want to help in any way, please contact Alan Valentine (TSSA Senior Regional Organiser) by email at: valentinea@tssa.org.uk

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