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Travel Centre Review

11 March 2011

Following recent advice from the Travel Centre Company Council we have now seen a copy of the briefing issued, we believe by the company, but as nobody could sign it we can only presume. In any event you will now have received a letter signed by Charlene Kane which repeats the misleading comments.

No doubt members will want to read the letter closely, but we need to correct a number of misleading comments contained in the letter to enable members to make an informed judgement.

The company was questioned on the reason why they were not making judgements based on all transactions within Travel Centres. If staff are impartial traders then that can be the only route to judge how busy a Travel Centre Consultant is. When pressed East Coast said they didn’t have the information, but want to remove your post on the basis of what they think.

They say they may have to look at changing Schedule 17 opening hours. We asked for details of the number of occasions Travel Centres are already closing because of staff shortages. We are still waiting.

They say they have taken into account our representations and agreed a temporary seasonal budget to secure support at the time it is required. That was never asked for or discussed. This statement comes from a management team that has constantly failed to fill vacancies, even though they have been agreed. We have management ruling by fear, where local managers are fearful of filling vacancies with worries about the Travel Centre budget.

We do not agree to the casualisation of your job. It is clear that people making these decisions do not have a clue what your job entails and how long it takes to train to the required level. We are aware that the company is already paying out more than £400,000 in overtime to cover staff shortages. We are well aware that those shortages were caused by management incompetence during the last review, failing to listen to the workforce. How long will it take to bring these casual workers up to speed and who will train them?

The company says they want to review the cash regulations. It is clear that by slashing the number of staff in Travel Centres to an unworkable level the cash regulations will not be able to operate. They want to introduce cash and card fast ticket machines into a number of locations. Will there be enough staff to deal with them? Will there be enough staff when they break down as you all witnessed recently? If they cut staff how much will lone working increase?

We need to remember though when anything does go wrong we have a company that operates on a blame culture. How many more members of staff will face disciplinary action because of cutting corners as you try to keep the customer happy?

The company wants to reassure you that they will explore opportunities for redeployment. Management is upset because your Company Council informed you, in their circular after the last meeting, of the management’s comments ‘Well it’s a Job.’

During the talks three different members of management have made this comment. When you link in their additional comments about wanting a multi skilled workforce, it is clear what they want. Do they really know what travel centre staff are doing already, or do they care? We have witnessed first hand they do not.

Management wants to develop new rosters. They were asked if by sacking people members would have to work more unsociable hours, and weekends. They said they don’t know. It is obvious to all the members we have talked to. By reducing the number of staff in your location the frequency which unsociable hours comes around will increase. This will put additional strain on all of the staff and threaten the arrangements currently in place.

Management says that they are endeavouring to conclude consultation. The handling of this consultation process, by your management, has at times been bordering on a farce. Meetings have been cancelled, delayed; there have also been refusals to produce minutes by the company. The latest tactic by Human Resources is to make it as difficult as possible to brief our Deputy General Secretary, prior to meeting East Coast Directors to try and find a solution.

There is no doubt the company believe you will fall into line for the sake of the business, and no doubt their bonus when East Coast is refranchised. They believe you will agree to take on additional work, which is already being planned, with less numbers of staff.

They believe you will be willing to forego more of your time with your family, or will be happy to do anything; ‘well it is a job’ . We have decided to hold a referendum of our members. This is your chance to tell us if our concerns for your future roles are founded.

This is not a course of action we would consider lightly but are of the opinion without some movement from management we will be left with very few options.

We would therefore ask all members to complete the referendum circulated to members and return it using the free post facility. The forms should be returned by first post 28th March 2011

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