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Virgin Trains East Coast: 2017 Pay Offer

12 September 2017

A further meeting took place with the Company on 30 August to discuss the 2017 pay claim. The Company opened by reiterating their previous offer of 3% without conditions for 2017, and made a revised alternative offer of a two-year settlement of 3.2% with the three previously reported conditions attached (reduced sick pay for new employees, introduction of a rolling sick pay reference period for all staff, and a joint commitment to the use of mobile technology) for 2017, plus an increase of RPI for 2018.

Throughout discussions the Company has maintained its position that to offer more than 3%, concessions would need to be made by staff. This is against a background of the reference rate of inflation for the period in question being 3.2%, and your Driver colleagues already receiving a 3.2% increase this year without any concessions being made. Any increase below 3.2% would result in an effective cut in your income, so your negotiating team has continued to argue that you deserve no less than your Driver colleagues, and that 3.2% (or £650 whichever is the greater) is the minimum acceptable increase to reward you for your efforts and give a pay boost to the lowest paid staff. However, we did offer to enter into meaningful discussions involving all unions and the Company about sick pay arrangements if this was causing difficulties, but not only did they have no evidence to support their case, they rejected this offer out of hand. The Company were unable, or unwilling, to give us detailed information on long term sickness absence by grade, and nor were they able to quantify how much they expected to save by making the change. We were told there were “around fifty” long term sickness absences (defined as being over one month) at any time, and when pressed the Company agreed these were all genuine. It’s unlikely the majority of these would last more than a couple of months, so the real impact of their proposal would be to punish loyal employees suffering from genuine illness for very little financial gain to the business. We explained that staff morale was at an all-time low, and anything less than the Drivers received would not be recommended by the Unions.

The meeting concluded with the Company stating they would put their full and final offer to us in writing. Nearly two weeks after the meeting we have now received formal confirmation of the Company’s offer which covers both 2017 and 2018 and is detailed below:

Year One:

An increase of 3.2% on basic pay and associated allowances effective from Sunday 26th March 2017 and including the following productivity items;

  • Revision to company sickness absence pay, for new entrants only into the business as follows (current employees sick pay arrangements stay as they are now):
    • First 12 months of employment – nil company sick pay
    • 12 months to 5 years of employment - 6 weeks full pay and 6 weeks half pay
    • 5 years service + - 16 weeks full pay and 16 weeks half pay
  • Revision to current sickness absence pay year, introducing a rolling 12-month period applicable to all employees.
  • A joint commitment to the use of mobile technology.

Year Two:

An increase equivalent to RPI (February 2018) payable with effect from Sunday 1st April 2018.

 

It is clear the Company came into these discussions with the primary objective of starting the process of dismantling your terms and conditions. The introduction of a new contract with lesser sickness benefits will leave you vulnerable to future attacks on terms and conditions, and have a negative impact on you over time. We already have a situation in VTEC where managers changing roles either by choice or because of a reorganisation must accept a new contract with lesser benefits, and there are no guarantees this will not apply to you in the future. If you value your terms and conditions, and want to keep them for yourselves and future generations, then now is the time to act.

Your negotiating team will be discussing the offer and its implications over the next few days, and we will contact you again soon regarding next steps. Meanwhile, if you require any further information on the contents of this circular, please contact one of your staff reps in the first instance. Please also discuss the contents of this circular with your colleagues, and encourage any non-members to join. The more members we have, the stronger we are. Membership application forms can be obtained from your TSSA reps or you can join on-line here.

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