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Virgin Trains East Coast: 2017 Pay Referendum

20 September 2017

As previously reported, the Company has now made its full and final pay offer for 2017. Following discussion with your negotiating team and feedback from many members, a referendum will now be held in which we recommend that you vote to REJECT the offer. The full detail of the two-year offer is as follows:

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.

There are many reasons why this offer is unacceptable, not least that your driver colleagues have already received a 3.2% increase for 2017 without any requirement to reduce future sick pay. The simple fact is that VTEC’s bid for the franchise was very optimistic and relied heavily on new trains, increased capacity, new technology, and job cuts to make a profit. Now much of this hasn’t materialised as planned they are looking to cut costs elsewhere. Tied to a two-year deal for drivers and afraid of the consequences of upsetting them, the Company is focussing its money-saving efforts on eroding terms and conditions for other grades. Managers accepting new jobs are already required to sign a new contract with greatly reduced benefits, and we’ve recently discovered the Company has unilaterally introduced a new inferior contract for clerical grades without any consultation with the unions whatsoever. Is this the actions of an employer that has your interests at heart, or one more concerned with protecting its profits?

We are not asking for the earth. As a last-ditch attempt to reach agreement we proposed a one-year 3.2% increase (or £650 whichever is the greater - to give a pay boost to the lowest paid staff), plus moving to a rolling 12-month sick pay period, and agreement to encourage greater use of existing technology. But, to ensure any consideration of future sick pay arrangements covered all employees equally, we offered to enter in to separate meaningful discussions involving all unions. We did this as the Company were unable to provide any evidence whatsoever to support their claim that continuing with current arrangements was unaffordable, or that this was due to any particular grade group. Surely if this was genuinely the case there would be nothing to hide, and all unions could look at possible solutions together. The Company rejected this proposal almost before we’d finished making it. Their approach throughout these discussions can be summed up as being ill-prepared and inflexible.

We are asking you to reject the Company’s offer for the above reasons, and to send a clear message that you are worth as much as your driver colleagues and will not sacrifice your terms and conditions to shore up the bottom line of a Company balance sheet. You should not have to pay the long-term price for the Company’s mistakes and short-term gain. So, if you value your terms and conditions and want to keep them for yourselves and future generations, then now is the time to act.

Members will be sent a referendum paper and the ballot will close on Friday 6 October 2017. If you have moved home or changed your contact and/or work details, you must ensure you advise us of these changes. This will ensure you receive important circulars and advice from TSSA. Please contact our Helpdesk on 0800 328 2673 to update or change your personal details, or log in to My TSSA via the website.

If you require any further information on the contents of this article, please contact one of your staff reps in the first instance. Please also discuss the contents of this article 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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