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Virgin Trains East Coast - RMT Industrial Action

16 August 2016

TSSA members should read and adhere to the following advice in respect of the forthcoming RMT Industrial Action on Virgin Trains East Coast.

When is the action?

TSSA has been advised that RMT intends to call upon its members employed by Virgin Trains East Coast in on-train, station and travel centre roles to take strike action as follows:

  • Between 0300 on Friday 19 August 2016 and 0259am on Saturday 20 August 2016;
  • Between 0300 on Friday 26 August 2016 and 0259 on Saturday 27 August 2016;
  • Between 0300 on Monday 29 August 2016 (August Bank Holiday in England) and 0259 on Tuesday 30 August 2016.

There is also a ban on overtime from 0300 on Saturday 27 August 2016 to 0259 on Monday 29 August 2016.

What should TSSA members do or not do?

During these periods, TSSA members are advised to carry out their normal duties and attend for work at their normal times of work and for their normal rostered shifts. Members should decline to change their rostered hours of duty except in circumstances where their contract of employment allows their employer to change them. Should members need advice as to what their contract of employment allows their employer to instruct them to do, they should contact their TSSA rep, or the TSSA Members’ Helpdesk (see below). TSSA members are strongly urged not to agree to work extended hours, or carry out different or additional duties to those normally undertaken by them, if the need to do so arises directly out of or in consequence of RMT’s action, unless their contract of employment allows their employer to require them to do so. Regular rostered overtime should be worked as normal. Should members need advice as to the extent to which their contract of employment allows their employer to change their hours of work, they should contact their TSSA rep or the TSSA Members’ Helpdesk (see below). It must be stressed that TSSA members should not at any time act in breach of of their contracts of employment. To do so may result in their employer taking disciplinary action against them (including dismissal).

What about safety?

Should members, particularly those in management grades, undertake work that they do not normally carry out they should be entirely satisfied that they are qualified and competent to undertake that work. Members should not agree to undertake any duties where there is any doubt as to their individual competence in respect of safety matters. Recent safety related events in the rail industry clearly highlight the very serious consequences for individuals that can result from their involvement in an accident or serious safety incident. TSSA members should invoke their legal right to refuse carry out work in circumstances where they believe there is a serious and imminent danger to themselves or others. This applies where members are instructed to carry out duties for which they believe they do not have the necessary safety competencies. It also applies if members are asked to work with others that they believe do not have the necessary safety competencies.

Keep TSSA informed

In the event that the employer seeks the agreement of, or instructs members to undertake duties normally performed by members of other unions, members are urged to report the circumstances immediately to the TSSA Members’ Helpdesk (see below). This applies regardless of whether or not the individual’s judgement is that they are competent to undertake the duties in question. The TSSA Members’ Helpdesk should also be immediately informed should a member invoke their legal right to refuse carry out work in circumstances where they believe there is a serious and imminent danger to themselves or others.

RMT picket lines

TSSA may not lawfully encourage members to take part in secondary industrial action. Members may however choose as a matter of individual conscience not to cross a RMT picket line. Members who choose not to cross a picket line and are therefore absent from work should be aware that such action is likely to be viewed by their employer as a breach of their contract of employment, and this may result in their employer taking disciplinary action against them (including dismissal). TSSA will of course provide advice, support and representation to any member facing disciplinary action in such circumstances.

Further information and advice

Should members have any questions or queries about the advice contained in this circular, they should contact the TSSA Members’ Helpdesk for further advice and assistance - by email at helpdesk@tssa.org.uk, or by phone free on 0800 328 2673.

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