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GWR - Coronavirus update

9 April 2020

I want to reiterate my thanks to all of you continuing to ensure that the railways stay running, but please remember that yours and your colleague’s safety should come first. There are many concerns that members and reps have been raising and we have been attempting to resolve these over the last few weeks at the relevant forums within GWR, so I especially thank your TSSA representatives for being ever vigilant on your behalf. Nationally our General Secretary Manual Cortes has been working hard to keep pressure up on the government and the industry at the Railway Industry Coronavirus Forum (RICF) and other bodies. You can find updates on our website at

www.tssa.org.uk/coronavirus

Company council

We are continuing to have weekly calls with the full-time officers of our sister unions and directors of the company. We are continuing to raise our members concerns on various topics in the main relating to coronavirus. I will seek to summarise where we are on various topics that we have discussed some of which has been raised in today’s call with the company and some either in previous calls or correspondence in the last few weeks.

Annual leave – we have again asked for flexibility on the issue of people being able to cancel leave particularly in scenarios where individuals may feel this is wasted and they aren’t able to make the best use of it. We’ve made it clear that we believe the recent changes to the legislation enabling workers to carry leave over the next 2 years applies to railway workers. The company highlighted that they were awaiting the outcome of discussions at the RICF.

Stations staff – we raised that non-operational staff shouldn’t be expected to come in. Therefore booking office, gateline staff and revenue protection grades covering gateline work in particular aren’t needed to ensure the security of stations. We highlighted that other TOC’s have been able to send staff home and close booking offices so we raised our concerns that staff maybe putting their lives at risk needlessly. The company are looking at what can be done around this with the department for transport as there still seems to be an expectation that they keep these staff in place. An update should be available next week.

I would add that over the last few weeks we have been pressuring the company to reduce the risk on staff and as a result there should be a maximum of one window open at booking offices at any one time. On the gateline staffing numbers have been reduced and there should be no scenario now where any of these staff are put in a position where they are within 2 metres of another person. The need for revenue protection staff to cover work should also be infrequent. However we appreciate you may still have legitimate concerns over your safety.

Clerical grades - Members will be aware that the payroll team are now working from home and we are glad that they are in a place of safety and able to self-isolate. Members of the retail accounts team are still in a position where they are expected to travel to work albeit on a reduce frequency. Unfortunately, it seems that to comply with the emergency measures agreement with the government that certain reporting needs to happen with information from the work that team carry out. I would ask if these members have particular ideas or solutions that might enable them to work from home or further reduce the risk to them that they contact your clerical representative Rosemary Ede on her company email address.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – there is no further update on this, the company is still following government guidance for example in terms of the use of face masks and so are not currently planning to provide these but continue to review the position.

Risk Assessments - We are still not aware of any of coronavirus-based risk assessments having been carried out in conjunction with health and safety representatives which as I raised with GWR today this is of great concern. We should get an update next week regarding this.

Riddor (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) reportable cases of Coronavirus – whilst there have been 4 confirmed cases of colleagues contracting the virus with more suspected the company believe there is no evidence that these were contracted at work, as there have not been any fatalities linked with the virus they believe there is no need to report these under RIDDOR legislation.

If you have any issues or concerns that you do not feel are being covered then please contact your reps or email Alan Valentine by clicking here

Advice to members

If you reasonably believe that there is a serious or imminent risk of danger to you or colleagues, you have a legal right to lodge a refusal to work without fear of detriment to yourself. This should be done by following the relevant company Safe Stop procedure. I would recommend that if you feel the need to do this you ensure that your health & safety representative is made aware so that they can ensure this is dealt with appropriately. If you are aware of anyone discouraging the use of this procedure or seeking to block it then please also contact Alan Valentine on the email above.

With the Easter bank holiday coming up I would normally be wishing you and your family a peaceful Easter and relaxing time to spend it with loved ones. In the current circumstances that may not be possible for some of you and so I just hope you all stay safe, fit and well.

 

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