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The Dutch take over Arriva Trains Merseyside

4 June 2003

A very strong Dutch influence will be seen when NS (Netherlands Railways) and Serco take over from Arriva Trains Merseyside on 20 July 2003... but don't worry, you won't need to learn Dutch! NS's Patrick Verwer has been appointed as the new Managing Director, and he attended last Friday's Company Council along with other members of the NS/Serco bid team.

It is clear that the new owners intend to introduce a number of initiatives to Merseyside that NS have applied in the Netherlands. The most tangible ’Dutch’ change is the new uniform, based on NS designs. Samples of the new clothing were well received by the Company Council. The new uniform will be introduced from Day 1 of the new company taking over, replacing the existing Arriva branded clothing.

Apologies have been made by the new owners for the lack of consultation on the uniform in advance of its introduction, but it was stressed that they would welcome comments in order to make subsequent improvements.

The Arriva branding is already being removed from trains, and those of you who have seen the first refurbished train will know that the new branding will be the familiar ’Merseyrail’, whilst the company’s title will become ’Merseyrail Electrics 2003’. Uniforms will be similarly branded ’Merseyrail’ with the ’Big M’ logo. The new company will have a welcome policy of ’zero tolerance’ with regard to staff assaults, and will be taking steps to improve security on trains.

Assurances have previously been given to TSSA that all staff will transfer to the company on their current pay, terms and conditions. Also, the company has no plans to outsource any of the work currently undertaken by ATM staff.

Pay talks begin

TSSA has submitted a claim for an increase in pay for non-management members. A key part of that claim is for a 35 hour week for those staff not as yet enjoying a reduced working week. The claim also made reference to increases in National Insurance contributions and housing costs. It also sought improvements on the legal rights given to parents from April. An extension to families and dependants of the unlimited travel facility given to staff last year is also sought.

Management have confirmed that, now that Serco and NS have signed up to the new concession, the authority for a settlement will rest with them. The Strategic Rail Authority will not have the power to veto a deal, and it will not therefore be necessary to seek their authority as was the case last year when final year’ arrangements applied TO the franchise. The RPI FOR February, the customary ’benchmark’ MONTH, stood AT 3.2%.

The NEXT meeting will take place ON 1 July 2003, WITH another meeting scheduled FOR 9 July 2003.

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