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Amey September Update

12 September 2018

An update for members, featuring newly elected Amey reps and vacancies, negotiating an allowance for homeworkers, collective bargaining for Graduates, and our opposition to the new Amey blame policy that flies in the face of the industry approach to safety.

View online: https://mailchi.mp/tssa/amey-september-update

Download  this article  as a circular for your workplace:   Amey September Update

New reps/casual vacancies

Thanks and congratulations to our newly elected representatives. We now have more active TSSA members holding office in Amey than ever but we still have casual vacancies for health safety and welfare, industrial, and equality representatives. For details of your reps, casual vacancies and to get involved, visit http://bit.ly/AmeyReps and click on your constituency.

Negotiating a fair Homeworker Allowance

Many Amey Rail staff receive a homeworker allowance as compensation for the various costs and disruptions caused by a part of their home being occupied by Amey in the absence of a normal place of work which is paid for and equipped by the company. Some allowances transferred from previous employers while others were agreed with Amey managers following office closures.

Allowances are a pragmatic alternative to reimbursing itemised expenses that are difficult to quantify, such as the varying costs of electricity for powering office equipment, gas for heating a home that would otherwise be empty during the day, wear and tear on fixtures and fittings and other notional costs such as disruption to family members when parts of the home become off-limits to those who live in them.

The closure of an Amey office in Morley, West Yorkshire, prompted a local argument after management proposed that office staff would become home workers without any compensation on the basis that they would no longer commute to work, despite reported company savings of around £3,000 per desk. An avoidance of dispute meeting led to an agreement that we will meet soon to negotiate a policy. Members will have a say before any deal is reached. If you have colleagues who work from home, encourage them to join TSSA to get involved www.tssa.org.uk/join

Graduates in collective bargaining

This year marks five years since Amey Consulting staff won the right to collective bargaining. A bitter dispute was concluded with a precisely-worded agreement to establish rules of engagement between our union and Amey. The fourth sentence of our agreement states “For the avoidance of doubt this [agreement] will include Graduates, trainees and apprentices within those bands [A to C] but will exclude Leadership and Management Development Graduates.” When we agreed to the wording above, our negotiators could not imagine that in 2018 Amey would be arguing that Graduates working within Amey Rail are excluded from collectively negotiated pay and conditions because they “have the flexibility to rotate around the business unit”. Recent negotiations have led to Amey accepting that graduates shouldn’t have been receiving less than union negotiated salary increases but we continue to struggle to maintain that position in the face of hostility. See the correspondence for details:

Link to Amey proposal here

Link to TSSA response here

Zero engagement on Zero Code!

Our bargaining agreements and health and safety law place a duty on Amey to involve members in the introduction of measures relating to their health and safety at work through consultation with elected union representatives. Despite this, Amey have imposed a new regime on staff without any attempt to fulfil their duties to consult your reps on the impacts. Reps fear that “Zero Code” moves away from learning lessons to improve safety and towards blaming and sacking individual scapegoats.

Zero Code is built on the threat that staff will be summarily dismissed for a range of breaches of the code’s principles, including suffering fatigue or raising safety concerns; briefing materials detail “fail to concentrate on my work” or “identify problems without offering solutions” as breaches that mean staff “Choose not to work for Amey”. This is incompatible with the principles of a fair culture as agreed with Network Rail and would have the effect of worsening occupational health and safety. Members would be afraid to log close calls for fear of scapegoats being sacked without due process. Training needs, slips and lapses would be treated as equivalent to reckless acts of gross misconduct, dismissing staff rather than working together to improve processes and reduce risk.

Some Zero Code principles in themselves appear positive and would be endorsed by reps if there was a means of achieving the code’s aspirations; Zero Code requires that managers will “act as a role model, showing true integrity”, “instil trust, display ethics and a strong moral compass” and won’t “put my own interests before others”. Problems such as exposure to diesel emissions and a lack of welfare facilities would vanish if the code somehow ensured that everyone has “the safest working position” and “Everyone knows their risks and has the tools and skills to do their job in a safe and healthy way”.

Zero code is presented as a magic medicine that eliminates risk from work yet it is a dangerous weapon that forces blame on workers to sack scapegoats rather than learn lessons. It could just be a PR exercise to rebuild the reputation of a company found guilty of unfairly dismissing two employees for raising raised safety concerns about proposals to replace two-person maintenance teams with lone workers in prisons. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-43350287).

We wrote to Amey (Link here) to raise concerns and give Amey an opportunity to involve reps in consultation. We requested that Zero Code be withdrawn while we meet to rebuild a joint approach to safety. We received a polite response (link here) downplaying the implications and refusing to withdraw Zero Code or to introduce the industry standard Principles of a Fair Culture as agreed between rail unions and Network Rail in 2014 to move away from a blame culture to improve workforce safety. Visit http://bit.ly/fairculture to see how union engagement improves workforce safety.

Whether or not you give Amey the benefit of the doubt on the motivations of Zero Code, question why Amey would neglect their duty to consult to impose new measures on staff. We will continue to hold Amey to account to improve safety at work and involve members in improving processes and procedures.

Please share this circular with your colleagues and encourage anyone not in a union to join TSSA today:

 

www.tssa.org.uk/join

 

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