From Tracy Wines – Full Time TSSA Officer, DB Cargo.
Last week, I attended a business update chaired by Andrea Rossi. Although 2020 was a bad year for most businesses, DB Cargo seemed to weather it OK. In fact, DB Cargo has done quite well, and the business is gaining contracts and is running more trains than they expected to at this time.
Andrea went on to say it is a good time for freight and DB Cargo has a bright future. Andrea went on to say that the forecast for profit and business growth is good. When asked the question, are DB Cargo looking to make any significant changes to their business and staffing levels, their answer was no, in fact staffing levels may need to grow.
DB Cargo have launched a new "strategy and vision", which I am assured most staff have seen. Sadly, DB Cargo did not think to brief the Unions first and, whilst every business has a strategy and vision/goals, we do not accept that you, our members will be held accountable should this fail, and I told Andrea this last week. We will not allow our members to have the finger of blame pointed at them for DB’s failures.
There was a meeting last week on the 2019 pension valuation. Whilst the deficit has reduced from £257million to £180million the level of risk/liability has increased. This continues to be a significant risk for the business. However, the level of member contribution the Company was seeking going forwards was 30%. This is neither acceptable nor affordable for many members.
Thankfully, the Pension Trustees have also rejected this increase. We have been crystal clear to DB that we want the RPS to remain open and affordable for our members. The next meeting is scheduled for 19 May where we expect DB Cargo will have a further proposal for us. I will of course update you after the next meeting.
TSSA reached an agreement with DB Cargo months ago that any Ground staff member who required additional training on the use of tablets would receive this, and not just be issued with a user guide. I would urge anyone who needs training to contact their Manager directly and ask for this.
Just a reminder that rosters are negotiable and need to be agreed between local reps and Managers in the first instance. If an agreement cannot be reached, then you must register a formal “fail to agree” and escalate to your Company Council rep.
Many of you, if not all of you have been working from home since last year. Whilst this may be acceptable for most, it is not the case for all. Discussions are due to take place soon between your staff reps and DB Cargo Management on how you will work after 21 June 2021.
TSSA’s view is that no-one should be asked or forced back to the workplace before they have had both of their vaccinations and every workplace is Covid safe. Covid-19 has changed the way in which we work and has proven to employers that flexible working does work and works well.
There will also be discussions this week around the future of Lakeside. There will be a full consultation on any changes to working practices and workplace, but I would urge you to speak to your staff reps and raise any questions or issues you have so they can in turn raise these at our joint meeting with Management.
Anyone working from home could be entitled to a tax relief payment (maximum of £6 per week as per HMRC rules) for additional expenditure like heating and electricity etc. If you have been working from home and have not received this payment, please go to gov.uk: Claim tax relief for your job expenses for information on how to claim.
A date has been agreed to start pay negotiations for Ground staff and RTS/TS Grades, 15 June. TSSA will be seeking a substantial increase to your basic pay and all allowances. Given the positive business update last week, I am hopeful that a settlement can be achieved.
Mental health and Wellbeing
TSSA H&S reps will be issuing a survey for members to complete on how they feel at work in terms of their workloads, health and wellbeing, stress levels and their work/life balance. We shall issue surveys to each grade group, but they will be staggered. The first group to receive them will be Control. I would encourage you all to complete the survey but most importantly, be honest. We shall share the results of the survey with you and advise of next steps and how we will tackle issues that are raised with the Company for resolutions.
Finally, I want to say thank you to each of you for your hard work and commitment over what has been a very difficult year, and a big well done for your contribution through-out this pandemic. I know some of you have had your own struggles, but you have continued to show strength.
If we work together and talk to each other and grow our membership in DB Cargo we will make positive changes and improve working lives. If you know a colleague who is not yet a TSSA member, ask them to join, they can do this on-line very easily. Strength is power and only by collectiveness can you make/force change.
Please make sure you raise any issues big or small with your staff reps, you can contact any rep for your grade regardless of where you are based.