GWR: Pay talks Postponed!

Despite making your expectations clear to the company and submitting your TSSA pay claim in January, no meaningful response has been received.

We have had one company council meeting this year (24 March). This is the forum where we normally discuss your pay claim. In advance of that meeting the company advised that they wouldn’t have authority from the Dft to negotiate pay. A date was arranged with the Full Time Officers (FTO’s) of the respective trade unions for pay talks on 4 May. When asked if the full company council would be present for those talks, no meaningful response was received from GWR and the invite remained open to just the FTO’s.

On 8 April your General Secretary Manuel Cortes wrote to GWR asking:

“With regards to pay claims you have received from TSSA and any forthcoming, I am seeking your clear assurances that:

• pay increases negotiated between my union and your company in 2022 will be no less than the appropriate RPI measure of inflation.

• there will be no changes to the terms and conditions of my members during 2022 without the agreement of my union; and

• there will be no compulsory redundancies involving members of my union in 2022.

I am asking for these assurances to be agreed in writing by no later than Tuesday 19 April 2022. If these assurances are not forthcoming, then TSSA will consider itself to be in dispute with your company.” (RPI = Retail Prices Index).

On 21 April, after the deadline GWR chose to respond by stating:

“As you will be aware, GWR is currently holding discussions with your representatives through the usual pay negotiation Company council forum.

In relation to the other matters raised, GWR has always, and will continue, to follow the agreed collective bargaining process and procedures; should there ever be a need to do so.” This response does not adequately represent the truth of the position at the time where the company was unable to negotiate pay at company council and was only inviting the FTO’s to the planned pay meeting on 4 May, not the full company council!

On Thursday 28 April the FTO’s met with the Exec team to discuss a “living with covid” document and it was clear that regardless of the feedback given GWR were going to issue their planned communications, regardless of the concerns raised! They also updated the FTO’s to say that they would be postponing the pay talks meeting as they still didn’t have authority to negotiate pay, when asked for an alternative meeting date they advised they would wait until they had authority! 

This was in a week where Mark Hopwood had address staff in an all colleague zoom meeting and the takeaway from reps and members on this is that he was essentially saying you are lucky to have a job and not to have been furloughed! Small comfort indeed to those who worked hard and put their lives at risk as key workers ensuring that the railways ran over the course of the pandemic! Clearly this rhetoric, holds no weight!

Some of Mark’s language appears to be deliberately misleading when he stated:

“I would never commit to a no compulsory redundancy agreement indefinitely. No business would”, to clarify normally TSSA asks for no compulsory redundancy deals to last for the span of the agreement, just like for instance in MTR that have awarded a 1 year deal for 8.2% with no compulsory redundancy for the life of that agreement! You can read for yourself the text of Manuel’s letter above which is certainly not asking for anything indefinitely!

Mark’s piece in connect states “but be assured that we have started to engage with Trades Unions on a 2022 pay review.” This Fails to state that thus far any engagement has failed to be meaningful in that we haven’t even had an opportunity to talk over the pay claim that we have submitted and there have been no pay offers tabled by the company, now with no meeting dates the situation looks bleak and the picture painted by the company to staff is misrepresentative at best!

 Your FTO and reps have feedback from members that Mark came across as out of touch and unfeeling during the colleague presentation and received criticism during the meeting for being unwilling to look directly at the camera. Comparisons have been made that as someone on a 6-figure salary he could have come across with a lot more compassion seeking to consider those in far less privileged situations to his own!

For context, non Dft controlled TOC’s have been able to make pay awards:

  • Transport for Wales recently settled it’s 2021 pay award for all grades giving them an RPI based 3.3.% pay deal
  • MTR awarded a 1 year pay and no compulsory redundancy deal for 2022 of 8.2% based on February RPI for an April anniversary date
  • Merseyrail recently offered it’s Drivers 7.1% based on Novembers RPI for a January Anniversary date

These are unprecedented times and the unanimous feedback from your representatives that have been canvassed is that they are prepared to be balloted for industrial action when ready and necessary. TSSA believes in talks to resolve our current dispute with the company, and we will continue to seek to get the company around the table and offer a meaningful Pay offer with protections, but we must be prepared for all eventualities and consider that we may need to escalate our dispute at some point.

So please help us prepare by: