The first stage of discussions aimed at avoiding a dispute over Network Rail’s Modernising Management proposals, and the company’s refusal to remove the unnecessary threat of compulsory redundancies, has now concluded without agreement. Although we have made progress in a number of areas including: the company agreeing to carry out National and Regional/Functional H&S consultation; engage with the ORR; and provide further assurances on external recruitment and the displacement of agency staff, there remains an apparent determination on the part of the company to ensure these measures fall short of what would be required to avoid any need for compulsory redundancies. The key points of disagreement are as follows:
- Contractor/Agency Staff - TSSA believes the 2,000+ contractor/agency staff in management roles should be removed before displacing permanent employees in comparable roles, to minimise uncertainty and disruption for permanent staff. Network Rail say they will only consider removing agency staff once someone is displaced, on the redeployment list, and in the event they are successful in an interview. This forces permanent staff to jump through unnecessary hoops, and gives greater job security to agency staff than permanent staff
- Voluntary Severance - Network Rail refuses to offer Voluntary Severance to anyone other than those at risk of redundancy. We know they declined hundreds of applications for the Special Voluntary Severance Scheme and that a wider offering of Voluntary Severance would be attractive to many staff. TSSA believes it is entirely reasonable and achievable to let those that want to leave go, and in doing so protect the job security of those that want to stay
- Recruitment Freeze - Implementing a recruitment freeze is a basic step when faced with the prospect of redundancies, but Network Rail continues to advertise externally and currently has over 100 jobs on its website. TSSA believes at the very least there should be no external recruitment into roles at risk of redundancy, and that where such recruitment has taken place over the past six months no permanent employee in comparable roles should face the prospect of redundancy
- Closed Listing - Network Rail continues to refuse to implement a wider application of closed listing, instead restricting this to the individual Region or Function. TSSA believes this will seriously limit opportunities for displaced staff to secure a suitable alternative role and will result in unnecessary redundancies taking place in one part of the business while recruitment takes place in another
The avoidance of disputes process will now move to the next level, where we hope to make progress in the above key areas. We’re not asking for anything unreasonable, and much of what we are asking for has been done before. Network Rail is an employer of significant standing and resources, and as such we expect much more than the minimal approach being proposed so far. It is entirely possible to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies and TSSA will not stand by while our members are forced out of a job.
TSSA Network Rail Team
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