Significant progress has been made in recent meetings aimed at avoiding a dispute over the company’s Modernising Management proposals. TSSA’s main objective throughout the discussions has been to prevent the use of compulsory redundancies as a blunt instrument to achieve the proposed cuts. After many challenging meetings with the company, we have finally made progress to an extent where there is now no reason why the company would need to force anyone out of a job. We have agreed with the company that this resolves the immediate “failure to agree” and we will now proceed to Regional and Functional consultation for the Modernising Management programme.
We believe the significant improvements to the National Principles which have been secured mean that no employee who wishes to stay with Network Rail should be unreasonably restricted from finding a suitable alternative role. Critical to this improvement is the extension of the voluntary severance offering to include “bumping”, improved access to posts currently filled by agency staff, protection from redundancy resulting from external recruitment, and improved commitments on redeployment.
Please see the complete updated National Principles document for full details, but the following are the key improvements secured by TSSA through the avoidance of dispute process:
Extension of Voluntary Severance offering to include “Bumping”
An additional Regional/Functional expression of interest exercise, commonly known as ‘bumping’, will be opened concurrently to enable us to understand where we may be able to backfill employees at risk of redundancy into roles that other employees may wish to vacate under a voluntary severance scheme. The employee must be able to demonstrate they have suitable experience, skills, and qualifications necessary to fulfil the role. Once a suitable replacement candidate from the closed list has been found the volunteer employee will be advised that their VS application has been confirmed subject to conditions being met. This process is referred to in Appendix A, section 2 in the “Managing our People through Change” process. This wider offering of VS will enable many staff who want to leave to go, and in turn provide greater opportunities for those that want to stay.
Improved access to Agency filled posts
Where a team is made up of a mix of agency staff and employees and all have the same job role and employees are all displaced, all the roles including those currently occupied by agency staff will be available on the closed list. Each Region and Function will list their current use of agency staff in the consultation process, with a view to making those roles available wherever possible to maximise opportunities for staff at risk.
Protection from Redundancy resulting from External Recruitment
Where it is the case that recently recruited roles (1 January 2022 onward) are now facing potential redundancy, the Region and Function will justify the reason for this in their consultation documentation. Where this is not justified, employees in these roles may not be served notice of termination. The company has also committed to limit external recruitment to those roles that “cannot reasonably be filled by internal applicants and are essential to the operation of our business.”
Improved commitments on Redeployment
The Regional/Functional Councils will monitor progress via regular updates, for matters such as, how many redeployees vs number of actual vacancies, numbers placed and numbers outstanding and the reasons. The redeployment process will take into account all current and previous skills and includes a clear instruction to hiring managers to refer to the redeployment register as a pre-requisite to filling any permanent, secondment, or agency roles.
The above new commitments, when combined with those already secured in the consultation process, represent a monumental move away from a situation where the company had originally maintained that wide scale compulsory redundancies were inevitable. However, this isn’t the end of the process. We will be holding the Regions and Functions to account to deliver the serious mitigation against redundancy that these National Principles are clearly intended to deliver. If through Regional and Functional consultation we still find employees not being offered suitable alternative roles and being subject to compulsory redundancy, then we may still have to return to a dispute.
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TSSA Network Rail Team