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TO ALL RMT SIGNALLERS IN SCOTLAND
ROSTERS STIRLING AREA Ė NETWORK RAIL OPERATIONS
As you will be aware, your colleagues in the Stirling area have over many months been taking strike action in a campaign to achieve 12 hour rosters. This is what the vast majority of signallers want but the company continue to refuse our membersí demands. Lately the union has been holding meetings in several areas in order to gauge the view of the membership concerning a potential Scotland-Wide Campaign on this issue. I feel it would be useful to give members an outline of the origins of our dispute in Stirling so you can see how this came about.
In early 2012, the Stirling LLC requested a formal meeting with their Local Operations Manager, in accordance with the procedures laid out in our national agreement, to pursue a roster change. At this meeting our representatives were advised that this proposal was refused despite at least 50% of the area already working to 12 hour rosters. A Failure to Agree was lodged and the matter was referred to the Area Council. Our Area Council reps met with our local reps who revealed that 99% of signallers in that area want 12 hour rosters.
At the next Area Council meeting, our area reps were astonished to be told by the General Manager and Operations Manager that they believed no signallers in the Stirling area wanted a 12hour roster. Despite repeatedly telling the company of the strength of feeling of our members, and the companyís refusal to accept this, we had no choice but to raise another failure to agree. As per our procedures, this was then referred to the Regional Organiser to deal with at route level under avoidance of disputes. This meeting resulted in an agreement with the company that a referendum would be conducted of all Stirling Signallers on whether or not they wanted 12 hour rosters. We were clearly told by the senior manager at the meeting that should a majority of members vote for a 12 hour roster, then this would be agreed.
When our members voted 19 to 1 in favour of a 12 hour roster, you would assume that would have been the end of the matter and there would have been no need for further discussion. However once the result had been declared and we tried to arrange a local meeting discuss a 12 hour roster, the managers claimed to know nothing about the agreement we had reached at the Avoidance of Disputes meeting. At this point another failure to agree was lodged and the matter went back again to the Area council. We protested at the Area Council meeting that the company had reneged on the agreement reached at the Avoidance of Dispute level but they refuse to acknowledge this and were adamant they would not agree a 12 hour roster on the basis of cost. Once again this went to avoidance of disputes level and eventually ACAS became involved to try to resolve the dispute. Talks have continued to fail because of a number of assumptions the company has been making on cost which the union totally refutes. On various occasions we have drastically reduced their estimates and still believe their figures are too high. At the root of this dispute is a duplicitous management who on one day agree to abide by the democratic wishes of their staff but on the other, when they donít get the result they hoped for, they conveniently forget their promises.
Management are in no doubt of the determination of our Stirling members who have taken part in strike action over many days with more planned over the Christmas period, with little sign of movement from management despite considerable efforts on the part of our reps. I hope the above brief history gives you a good idea of how we have reached this impasse.
The local meetings of which you have previously been notified have now take place and the view of members across Scotland will shortly be considered by your unionís executive committee. I shall be sure to keep members informed of developments.