Avanti West Coast Contract – DHL – Unsafe Practices during RMT Industrial Action

Our ref: HSR/2/11

Head Office Circular: NP/80/22

25th March 2022

To: The Secretary




Dear Colleague,




I received representations from my members employed by DHL on the Avanti West Coast contract who advised me that management were making contingency plans for delivering supplies to AWC sets at Euston using unsafe methods that had previously been failed by the Health and Safety representative following a formal balanced risk assessment.


I therefore highlighted these unsafe procedures to the relevant bodies and companies ahead of the dispute commencing on 21st December 2021.


The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) replied to me on 15th March 2022, advising me that one of its safety inspectors had looked into the issue. ORR was assured that the work in question had been properly risk assessed and training provided to relevant staff to cover the industrial action. However, ORR’s inspector reviewed the risk assessment and safe system of work and found they required some improvements. This was communicated to DHL and ORR is awaiting a response.


The ORR inspector also found that the risk assessment had not been through consultation with the unions, and that DHL were unaware of a previous failed risk assessment, suggesting that it may have been carried out prior to DHL being contracted to carry out such work.  DHL has now made a commitment to properly consult the unions if they need to use this contingency arrangement in future.


At its meeting on 24th march 2022 your National Executive Committee noted and adopted the following report from its health and Safety Sub-committee:


We note the response from the ORR in this matter.


The General Secretary is instructed to write to Avanti West Coast and DHL pointing out the failings highlighted by the ORR in its response and remind them that union consultation must take place if such contingencies are required in the future, and that failure to consult may lead to a dispute situation and potentially industrial action.


All Branches, Regional Councils and Health and Safety Representatives to be advised.


I am acting in accordance with this instruction and will keep members appraised of any further developments.


Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.


Yours sincerely



Michael Lynch

General Secretary