Head Office Circular: NP/318/20
Our Ref: HSR/1/3
23rd December 2020
ALL REGIONAL COUNCILS
GREATER ANGLIA: CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – PROPOSED RESUMPTION OF ON-BOARD CUSTOMER SERVICES – IMPORTANT UPDATE
Further to Circular NP/297/20, dated 1st December, I am writing to advise you that the Greater Anglia management, instead of sitting down and negotiating with your union has decide to use the anti-trade union laws to challenge our ballot.
As you know the ballot was due to commence today and the action short of strike was for Conductors & Senior Conductors to refuse to undertake on board revenue duties or on station Revenue duties, RPIs to refuse to undertake on board commercial duties and for Customer Service Hosts (buffet) to refuse the working of on board trolley duties.
It was management’s contention that this would mean most conductors and all PRIs and Customer Service Hosts would cease to perform most or all of their duties. They contended that this constituted strike action and therefore our ballot paper, which they legally have to have sight of prior to the ballot, was unlawful. Sadly, this contention is correct.
The challenge was considered by your National Executive Committee (NEC) who have carried the following resolution:
That we note the latest communication from the company dated 22nd December 2020 that challenges the legality of our ballot notice under the term “Action Short of Strike Action” and that this may have a detrimental affect on the validity of our ballot and any action taken going forward.
We further note the fact that under the current worsening situation of the national Coronavirus pandemic and the impact this has had on our Greater Anglia on board members, this may also change the status of our dispute going forward. With this in mind we instruct the General Secretary to suspend the balloting process and to seek a report from the Lead Officer on this matter. The General Secretary is also instructed to convene a meeting of our Local/Company Council reps concerned, the National Executive Committee and the Senior Assistant General Secretary and to invite the RMT South East Essex Branch Secretary to this meeting.
Further we instruct the General Secretary to seek a legal opinion on the strength of the company’s challenge against this union and to advise on the wording of any future industrial action ballot for these grades going forward to ensure that we get the correct type of action and the correct grading terminology on the ballot paper.
Further this National Executive Committee (NEC) notes that this challenge from Greater Anglia was received at 14:52 hours on 22nd December 2020 and yet this NEC were not immediately informed and that once again the NEC has been excluded from important communication and meetings around this dispute and as such instructs the General Secretary to ensure that this NEC is copied in to all matters between the Lead Officer and the General Secretary on this dispute and ALL Greater Anglia matters going forward.
The General Secretary is finally instructed to ensure that all Greater Anglia members concerned are to be advised via Text & E-Mail with a thorough update and explanation as to why this action is required.
In carrying out these instructions I have confirmed with Civica that the ballot is suspended, so members will not receive ballot papers at this time.
I will keep you updated on developments in this regard.