Head Office Circular: NP/266/20
Our Ref: HSR/1/3
02nd November 2020
ALL REGIONAL COUNCILS
GREATER ANGLIA: CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – PROPOSED RESUMPTION OF ON-BOARD CUSTOMER SERVICES
The Regional Organiser for Greater Anglia (GA) has been in discussions since July 2020 with the company concerning the resumption of on-board customer service duties. Our representatives are concerned that the company didn’t seem to be willing to put measures in place to ensure our members would be protected if/when the proposal was reintroduced.
The new fleet of Stadler trains that have been introduced on GA make social distancing hard to achieve. GA have not been willing to accept the proposals our representatives made to make travel more safe for our members. The main bone of contention is GA not being willing to block out aisle seats.
With the large proportion of GA’s services being classified as travelling on commuter routes, social distancing is a major stumbling block for a safe return to On-Board Customer Services duties for our members, particularly in respect of returning to full Revenue Duties, for our Conductor and Revenue Protection members. Similarly, for our Catering members, a number of issues were presented and in the main addressed during discussions.
During ‘Lockdown’ along with the period of time during ‘Opening-Up’ to the present time, our GA Conductor and Revenue Protection members have not been performing their full revenue duties, and as with other TOC’s this group of staff have been supporting Gateline and Station Staff.
GA has been vigorously pushing for our Conductor and Revenue Protection members to return to full Revenue/Commercial duties, with them feeling they had met all the challenges in respect of them providing a safe working environment for members who work on trains. As far as representatives are concerned, this is not the situation, and they have continually made their concerns known to GA management, particularly in respect of there not being agreement in respect of the Risk Assessments (R/A) for all of the disciplines concerned.
Management have produced Safe System of Work (SSOW) documents out of the R/A’s which they presented and discussed with representatives, albeit they were not fully agreed, owing to the fact it wasn’t felt all mitigations to combat Covid-19 were put in place by GA to alleviate members and representatives concerns.
In recent weeks, ‘Live Trials’ have been taking place at depots where we have Revenue and Conductor members, and these were undertaken with members who volunteered to take part in the trial. Taking account of this, representatives were willing to move on this situation, if GA would be prepared to accept members had the right to undertake Revenue/Commercial duties on a voluntary basis, in other words, if the members felt safe and ultimately comfortable in undertaking these tasks. Noting this, representatives requested this caveat to be included in the SSOW and R/A’s, but unfortunately GA have not been willing to include this word in these documents.
Our representatives report that in the region of 70% of members are not willing to undertake full revenue duties, and it is for this reason representatives are not willing to ‘sign off’ on this proposal without it being introduced on a voluntary basis.
Acknowledging all of the above our GA Company Council representatives have advised me they are not willing to accept these documents in their present guise, but, if GA was willing to accept our members have the right to undertake these duties on a voluntary basis, and include this in the SSOW and R/A, they will be willing to reconsider their current position, as outlined above. Representatives felt the need that other TOC’s are willing to accept their move to a resumption to On-Board duties, contains the acceptance that members return on a voluntary basis, and cannot understand why GA will not accept this position.
On considering this report the National Executive Committee noted and adopted the following report of their Health and Safety Sub-committee:
We note the report from the Regional Organiser and thank him for his efforts in resolving matters with the company. The General Secretary is instructed to write to the company agreeing that RMT will be willing to reconsider its current position on the recommencement of on-board customer services ONLY IF our members have the right to undertake these duties on a voluntary basis, and include this in the SSOW and R/A.
Any updates to be placed back before this NEC.
Branches and Regional Councils to be advised.
I am acting in accordance with these instructions and will keep you updated on developments in this regard.