Network Rail – Roles and Responsibilities,Safe Work Leader

Our Ref: HSR/2/15
Head Office Circular: NP/076/15
29th April 2015

The Secretary

Dear Colleague

Network Rail – Roles and Responsibilities
Safe Work Leader

Further to Head Office Circular NP/065/15, 9th April 2015 I am writing to advise you of further Decisions and developments with this case.

A meeting was held with Network Rail on 16th April 2015 when our representatives presented the company with our further concerns in this regard. Following this meeting we received information that not only were our concerns valid but in some cases they were if anything understated. As a result of this I wrote to the Chief Executive calling for a halt with the implementation of this programme. Following on from this, a letter outlining the company’s position was received and a meeting was convened with the Assistant General Secretary, the Health and Safety Officer and the GGC.

A report of that meeting was then considered by the GGC who adopted the following Decision:

That we note that a meeting has taken place at Unity House on 28th April 2015 with Network Rail to discuss the implementation of SWL’s (safe work leaders) in the East Midlands area on the 15th May 2015, with our AGS, H&S Officer and GGC Members in attendance.

This GGC notes with concern that Members are expressing concerns about the inconsistencies within the Network Rail training package with Members completing the programme with different understandings about the role and responsibility of SWL’s.

It is further noted that full Teams including all SWL’s will be stood down in the East Midland area during the week commencing Sunday 3rd May for the purpose of participating in live trials prior to the launch of SWL on 15th May 2015 with further consultation taking place in the East Midlands for a period of three days between 30th April and 5th May prior to a further  meeting being arranged with Network Rail on 13th May 2015 at Unity House.

We therefore instruct the General Secretary to seek paid release for our Network Rail H&S Area Council and local Reps to attend all live trials prior to the implementation of SWL and to produce a circular that clearly outlines Network Rail’s programme of briefings and training to be circulated to Branches and Regional Councils.

At the meeting our representatives pushed the company for details of their proposals for the week prior to the Go-live decision being made. The company have committed to the following points:

1.    The completion of briefings to all affected employees to achieve consistency of understanding of the changes.
2.    Conclude meaningful Area Consultation, for which TU support is appreciated.
3.    A number of Stand Down events will take place across East Midlands Area, with the intention of providing opportunity for each SWL and their team to trial the Permit to Work arrangements ahead of live use. Local Safety and IR reps will be released to support and monitor these events.
4.    Setting up weekly local reviews with staff to follow Go-live. This to involve local reps. The availability of coaches to support implementation and facilitate additional feedback. We would expect local reps to also be active in obtaining constructive feedback.

RMT have insisted that these four points become part of the roll-out programme for all Areas/Routes in the future.

The company also committed to a 4 weekly review involving national representation which will take place to review summary feedback from the weekly events and consider any next steps. This review to take place ahead of any further Area/ Route Go – Live decisions.

The company believe that the outputs from these reviews will also provide input to formal PIR process. They indicated a commitment to support individuals who remain uncomfortable with the new arrangements. The company also confirmed that all issues related to the creation and use of permits will be managed in line with the work safe procedure and Fair Culture arrangements.

RMT have made Area consultation on this matter a priority for our representatives in the East Midlands area and I will ensure a report of the Area consultation is placed in front of the GGC.

I am acting in accordance with these instructions. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all members.

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary