Our ref: HSR/4/5
Head Office Circular: NP/252/22
10th November 2022
To: The Secretary
SAFETY INCIDENTS CAUSED ON NRHS BY CONTINGENCY STAFF COVERING RMT INDUSTRIAL ACTION
I write to inform you that your National Executive Committee (NEC) was convened on 8th November 2022, to consider a report from its Health and Safety sub-committee, from when it met to discuss a resolution received from Dartford & District Branch which reads as follows:
Dartford & District Branch is concerned that Network Rail High Speed (NHRS) are running trains during RMT industrial action periods. This is carried out by past and present managers, graduates and other NRHS managers and all have insufficient competency for carrying out signalling and electrical controller (Emmis) functions.
This is a risk to the travelling public, staff, and the railway as a whole.
Strike contingency staff are operating under a partial competency as they do not hold full competency required for these roles. These partial competencies have been created to overcome the requirement for established training, assessing, and mentoring to be carried out in accordance with Company Standards. Additionally, there is concern that contingent staff do not hold the requisite medical certificate for the roles.
We believe these deficiencies in due process have been overlooked, as time constraints would not have allowed contingent staff to be fully qualified before industrial action commenced.
A further concern is that even these partial competencies have not been properly trained and assessed in line with group standards, as all aspects are being conducted by the same individuals, who are not qualified trainers for the roles in any event. Moreover, no mentoring has been conducted on live traffic management systems or Emmis workstations, instead, being only partially simulated on a testbed system, within a training room environment, with an extremely limited timetable and lack of real-time scenarios and incidents.
This branch requests the NEC to write to Network Rail High Speed to confirm that training, assessing, and mentoring of contingency staff is being conducted in line with Railway Group Standards and also to seek assurance that Life Saving Rules are not being breached in order to fill operational roles during times of industrial action, and that consequently the safety of the travelling public is not being jeopardised whilst travelling on HS1 infrastructure.
Your NEC, at its meeting on 8th November 2022, noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety sub-committee:
We note the resolution from Dartford & District Branch, for which it is thanked.
The General Secretary is instructed to act in line with the resolution: to write to Network Rail High Speed to confirm that training, assessing and mentoring of contingency staff is being conducted in line with Railway Group Standards and also to seek assurance that Life Saving Rules are not being breached in order to fill operational roles during times of industrial action, and that consequently the safety of the travelling public is not being jeopardised whilst travelling on HS1 infrastructure.
The General Secretary is further instructed to publicise these deficiencies, along with others that have occurred caused by contingency staff during RMT industrial action, which RMT believes is totally unacceptable. The General Secretary is also instructed to continue to raise such incidents with the ORR.
Branches and Regional Councils to be informed.
I am acting in accordance with these instructions.
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.