My Ref: MRP 1/8/9
4th May 2021
Circular Num: NP/145/2021
To: The Secretary All Branches & Regional Councils
HULL TRAINS SECTION OF THE RAILWAYS PENSION SCHEME 2019 ACTUARIAL VALUATION PROPOSALS
I refer to my previous Circular, NP/133/21, 27th April 2021, our members at Hull Trains should now have received their ballot paper for the above dispute, from the independent scrutineer, Civica. Members’ should be advised if they have not yet done so, they should return their ballot paper to the scrutineer by the closing date of Thursday 20th May 2021.
It is important that our members vote to take industrial action in light of managements “Special Business Update” which was sent to employees last week. In this update the Managing Director of Hull Trains disputed the RMT’s argument to why our members pension scheme should be kept open.
Management commented that their decision to close the Hull Trains Pension Scheme is “absolutely related to the pandemic” which is in response to this unions claim that they are using the pandemic as a way of justifying the closure. We acknowledged at the very beginning of the two meetings before we went into dispute with the company that we recognised the effects on the business. However, we said that as the pension scheme is in a good funding position and closing it was unnecessary.
It is clear from this comment, one which was never stated by the management when we challenged them, that they were using the pandemic as a good time to close the pension scheme and only now are they coming clean that they are using the pandemic to prop up their weak argument.
We also note that finally management have come off the fence when it comes to how they really feel about providing their employees with a decent pension at retirement when they state that the Hull Trains Pension Scheme is an “expensive luxury and one that the Company can no longer afford. You might say, the Company has had to ‘cut its cloth accordingly.” This is an absolute disgrace and one which really shows you how management feel about looking after its employees.
The RPS is a shared cost arrangement where members pay 40% towards any deficit and future service cost and the employer pays 60%. In other words, unlike many other Defined Benefit pension scheme, members’ share the cost it not all put onto the employer. Not once during the discussions with management did, they say that providing their employees with a decent pension at retirement was a “expensive luxury”. It is clear from this statement that closing the Hull Trains Pension Scheme was always on management’s agenda and now is the perfect time to take advantage of their employees despite them sharing the cost of providing a decent level of income in retirement.
Management claim that they are “facing up to a new reality and taking responsible” by closing the scheme. What management are doing is ignoring the reality of the situation in that the Hull Trains Pension Scheme is well funded and are acting totally irresponsible by forcing its employees into position where they have to withdraw their labour to protect their future retirement savings.
The RMT offered management the opportunity to continue to discussions to find a solution to their concerns but they refused claiming we was too late. Our representatives said that they were prepared to consider potential remedies to prevent the closure of the scheme, but management refused saying that the RMT should have raised any possible solutions before the two dispute meetings they had with management. Despite our efforts to continue discussions management point blank refused.
It is Hull Trains management who are putting the business at risk not our members who have done no more than support the business in its hour of need.
Based on the above it is so important that our members send management a clear message that they won’t allow them to get away with this blatant attack on their deferred pay.
I would ask that if there are any Hull Trains members who have not received their ballot paper or if they know of a colleague who has not received theirs, please ask them to email the RMT at email@example.com or contact the RMT Helpline on 0800 376 3706 and a replacement ballot paper will be sent out to your home address first class post.
It is important that our members do not waste their vote and we get a massive return in the ballot for industrial action, so we are not prevented from acting on our members' wishes by the ballot thresholds. Failure to meet these thresholds means industrial action cannot happen, so a high turnout is crucial.
I would urge all members to use their vote. Vote 'YES' for strike action and 'YES' for action short of a strike to force management back to the table to discuss the important issues at the heart of this dispute.
I will, of course, keep you fully advised on any further developments.