Southeastern Trains Direct Award

Head Office Circular No. NP/120/14

To the Secretary all Branches,
Council of Executive members,
Regional Councils and Regional Offices.

Tuesday 8th July 2014

Dear Colleagues,

Southeastern Trains Direct Award

Following discussions with the company, both the lead officer and relief regional organiser for Southeastern Trains have submitted reports which have now been considered by the General Grades Committee.

The GGC adopted the following report of its’ Train Crew Sub-Committee:

“That we note the reports on file from both our lead officer dated 21st May 2014 and relief regional organiser dated 12th May 2014 arising from a meeting held with the Department for Transport (DFT) on Wednesday 23rd April 2014.

The meeting was as a result of the DFT decision to make a direct award to run the franchise until June 2018 as a minimum timescale.  It is important to note that the DFT confirmed at the meeting that it informed South Eastern that there is no change in its service requirements as this decision hence it not being subject to the normal franchise bidding process.

This General Grades Committee reiterates its complete and unequivocal opposition to any form of privatisation and our determination to continue to campaign to ensure that all railway operations return to public ownership.  We however welcome the DFT statement that there should be no change to service requirements and as such this General Grades Committee is clear in its view that under no circumstances should our South Eastern members face any detriment to either their conditions of employment or job security as a result of this decision.

This General Grades Committee however remains deeply concerned that each franchise renewal process brings with it renewed fears for our members jobs, safety concerns and a reduced service for the travelling public.  These renewals are in the view of this General Grades Committee an opportunity simply for train operating companies to implement the McNulty rail review proposal all in the name of profit on the part of the privateers.

It is imperative that as a union we develop a strategy in addition to nationally on a franchise by franchise basis to ensure that our members are fully aware of the potential threats and the necessity to be prepared to resist any attempts to further undermine job security.  

We note the following outcomes from the DFT meeting:
Driver Only Operation (DOO)
RMT stated its opposition to DOO and any proposed extension to this unsafe method of working.  In response the DFT stated that they have not requested any extension of DOO in this direct award and that any decision around this was a matter for the train operating company.

Agency and Contractor Workers  
RMT stated its policy that all agency and contractor workers should be brought back ‘in house’ with the London living wage/living wage paid as a minimum rate even if direct employment is now achievable.  In response the DFT stated that employment matters were a responsibility of the train operating company.

In light of the outcomes of the said meeting we instruct the General Secretary to undertake the following:
•    Produce a special South Eastern newsletter highlighting the developments from the DFT meeting and the demands of this union to protect our members jobs and conditions with suitable other propaganda also to be produced
•    Raise with our RMT parliamentary group the matter of franchising with a view to seeking a formal clarification from the government on the roles and responsibilities of both the DFT and train operating companies under such arrangements.

We further instruct the General Secretary to write to South Eastern Trains demanding by no later than 15th July 2014 a written assurance on the following:
•    That there will be no further extension of DOO on any area of the South Eastern franchise and that all existing agreements pertinent to Conductors will remain for the duration of the direct award.  The letter to make the position clear that a failure to agree to these reasonable requests will result in a dispute situation existing between our respective organisations
•    A commitment or timetable to bring all agency and contractor workers brought ‘in house’ with the payment of London living wage/living wage paid as a minimum rate in the interim
•    We refer this matter to our national sub-committee for further examination and report

I am currently carrying out the decision and will keep you advised of developments.

Yours sincerely,

Mick Cash
Acting General Secretary