18 June 2015
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that the balloting of over 200 engineering grade members on Southern Rail’s train operations for industrial action over a comprehensive breakdown in industrial relations with the company is now underway. The ballot will close on 2nd July.
This dispute is about:
1. Reducing the working week to 35 hours.
2. Management Imposing rosters
3. The Lean project
4. PTR&R Agreement.
In the 2013 pay settlement, management agreed to have a working group of RMT reps and managers to find productivity measures that could bring in a reduction in the working week. This group could not find any way to bring in a 35-hour week with no extra cost to the company. However, Management agreed to keep looking for ways bring forward a schedule of reductions in the working week.
Subsequently, through the LEAN project, management has brought in productivity measures in the engineering department. But they have never offered to use this productivity to pay for a cut in the working week. This flies in the face of the assurances that have been given to the union .
Management has also decided to impose a new roster without the agreement of RMT reps. The new roster cuts Rest Days and increases night turns. It gets more productivity from engineers without any reward.
On top of that there is the Promotion, Transfer, Redundancy, and Resettlement (PTR&R) Agreement. This has been in place since the days of British Rail. It is an important part of RMT members conditions, because it protects their rights if a depot is closed or there are job cuts. Management now claim that staff are no longer covered by it. The union disputes this position which seriously undermines our members employment rights.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT will not stand by while agreed policies, procedures and agreements are unilaterally ripped up by Southern and promises on the reduction in the working week are kicked aside despite increases in productivity through the LEAN project. As a result we are now in dispute and have begun balloting of our engineering grades for industrial action.
“In all of this, management have failed to show our members the respect they deserve as skilled and dedicated workers. We have made every effort to talk to the company about these issues, but have got nowhere. The only option we have is to use industrial action.
“Southern is a company intensively under the spotlight over its performance at the moment and RMT will not have our members left unrewarded as they hit work targets and then face a barrage of attacks on working conditions and procedures. RMT remains available for talks.”