3 June 2015
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that it will shortly begin balloting over 200 engineering grade members on Southern Rail’s train operations for industrial action over a comprehensive breakdown in industrial relations with the company.
For some considerable time RMT Engineering Grade representatives at Southern have been raising concerns over a number of issues our members are experiencing difficulties with. Our local representatives at Selhurst depot had been involved in lengthy discussions with management to agree a new roster for our Engineering Grade members. However, management ignored the wishes of our members and unilaterally imposed a new roster making a mockery of the negotiating process and agreed procedures.
Southern have also recently initiated a project called LEAN, which prescribes the time RMT members should take on each specific job. It is the view of union representatives at Southern that the LEAN project has been brought in by consultants who have been surveying working practices at the engineering depots. Once again, Southern unilaterally introduced the LEAN project without any consultation taking place. RMT members have reported that the LEAN project is putting our Engineering Grade members under extreme pressure to work faster to meet the set times for specific tasks. The union has been advised by several members that the times to complete tasks under the LEAN project are too demanding and that managements approach to the implantation of the project is both intimidatory and aggressive.
In addition to the above, the union has been seeking a commitment from Southern to reduce the working week from 39 hours to 35 hours for the Engineering Grade members. Even though projects such as LEAN are ostensibly an exercise to improve productivity, Southern has refused take the union’s submission for a shorter working week seriously. The RMT executive has considered the reports from the reps and is of the clear view that the company has ripped up agreements, procedures and policies and as a result the union is now in dispute with Southern and has begun to prepare a ballot for industrial action of our Engineering Grade members.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT will not stand by while agreed policies, procedures and agreements are unilaterally ripped up by Southern and as a result we are now in dispute and will shortly begin a ballot of our engineering grades for industrial action.
“Southern is a company intensively under the spotlight over its performance at the moment and RMT will not have our members scapegoated for failures at the top by outrageous and intimidatory demands to meet impossible work targets and through attacks on working conditions. The union is in no doubt that the pressure on these staff to deliver impossible targets compromises safety in what is clearly a safety-critical environment.
“RMT remains available for talks.”