Our Ref: BR2/14/2
2nd August 2019
BREACH OF THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT – CROSS COUNTRY
Firstly I want to thank you and your colleagues for your solidarity in this dispute. As is expected during disputes employers will do all they can to muddy the waters and try to undermine the union. Cross Country are no different.
Many of you will have seen the correspondence sent by Cross Country to staff where they make the false claims that our reasons for calling action in this dispute are “unclear”. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the outset there have been three clear elements which were sent to the company in writing and have consistently been the subject of discussions with your negotiating team. They are as follows: -
1. Breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by imposition of a fundamental change to the Flexible working policy.
The Company changed its process last year for submitting an application under the agreed flexible working policy. This was been done without any negotiation or consultation with RMT. Currently when an individual submits an application, a meeting is arranged with their manager and the individual has the option of having their Trade Union Representative to attend to put their case forward, the manager then has authority to make that decision, if the application is not successful then the individual has the right to appeal to a senior manager.
The new process, which was imposed without consultation or agreement with RMT, saw the introduction of a panel to make decisions for all applications. In this new process the individual still applies the process described above but the manager is not allowed to make any decision. Instead this is referred to the panel to make this decision which comprises of senior management at director level. The individual or their representative is not allowed to address the panel to submit their case.
This has resulted in the vast majority of applications being declined. When the individual appeals against the decision it goes back to the very same panel who made the decision in the first place. The company has flatly refused to withdraw the new practice or enter negotiations to introduce the panel which resulted in a failure to agree. This was an unacceptable situation which led to this being included in our current dispute.
2. Breach to the Collective Bargaining Agreement by refusal to recognise RMT to represent Driver Grades
We recently entered into a trade dispute with Cross Country for our Driver members along with ASLEF over an abuse of the disciplinary procedures for Drivers. This resulted in an avoidance of dispute meeting being arranged but the Company and ASLEF refused to allow the RMT to attend the meeting as they stated that we are not a recognised Trade Union for Driver Grades. This is in breach of the Collective Bargaining agreement which is clear that we are a recognised Trade Union for all Grades contained within the Agreement.
Two avoidance of dispute meetings have been held on this matter where the company made the bizarre and illogical statement that are entitled to put RMT members forward as Representatives and only if elected they would be recognised. However as a Trade Union we are still not recognised. We gave an example if a member of another union say GMB were to be nominated and stand as a rep, would the company recognise GMB. They said in those circumstances they wouldn’t recognise GMB as they aren’t recognised in the bargaining procedures. They clearly just don’t want RMT representing Drivers.
3. Breach to the Collective Bargaining Agreement by Negotiating Changes to Companywide Disciplinary Procedures without the involvement of the RMT
This relates to the Avoidance of Dispute meeting referred to above, where the RMT were refused entry. The Company agreed a change to the Disciplinary Procedure for Driver Grades with ASLEF alone. The change means that when any member of staff is facing a potential charge of Gross misconduct, the matter must first be discussed with the Full-time official of their Trade Union. Currently the company only have to do this if the individual is a Representative of a Trade Union.
As the Disciplinary procedure is companywide, any changes to this should be negotiated through the full Council with all Trade Unions in attendance. The company and ASLEF have no right or ability to negotiate changes in isolation to apply to only one group of grades. This was made absolutely clear to the Company and they initially agreed to arrange a full council meeting to negotiate this change with all Trade Unions and the outcome would then apply to all grades contained within the Bargaining Agreement. We were subsequently informed that the meeting wouldn’t happen and that they were sticking with the agreement with ASLEF alone.
This dispute is pretty simple and clear. Management have been holding negotiations outside the collective bargaining agreement and imposing changes to companywide agreements without the involvement of the RMT. This is unacceptable. Cross Country have done little to address our concerns to resolve this matter and continue to try to undermine your recognised Trade Union at every turn. We cannot and will not allow this to continue so we have little choice but to call all Cross Country members to take the following industrial action.
• Not to work any rest-days or non-contractual overtime from 23:59 Hours on Thursday 1 August 2019 until 23:59 Hours on Tuesday 6th August 2019.
I urge you and your colleagues to stand firm and united during this action and send a clear message that they must deal properly and meaningfully with your trade union.
UNITY IS STRENGTH