Our Ref: BR2/0025
26th September 2016


Dear Colleague,


In my correspondence dated 16th August I advised you that industrial action was suspended – in good faith – to allow what we hoped would be positive discussions on the almost 200 job cuts and subsequent increase in workloads members would have to undertake.

You will recall that the union suspended the planned industrial action, called on the back of your massive show of support against the company`s proposals, proposals that will attack and undermine your terms, conditions and working practices. Our industrial action was suspended after we had forced the company to provide us with several assurances, one of those being that they would provide your Company Council representatives with a full and proper precis for consultation.

The company has now provided us with the précis and your representatives and Lead Officer have studied these. They have also had the opportunity to meet with the company and relay their concerns and questions based around each proposal. We have told the company from the outset that your terms and conditions will not be given away or undermined in any shape or form.

Rather than respond to our concerns and questions, the company has offered only the model response, saying they will take them away and get back to us. We are still awaiting any sort of response to the concerns and questions raised on your behalf. Instead, the company has chosen to proceed full-steam ahead with their planned implementation of the proposals.

A key agreement we made with the company, to allow us to suspend our last industrial action, was that the implementation date of December 2016 would be removed. Yet only this week, the company has put out internal communications to you saying they will implement changes on December 11th, 2016. Additionally on-board service trials will begin as early as October 3rd, 2016.

This is a clear indication that the company are blatantly ignoring your concerns. They have behaved as if your representatives have raised no concerns at all, merely choosing instead to carry on as if their proposals had actually been welcomed.

We have told them in no uncertain terms, that if they believe they will be successful in introducing 95% of their proposals then they are in for one hell of a fight! From the outset of viewing the proposals, it was clear that the vast majority will decimate your terms and conditions and working practices, as they currently stand.

There is a tiny fraction of the proposals which may work around the smaller locations and provide a benefit. Introduction of new technology around travel centres may well see some small beneficial change, yet the company have admitted the technology is not ready until February 2017 at the earliest.

The entire proposals are geared up to reduce the headcount and to introduce dual roles to compensate for the reduction. The company has already stated that there will be no additional monies for any employee unlucky enough to be burdened by extra responsibilities and pressures at work. They want you to do your own current roles and those of your redundant and displaced colleagues for absolutely no gain or benefit to yourselves and you will be expected to work with considerably less staff.

Those locations where staff numbers are already too low in number, where the job is run on your goodwill alone, will be further reduced under the company`s proposals. At some of those same locations, the company intends to strip out ticket barriers that protect you and your colleagues, but also protect revenue. This will lead to further physical and verbal attacks on you and will make the already increased responsibilities and pressures for stations and on-board staff even harder.  There will be major changes to your current rostering patterns, which will have a huge negative impact on your work-life balance.

Redundancies form the backbone of the company`s proposals, whether voluntary or not, a job lost is a job lost, forever! Yet the company want to introduce new apprentice roles and fixed-term contracts into the business, as part of their proposals.

The very idea that these proposals will enhance the customer experience and provide a sound footing on which to move the business forward in a safe and employee friendly environment, is an absolute insult to your intelligence. These proposals are nothing but a vicious, selfish and ill-judged attack on your very livelihoods, intended to claw back the huge financial oversight the company have made, when bidding for the franchise.

It is no secret that the company are underperforming on this franchise. The fastest, most effective way to recoup the additional monies the company had forecast to make is to effectively steal it from their employees behind the mask of necessary progress to a newer, better, more modern way of working.

The company can dress this up however they like, but what this is in layman`s terms is cutting the workforce in vast number, leaving you to carry out the additional duties of your redundant and displaced colleagues, therefore leaving the company with a far cheaper wage bill.
Your union is fully aware that some of you will still enjoy job security and protection should these proposals be implemented. But what of your colleagues? Your friends, your RMT Sisters and Brothers who will be thrown on the scrapheap, tossed aside like a used rag because the company’s greed led to huge blunders with their franchise bid. What if you were one of those destined to be hit the hardest? How would you go home to your families and break that devastating news to them? How would you cope with having to find new employment, before you lost your home and standard of living?

Experience across many years tells us that where companies introduce proposals for change, the first offerings are always the tip of the iceberg. The first raft of change is always designed to be a bit of a tester, to break through the will and determination of the unionised employees.

If the company can achieve that with these initial proposals they will not stop and you will see attack upon attack on everything that currently protects you within the workplace. It will, without a doubt, be your colleagues` jobs today and yours tomorrow! History has taught us that we are far stronger together.

It is absolutely imperative that we fight these rotten attacks together and send a clear message to the company that you will not be made to pay for their mistakes, mistakes made when bidding for this franchise. We have fought off bad employers in the past and we will continue to fight off any current or future employer that seeks to destroy the very terms and conditions that your forefathers have won for you. You are the keepers of those rights and conditions now and your job is to pass them onto the next generation of workers, in a better state than when you inherited them for yourselves. Do not be the generation that sold years of struggle, grit and determination down the river. Stand and fight and let the employer know that you will not be bullied into submission.

Your National Executive Committee having listened to your representatives and negotiators has decided to call strike action. We gave management a four week extension before taking this action but they have cynically refused to take this opportunity to reach a settlement.

Therefore, all VTEC Members (excluding Depot Maintenance Grades) are instructed

Not to book on for any turns of duty commencing between the hours of 00.01 and 23.59 on Monday 3rd October 2016


Yours sincerely,

Mick Cash
General Secretary