Our Ref: BR6/4/4
11th February 2020
FAIR CULTURE INVESTIGATIONS & DISCIPLINARY PROCESS – NETWORK RAIL
Concerns have been raised by your Representatives about the application of the Fair Culture process with a perceived lapse from “Slip/Lapse” to “Reckless Contravention” as the cause. There appears to have been a step change in the application of the Fair Culture where the default position is to invoke disciplinary process against members.
When it was launched Fair Culture was supposed to introduce a progressive rather than punitive system and initially safety incidents were dealt with in a fair and consistent manner over all. Genuine errors were investigated in order to learn from the incident and to identify any underlying cause with disciplinary action being taken against members relatively rare.
The concerns that almost every case of a Fair Culture investigation finding “reckless contravention for personal gain” have been raised and escalated through the negotiating machinery resulting in our lodging a failure to agree on East Midlands Route in August 2019.
In December your National Operational Council Representatives met with Network Rail Management on East Midlands Route with a view to resolving some matters that had been in dispute at Area Council. The single matter that remained unresolved concerned a Fair Culture investigation that decided an incident concerning one of our Signaller members was a Reckless Contravention. The member was disciplined and received a Final Written Warning which was unsuccessfully appealed – despite a clean service record of more than 30 years and the outcome of the incident having been comparably severe as a near exact same case in September 2017 at the same crossing, where the Signaller then received a development action plan.
Network Rail Management are saying that they have dealt with the case correctly and despite our demands to have the action expunged they have refused to do so. The company say that they have been through the Fair Culture process and will not revisit the case – leaving us in a position of disagreement with their stance. Your Representatives believe the punishment given to our member was excessive, particularly given the comparable earlier incident which hadn’t resulted in punitive disciplinary action.
Your National Executive Committee have considered the matter and I have been instructed to prepare a ballot matrix for all Signallers and Shift Signalling Managers at East Midlands Control Centre. A further Avoidance of Dispute meeting will take place with our Regional Organiser and the company and the National Executive Committee will consider the report of the outcome of the meeting before taking any further decision.
I trust this keeps you fully advised on the matter and I will, of course, keep you informed on any further developments.