FURLOUGH ARRANGEMENTS – CORONAVIRUS – FIRST SOUTH WEST

Our Ref B/14/3

16th June 2020

TO ALL MEMBERS AT FIRST SOUTH WEST

Dear colleagues

FURLOUGH ARRANGEMENTS – CORONAVIRUS – FIRST SOUTH WEST

I write to advise you that RMT has been in discussions with First South West over their plans for furloughing staff during this extraordinarily difficult time. A document was produced which stated that furloughed staff would only be paid 80% of their basic wage without overtime or other supplements used as part of the calculation. Additionally the proposal stated the following in relation to Sick Pay.

“if there is evidence that levels of sickness claims are rising disproportionately, all rates will be reduced to circa the 80% wage protection levels outlined by Government for Furloughed Workers”

Having considered the documents the NEC instructed me to seek legal advice on the sick pay element which has now been received. The NEC has noted the report from the legal department and that the sick pay caveat of the Furlough agreement from the company should only be implemented for the duration of the Government Job Retention Scheme. Therefore the NEC has instructed me to inform the company that we note the proposed Furlough agreement.

In addition a further report has been received from the Lead officer in relation to the company paying those on the Furlough Scheme 80% of their basic salary, with no consideration of average earnings. This will obviously has a serious impact on the income of many members who regularly work overtime and we believe this could be the basis of a claim for the unlawful deduction from wages. The Furlough regulations state that the calculation of the 80% should be based on the higher figure of either your average pay in the 2019-20 tax year or pay in the same month of the previous year.

The union has decided that we will look to pursue a collective legal claim on your behalf on the basis that there is an unlawful deduction from wages as the calculation of your pay has been incorrectly based on basic pay instead of your average pay which includes any overtime or enhancements. In order to take part in the claim each member will need to complete an L2 Application form for Legal assistance. This form can be found on our website using the following link https://bit.ly/3d3FmbX and should be returned to our Bristol office by email to g.barton@rmt.org.uk . Due to the current Coronavirus situation we are unable to send out forms in the post.

Note - There is no need for members to contact ACAS for early conciliation on this occasion because this is a collective claim and that application will be done by our solicitors on behalf of all claimants. In order to progress this as soon as possible I would be grateful if members could complete these forms as soon as possible but ideally within 14 days.

I have written to First Group at a national level advising them that the incorrect calculation that was agreed at that level by another union and protesting that we were excluded from these discussions. As a recognised Union with First Bus Group RMT should be participating in discussions at a national level and have our Lead Officer take part. I have requested an urgent telephone/zoom meeting between the lead officer and their directors, to discuss the issue of the pay calculation as well as his exclusion from these negotiations.

I will keep members informed of developments.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary