Our Ref: BR2/14/3
9th April 2020
FURLOUGH ARRANGEMENTS, CORONAVIRUS – GRAND CENTRAL
Firstly, I would like to extend my thoughts to you, your colleagues and your loved ones during this difficult time and hope that you are all keeping safe and well.
Further to my letter of 3rd April 2020, where I had advised you of the devastating news from Grand Central that it is closing down its service and placing you and your colleagues into the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
You may be aware that, unfortunately, we had 6 members who started employment after 28th February 2020, meaning they were not covered by the Government’s furlough scheme. However, the hard and diligent work of our Lead Officer has meant that our 6 members will either find alternative employment or will be paid directly by the company up to the 80% amount in line with those employees covered by the Government scheme. This is a huge relief for our members who would have been at risk of receiving 0% wages due to the nature of the Government scheme.
In regards to the Job Retention Scheme, it is Grand Central's intention to apply the basic provisions within this scheme and will not top up any pay. Unfortunately, the company are not willing to change its stance and this means that you will continue to only be receiving 80% of your salary (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month). The union has raised this with the company and has asked that they immediately top up to cover basic wages. The company’s refusal to do this is based on their claim that as a direct access operator they are not covered by the Rail Industry Coronavirus Joint Forum (RICF), which is only open to franchised Train Operating Companies (TOCs).
The National Executive Committee has considered this matter and has instructed me to raise this issue with the relevant bodies. I will be pointing out the discriminatory and different treatment of open access operators and franchised TOCs. I will be seeking that the RICF scheme and protections are extended to cover the whole of the rail industry and all TOCs.
Furthermore, the union is aware that some Train Operating Companies are heartlessly using the global pandemic to their advantage. The union has noticed some companies are attempting to use the furlough arrangements to make any changes to members’ pay, terms and conditions. This is totally unacceptable and to best protect you and your colleagues the union has produced a pro-forma. Therefore, whilst you would be unable to out-rightly refuse to sign any new contract, we are encouraging members to fill out the pro-forma and attach it any contract you are asked to sign by the company. If you have already signed any agreements, then we would encourage you to also send this pro-forma to your line manager, to best protect your employment and current terms and conditions.
Your union is doing everything and will continue to monitor the situation. Your union will continue to ensure you and your colleagues are protected during this difficult time. I once again extend my thoughts to you and your colleagues during this unprecedented time and hope that you and your families keep safe.