Our Ref: B/14/3
17 April 2020
FURLOUGH ARRANGEMENTS – CORONAVIRUS – NOTTINGHAM COMMUNITY TRANSPORT
I am writing with an update since my previous communication to you of 8th April 2020 in which I outlined some very worrying concerns with regard to obtaining information from your employer over its policies on protecting the health and welfare of you and your colleagues and on the frustrations of the company bypassing your union on these matters.
While it is unprecedented times we are going through it remains imperative that employers go through proper and fair procedures and respect agreements that they have with employees’ representatives. However, this has been far from the case with Nottingham Community Transport.
This company has treated your union with contempt and, more importantly, treated its staff with contempt in recent days.
Since I advised you of such difficulties on 8th April, there had been tentative and positive discussions with the Company as it had asked to work with the RMT and dialogue followed in respect of making sure that you can work in a safe environment and also to keep the passengers you serve safe.
Unfortunately, soon after this initial contact, another member of staff (who is also your RMT representative) was admitted into hospital as a confirmed result of COVID-19. Dialogue started again and was positive even though the situation was very serious. The company then took the decision to remove all services and place all staff onto Furlough with immediate effect on 11th April and agreed to open negotiations the following day in regards to how Furlough will operate and also in regards to what safety measures the company would introduce in an attempt to reintroduce services in a safe manner. They asked for the RMT support in achieving this and said that nothing would be introduced until all parties agreed.
The company also articulated its concerns on losing contracts with the local authorities and again asked for our support to achieve this, with your union then contacting the relevant MPs and Councils to assist CT4N in achieving our common objective of keeping the business as a going concern but also for it to run in a safe and reliable way.
Negotiations were cordial considering the recent difficulties and the company continually reiterated its desire work with the RMT, agreeing to produce a document articulating what safety measures it intended to have in place going forward, with your union putting forward the RMT position on the following:
Wages are paid at 100% meaning the employer tops up the government paid 80%
Employers top up wages above £2500pm (the government schemes cap) so that employees continue to receive their full wages)
No impact on pensions or leave
No changes to terms and conditions
That the Furlough Arrangement are time limited and shall not be extended beyond the period of the Covid-19 health crisis.
Employees employed after the 28th to remain employed and receive wages at the same level as Furloughed employees
Employees who are sick due to COVID-19 should receive full pay and not SSP that is currently in place.
The company agreed to take both the industrial and safety matters away and respond in writing the following day, Wednesday, and to recommence discussions again yesterday.
Unfortunately, an email was then received later on Wednesday from the company advising that it would not be producing a document after all, but would like to talk through things the next day.
Just three minutes prior to the call taking place, CT4N sent an email emanating from the Council saying it wished to discuss the contents of this instead, which was certainly not in the spirit of being open and wanting to work with the RMT, considering it had received this email two days prior.
I am disappointed to report that the attitude of the company has now reverted back to how it had previously operated, now informing your union that it makes no difference having the RMT support or not as it will be a commercial matter between CT4N and Nottingham City Council.
Your employer also stated that it has had a bad deal and that its safety measures are better than many other bus operators and would be looking to reintroduce services.
Furthermore, your union was then met with a barrage from the company’s negotiator alluding to the integrity of your Regional Organiser and stating that it would be RMT making people redundant if services are blocked from operating.
With such vitriolic comments being used, your Regional Organiser requested that the company put these remarks in writing, but of course to date nothing has materialised.
It has become quite clear that CT4N is not capable of managing services in this climate and it would be highly unsafe considering the approach it has taken with your union.
I will be writing to the company again demanding that it formally outlines its policies on operating a safe system of working for its staff and for passengers and I shall also be making the relevant authorities aware of your union’s concerns in regards to CT4N’s latest reckless approach.
I make no apologies for the length of this email to you as I wanted to give you and your colleagues the full picture of just what it is we are dealing with when it comes to CT4N. I also know that the concerns I have outlined will be shared by you and your colleagues on the frontline as you are fully aware not receiving the proper levels of safe working methods and wellbeing which the situation demands.
Finally, I know that many members are asking about what to do in terms of the company’s requests for staff to return to work and get its services back up and running again. As the company has not provided information on any health and safety measures they are putting in place, in order to enhance your protection I cannot recommend that you volunteer and nor do I advise you to drive their vehicles.
Your union’s National Executive Committee will be considering this matter again early next week and I will therefore write to you again with the formal position reached in this matter shortly after.