Our Ref: BR4/14/3

21 May 2020

Dear colleague


It was with some surprise and concern that your union learned of Alstom’s intention to put staff working on its Avanti West Coast contract into the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with effect from Monday of this week.

Your union only heard of this proposed move a day previously and not from Alstom itself, but from a third party. We may be in a period of national crisis and health emergency, but it is still the responsibility of companies such as Alstom to honour agreements it has with your union and to consult and negotiate should it seek to alter working arrangements such as it is doing here.

Furloughing staff is also strange when considering that Alstom will see no change to the contract it secured from the Department for Transport to provide maintenance and up keep of the WC rolling stock fleet and their respective depots. This contract runs until 2026 and, despite the Coronavirus crisis, there is no change expected to be made to this contract.

This move from Alstom also does not make sense when considering that this is a time when all Train Operating Companies, including Avanti West Coast, are looking to ramp up services and, just like AWC, need repairs, maintenance and other duties carrying out. In fact, RMT members at Avanti West coast have raised concerns that Alstom mobile fitters will not be on hand to make running adjustments or repairs to the carriage temperature or toilet malfunctions amongst other things, which could lead to a rapid increase in customer complaints together with the potential increase in both verbal and/or physical assaults on frontline members of staff.

This is wholly unacceptable to Avanti WC staff and to you and your colleagues employed directly by Alstom UK as it would seem that Alstom’s ultimate aim is to obtain compensation by way of further payments from the UK Treasury, towards a French owned company at the expense of the UK tax payer, whilst treating their employees and their recognised Trade Unions with the utmost contempt.

As a result of these concerns, your National Executive Committee has instructed me to write to Transport Secretary Grant Schaaps outling these concerns and requesting government intervention in the matter.

Further discussions are taking place between your union and Alstom over this matter before the end of this week and I therefore expect to be able to provide you with an update in due course.

I trust, for now, this keeps you fully advised of the situation.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary