Our Ref: BR2/5/6
2 April 2020
IMPACT OF COVID-19 – GRAND CENTRAL
You should have by now received the devastating news from Grand Central that it is closing down its service with effect from end of business tonight and laying off all but just a few of its 232 members of staff, thus placing you and your colleagues into the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Your union has been in discussions with Grand Central this week and the company stated that it simply could not sustain such a drastic reduction in passenger numbers seen over recent weeks as a result of the current pandemic and continue to run its services as normal.
As the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – the Furlough – only applies to those in employment up to 28th February 2020, there are 6 people who have started in the company since who are not eligible to enter into this programme. The company says it is therefore working with the Arriva Group and previous employers to find them alternative work or reengage them and is hopeful that it will be able to accommodate some of them into Cross Country, likewise the RMT is in contact with our members’ former employers and Cross Country. The company have agreed that further talks will take place with the Trade Unions if the above is not successful. The RMT will do everything within our power to ensure that no individual is made unemployed form Grand Central as a result of this crisis.
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. Your union representatives argued strongly that the Arriva Group could easily afford to top up wages and ensure that no member of staff suffers any detriment financially or otherwise. Unfortunately, the company was not willing to change its stance and this means that you will now only be receiving 80% of your salary (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month) until 31st May 2020, when the government reviews the national situation and when Grand Central say it will also reassess the situation.
The company are issuing individual letters today that will detail the terms of the Furloughed arrangements, RMT will be in further discussions with Grand Central once these have been received.
I wish, of course, that I was not sending you such a pessimistic message, but, despite the efforts, arguments and pressure of your Regional Organiser and representatives, the company is adamant that this is the only option it has. Be under no doubt, however, that your union will continue to fight for our members’ rights throughout this process.
The efforts of you and your colleagues to continue running the service up to now has been magnificent and shows the dedication RMT members have for their jobs and providing a public service. Such efforts will be highlighted when RMT continues the campaign to bring railway services into public ownership for good and not just at times of a national emergency.