Our Ref: HC/14/2

2nd November 2017

Dear Colleague,


I am writing in relation to the above matter and further to my previous letter dated 13th October 2017 in which I advised you that we had written to GWR and the ORR raising the following safety concerns:-

1.    No agreed dispatch method statement.
2.    Risk assessments have not been completed for all locations.
3.    No training for dispatch of new rolling stock.
4.    No staff familiarisation.
5.    Competence teams have not deemed any staff competent in dispatch of new rolling stock.
6.    No method for operation of disabled ramps or assisting disabled passenger access.

Additionally, I reminded you all of your individual responsibilities for safe working practices and of your responsibilities under the refusal to work policy and the union’s position should you encounter a work practice that you believe to be unsafe. As a way of reminder, you and your colleagues are advised to review the RMT advice on ‘the refusal to work’ on the grounds of health and safety should you be asked to carry out unsafe work or safety critical work that you have not been deemed competent in. The advice from the union can be found at the following link:-

A meeting with the company has recently taken place where GWR apologised for bypassing the machinery of negotiation and acknowledged that the handbook and briefing approach they had taken to preparing you and your colleagues for working safely with IET trains was inadequate. At the latest meeting management recently gave assurances that a new approach to training station grades would include:-

1.    Proper 45-minute briefing sessions.
2.    Video instruction on ramp and disabled access.
3.    Familiarisation including ramp training and dummy dispatch beginning with station grades from Weston Super Mare and Taunton.

Also, the company informed us that the following dates for the introduction of IET trains into service are as follows:-

•    Monday 13th November 2017
•    Saturday 16th December 2017
•    Tuesday 2nd January 2018
However, the union’s National Executive Committee has concerns that suitable method statements for the new IET trains are not fully produced and that risk assessments are only completed for locations dispatching IET trains. Additionally, we note that the company’s explanation that station grades do not need to be deemed competent in dispatching new traction, but, need to be deemed competent in regard to local risk assessments associated with specific traction is a wholly technical point which does not alter the need for our members to be deemed competent, which required local risk assessments to be completed and for a suitable method statement to be agreed.

Therefore, I have asked that the company urgently agree a method statement for the new IET trains. I have also informed the company that we expect the immediate release from dispatch duties for station grades being directed to dispatch IET trains until you and your colleagues have received the above training and are deemed competent in the correct way. Additionally, all station grades required to dispatch IET trains in future have received the above training and are deemed competent in the correct way.

I have also advised Great Western Railway that should any disciplinary action taken against any RMT member involved in any safety or competency incident who has not received the above training and are not deemed competent in the correct way, or, should any RMT member be threatened with disciplinary action, or, be charged with a disciplinary offence for using ‘the refusal to work policy’ an immediate dispute situation will exist between our two organisations and will be met with a ballot for industrial action.

I trust this keeps you fully advised and I will inform you of any further updates when they arise.

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary