Our Ref: BR2/1500


22nd November 2018

Dear Colleague,


As you are aware, a mass meeting of our Great Western Railway Divisional Council Representatives, Branch Secretary & Chairs of branches with GWR members, Lead Officer, Senior Assistant General Secretary and the National Executive Committee was held to discuss a number of matters involving GWR. During the aforementioned meeting the proposed restructuring agreement was discussed and analysed. The meeting resolved that a consultation process of you and your colleagues should take place, in order to best inform the union of our member’s aspirations and allow the NEC to provide a recommendation on the proposals.

Following this meeting it was agreed that further discussions should take place with the company at director level to address the following issues:-

• Confirmations of Establishment number for the grade.
• Rostered numbers to work 10, 9 and 5 car 800 IETs to be confirmed.
• Proper safety and risk assessments to be produced for standard class and ATLAS trolleys.
• Lead Host responsibilities, where trains are run in multiple formations over routes with short length platforms regarding safe method of work and host competencies situated in rear 5 portion no safety training/safe system of work.

These discussions have taken place and the company has responded to our points as follows:-

“Re-Structuring Agreement for GWR Catering Grades

Supplementary Issues raised by RMT NEC 19th November 2018

1. Establishment Numbers for December timetable
These have been provided.

2. Risk Assessment of Trolleys and Atlas Carts
GWR will complete joint risk assessments of catering trolleys and Atlas carts.

3. Principles around staffing levels on the IET train
GWR now runs Intercity Express Trains (IETs) in a variety of formations - 5, 9 and 10 car operation. On every train, the catering staffing provision is assessed according to the formation, the route and the time of day which are all factors affecting the loadings on the train and hence the workload for customer hosts. In principle;

• On most services including peak time trains, there will be at least 2 hosts on 5 car trains. Occasionally, on lightly loaded trains, a 5 car IET train service may be planned to convey one member of catering crew.
• On most busy services, and particularly peak services, GWR will provide 3 members of catering crew on a 9 car train. During less busy periods a 9 car IET train will normally be planned to convey at least two members except on a very small number of extremely low loaded off-peak trains which may convey one member of crew.
• On most services including peak time trains, there will be at least four hosts on a 10 car train. During less busy periods this may reduce but there will always at least two members of catering crew planned on these trains..
• Pullman Services will convey a restaurant crew who will work in addition to the crews providing at seat service. On some 10 car trains the Pullman crew will provide the First Class service in the remaining ‘unlaid up’ First Class portion of the train occupied by the restaurant service.

(Currently the average number of hosts per train is 3.71.)

GWR will provide a specification for the service level to be provided on each train in advance of each timetable change and will consult with the On Train Divisional Council on the staffing levels on each train. Staffing levels will be adjusted in conjunction with the OTDC, if the customer loadings, catering revenue or other operating factors determine it to be necessary.

4. Operation of IET trains stopping at short platforms and Lead Customer Host role
GWR understands that the issue here concerns those occasions when an IET service is planned to stop at a short platform of less than 6 coaches in length and which necessitates the guard to be in the front section of the train and thus a Lead Host will be in situ in the rear of the train. GWR agrees that the Lead Host must have the right level of competency to be able to deal with any unplanned event. GWR has proposed that;

• The Lead Host role to be subject to a CMS (Competence Management System) formally applied using the ACMS process.
• This enables any competences to be certificated and assessed with clear requirements for training, initial and ongoing assessment to be documented.
• The level of competence to be provided is agreed with the On Train Divisional Council with respect to ensuring that it both meets the needs of the Lead Hosts and satisfies the Council that it is adequate.
• This may include further training around evacuation and dealing with emergency situations but within the guideline that the Lead Host will almost without exception work in consultation with the Train Manager and/or Driver.
• The competence of the Lead Host should not be developed into a safety critical role and must be maintained as an essentially Catering/Customer Service role.”

The National Executive Committee has considered this matter and noted the company’s response. Whilst the company has attempted to address our concerns it has only met some of our aspirations. It is disappointing that the company has failed to provide a guarantee of no single crewing of catering on-board IET services. Furthermore, the proposed method of operation of IET trains in multiple formations over routes with short length platforms remains an area of concern, which the union intends to closely monitor.

Additionally, negotiations on the proposed restructuring agreement with GWR have now concluded, with the NEC intending to conduct a referendum ballot of you and your colleagues on the agreement. However, as I have previously mentioned above, the mass meeting sought to seek the views of all members before providing any recommendation and to ensure a full consultation process has taken place before a referendum can commence. The NEC believes that once they have received all of your feedback they will be in a better position to provide a recommendation on whether to accept or reject the company’s proposals.

Therefore, to ensure a fair consultation period takes place and to enable you all to have your say on the document, a copy of the proposed restructuring agreement can be found by following this link. The NEC has asked that you discuss your concerns with your local representatives and provide any feedback to them. It would also be beneficial to indicate whether you feel that this offer best represents what you are looking for and whether you feel that it is acceptable or unacceptable.

The union is also preparing special depot surgeries, where representatives will be available to discuss the agreement. Additionally, branches have been asked to arrange special branch meetings for members to attend. The NEC has also asked for branches to provide any feedback from these meetings to better inform any decision going forward. Members are asked to contact their representatives for information on the depot surgeries and are encouraged to attend their branch special meetings.

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

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary