RATES OF PAY AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE 2017 – VIRGIN TRAINS EAST COAST

Our Ref BR2/0001

20th November 2017

TO ALL VTEC MEMBERS

Dear Colleagues

RATES OF PAY AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE 2017 – VIRGIN TRAINS EAST COAST

I write in relation to a number of questions we have received from reps since VTEC decided to ignore the massive rejection of their pay proposals by you and your colleagues in the referendum. They have stated this is their final offer and rather than imposing it, they have offered you an opportunity to opt out of the pay proposals on an individual basis. Last week we sent you all a pro forma to give you a form of words you could submit to reject their proposal if you wish to do so. Having sought legal advice on this matter, RMT is not able to recommend which option you take as it must remain a personal choice whether or not you accept the company’s proposals.

Nevertheless please be assured your union is taking this up as an issue for all VTEC members whether they accept the company’s proposals or not. Our position is that the company have broken with collective bargaining and consequently we are now in dispute with them and are preparing to ballot you all for industrial action. Any agreement at the conclusion of the dispute would be on the basis that it covered all VTEC staff on a collective basis. I therefore urge you all to vote strongly in favour of action in support of your union.

Some of the questions we have received cannot be answered at present as VTEC’s intentions have not been made clear to us over how they would deal with it. I have therefore written to the company seeking these answers and we will advise members once this has been received. There are some that we can answer which are below

1.    If I opt out will this prevent me from taking industrial action if the ballot is successful?

No. We have received legal advice and all members, regardless of whether they have opted in or out of the pay proposals, can be balloted and take industrial action if it were successful.

2.    If I opt out am I opting out of all the pay and conditions and would I lose my pay rise forever?

By opting out of their offer, you would be opting out of the pay and productivity strings as written in their formal offer. We are seeking management’s position on this as the implications are unclear. RMT is balloting members for industrial action and any deal agreed at the conclusion of the dispute would cover all VTEC members whether they opted in or out.

3.    Didn’t Unite win a case against an employer who imposed a pay offer?

Unite did win a case over an imposed pay offer (Unite v Kostal) but the circumstances on VTEC are very different. In Unite’s case the pay increase was imposed at a local level during a referendum. The Employment Appeals Tribunal was very specific in its decision that Kostal should have exhausted the procedures before imposing the award.

VTEC has made it clear that this is their final offer, albeit we don’t agree, and the negotiations were at the final stage of our machinery. Furthermore the offer has not exactly been imposed as they have given individuals the choice to opt out. The circumstances are very different so success in any legal case cannot be relied on.  

RMT’s position is that we are now in dispute with VTEC and will continue to deal with this as a collective issue as the recognised union at VTEC. The NEC has therefore decided to ballot all members at VTEC for industrial action and this will be your opportunity to send clear message to VTEC that you will not tolerate them ignoring the massive rejection of their proposals in the democratic referendum and their bypassing your union.

We are in the process of preparing the ballot which requires us to make sure all the workplaces and job titles of our members are as accurate as possible. I would be grateful if you could ensure your records are up to date as soon as possible so that we can get the ballot up and running. This can be done in the members area of the website or by contacting the union’s helpline on 0800 376 3706 or by email to info@rmt.org.uk

SUPPORT YOUR UNION
VOTE YES FOR ACTION

Yours sincerely
 
Mick Cash
General Secretary