Our Ref: BR2/0146
4 October 2019
ROLE OF THE GUARD & INTRODUCTION OF DOO – WEST MIDLANDS TRAINS
As you will no doubt be aware, a dispute situation was declared by your union recently over plans by West Midlands Trains to rip apart the safety critical role of the guard.
It is now abundantly clear that management, despite what Steve Helfet stated in his communication to staff on 25th September 2019 about providing you with “assurances” and “guarantees” over your future role, want to rid you of any responsibility for operating train doors and dispatch of trains – both will solely be done by the driver – or so WMT would wish.
You may recall that your Health & Safety Representatives were tasked by your union to assist in carrying out risk assessments across the WMT network station by station. This was a task they went into in good faith and in a spirit of co-operation and openness. But as I stated in my email to you on 20th September, every question on safety they raised were met with with a silent response or by a set of stock answers. Now, what they have been issued with is a completely unacceptable situation as management have not identified even one station which is suitable for train dispatch. Not only that, but the new stock itself provides no opportunity for the Guard to operate the doors or to carry out dispatch duties.
It is therefore very plain to see that management have treated your representatives with contempt and have shown quite clearly that they were never going to shift from the plans which your union warned our members and the travelling public about many months ago.
The company wishes to see a halt to your union’s balloting process but we know from experience that doing so will just give management further opportunities to confuse and bluster their way through more meaningless trials and discussions. We shall therefore be balloting you and your colleagues at the earliest possible opportunity – in fact, this will be done as soon as our legal obligations are met in carrying out membership checks.
Of course, that is not to say that your union will not make itself available for further talks with the company. But the time to act is fast approaching and we must force West Midlands Trains to come back to us with safe and sensible proposals that recognise the anger that their plans have so far caused.
Thank you for supporting your union in this dispute up to now and look out for your ballot papers in due course.