Our Ref: BR2/27/3

24th June 2021

Dear Colleague,


I have received reports from our Guards Company Council and Lead Officer, regarding the use of mobile phones and a change in policy by South Western Railway, without any consultation with your union.

As you are aware, Guards are issued a mobile phone to use and to assist them in carrying out their duties. There has been a long-standing agreement that allowed Guards to use the mobile phones for personal reasons. The agreement also allowed for any bills over £5 to be billed to the Guard, by the company, and for the Guard to pay the balance in full.

I note with alarm that your company has now issued a new IT policy which states, mobile phones can only be used for business reasons. This change has not been consulted with the RMT nor have you and your colleagues been advised that mobile phones cannot be used for personal reasons. This behaviour is reckless as one of our members is now being charged with gross misconduct, despite being unaware of any change to the policy and offering to pay the balance of the bill in full.

The lack of communication from the company is appalling, leaving many members distraught at the situation. The union’s National Executive Committee has considered this matter and has expressed their disappointment that once again, SWR has failed to consult with this union. Therefore, due to the company imposing this policy on you and your colleagues and due to the risk of facing disciplinary action, the NEC is advising members to do the following:

Guards should only use the mobile phones issued by the company for work related reasons. Members should cease using the phones for non-work-related matters and personal reasons, such as using social media sites, web browsing and other personal matters.
Not to take the company mobile phone home and to leave the mobiles securely locked in a depot/work locker.

Additionally, I have written to the company seeking an urgent meeting with our Lead Officer. I have reminded SWR that it is their responsibility to ensure their employees are kept up to date and aware of any policy changes. I have made the company aware that the union are extremely disappointed that SWR has also failed to consult with this union, as these matters should be consulted and negotiated. SWR has also been advised that should our member be dismissed or receive any disciplinary sanctions then a dispute situation will exist between our two organisations.

I trust this keeps you fully advised, and I will write to you again once I have further information.

Yours sincerely

Michael Lynch
General Secretary