Rail union RMT has confirmed that just a week after First Group secured a multi-million pound, two year roll-over of its Great Western franchise there is to be an industrial action ballot across all grades.
For months RMT has been in dispute on a range of issues impacting on First Great Western members including:
• a disproportionately high number of unfair dismissals
• abuse of the disciplinary procedures across the franchise as a means of bullying staff
• the breakdown in industrial relations for Engineering, Station & Ticket Office grades
• casualisation and the continued use of agency staff
• a range of associated matters where First Great Western are treating staff abysmally
As a result of the failure to reach any sort of agreement due to management intransigence, RMT’s executive has taken the decisions to link the combination of issues together and ballot all FGW members for industrial action. That ballot is now in preparation and the timetable will be announced in due course.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“RMT FGW members have had enough of being kicked from pillar to post and management should be under no illusion that unless a satisfactory agreement is reached on all of these issues the union will continue with a campaign of industrial and political action until such time as the collapse in industrial relations is resolved.
“With First securing a highly lucrative extension to their Great Western contract last week there is no excuse for them to blame the failure to reach agreement on the uncertainty over the franchise. It is also clear as day that they have the money available now to employ adequate numbers of permanent staff and to treat them with dignity and respect in every workplace.
“Despite the award of the franchise extension, and despite the best efforts of RMT’s negotiators, there had been a further deterioration of industrial relations between RMT and First Great Western and the stack of issues we have identified amount to a catalogue of contempt that the company is clearly displaying for its most important asset – its staff.”