RMT ScotRail conductors - Strike action regarding overtime payments

Watershed

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Indeed. It’s an extraordinary and pathetic mentality we have in this country, where people actively resent workers trying to protect themselves, and despise trade unions, often while working copious amounts of unpaid overtime themselves!
There is a massive difference between a private sector business where employees are pulling well beyond their weight and are negotiating for their fair share of the success, and the situation the rail industry currently finds itself in - making enormous losses but temporarily propped up by the taxpayer.

Now is just about the worst time imaginable for any rail union to be demanding more pay. They should be focusing on protecting jobs and conditions wherever possible, not making the industry even more unsustainable than it already is.

For example, looking for ways of making route or traction training easier and quicker - for a number of TOCs this is a substantial problem if current practices continue.

Some people seem to believe the rail industry exists in its own bubble, totally detached from the real world. Perhaps they have been led to believe that by the various governments' attitudes until now.

For the sake of everyone involved, you really have to hope it doesn't take compulsory redundancies for the penny to drop.
 
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the sniper

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Now is just about the worst time imaginable for any rail union to be demanding more pay. They should be focusing on protecting jobs and conditions wherever possible, not making the industry even more unsustainable than it already is.

Personally I doubt it's about the pay, I imagine it's due to there being a discrepancy between the deals offered to the Drivers and Guards. These things usually cause the most ill feeling.
 

Starmill

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Personally I doubt it's about the pay, I imagine it's due to there being a discrepancy between the deals offered to the Drivers and Guards. These things usually cause the most ill feeling.
Drivers are paid differently to conductors anyway, and regularly with quite different other elements of their conditions. I don't see anyone going on strike over that though.
 

LowLevel

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Drivers are paid differently to conductors anyway, and regularly with quite different other elements of their conditions. I don't see anyone going on strike over that though.

In this case though it is because they had enhanced deals all round and chose to bin off the guards' one and keep the drivers'.
 

Starmill

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The industry has had 20 years to sort the sundays out.

We started talking about a train planner and your for example is an MD ?
In general the more senior the people the more likely one would be found to be undertaking unpaid overtime in pursuit of the success of the business rather than simply money.

There is a massive difference between a private sector business where employees are pulling well beyond their weight and are negotiating for their fair share of the success, and the situation the rail industry currently finds itself in - making enormous losses but temporarily propped up by the taxpayer.
Indeed. And in an industry which is so poor at decarbonisation and which hasn't even begun the task of cutting costs that its long term future looks shakier as the months go on.
 

the sniper

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Drivers are paid differently to conductors anyway, and regularly with quite different other elements of their conditions. I don't see anyone going on strike over that though.

Funnily enough, upper management often seem to share that perspective.

This is an industry in which the closest thing to unofficial industrial action I've seen was carried out by a Management grade who got passed over for an incentive deal that train crew (who they supervise) got. Never underestimate the power of perceived unfairness amongst people who work together.
 

Dryce

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In general the more senior the people the more likely one would be found to be undertaking unpaid overtime in pursuit of the success of the business rather than simply money.

Not just senior people.

I've worked for smaller companies for much of my career.

Staff are much closer to basic economics of the business that customers have a choice and that they only pay against milestones - and that without paying customers there's ultimately no job. We always understood the idea that cashflow was important - and that cashflow met our salaries. And if we lost a contract we needed to find a replacement.
 

Watershed

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Indeed. And in an industry which is so poor at decarbonisation and which hasn't even begun the task of cutting costs that its long term future looks shakier as the months go on.
It's notable that the last 10-15 years or so has seen a number of substantial increases in pay. Arguably this happened as a result of high levels of passenger growth, which in turn meant that any industrial action would cause significant losses in revenue, and thus would outweigh the higher wage bill.

To an extent, the short-term thinking of the franchised world also meant that it didn't matter that contemporaneous pay increases would haunt the finances in years to come. That wasn't a problem for today, or the remainder of the franchise.

Now that the industry's fortunes have been reversed, in any commercially dictated world the pay increases of past years would also have to be reversed.

One wonders whether, if no agreement can be made to resolve this industrial action, there will simply be no guarded Scotrail services on Sundays for the foreseeable future?
 

scotraildriver

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It's notable that the last 10-15 years or so has seen a number of substantial increases in pay. Arguably this happened as a result of high levels of passenger growth, which in turn meant that any industrial action would cause significant losses in revenue, and thus would outweigh the higher wage bill.

To an extent, the short-term thinking of the franchised world also meant that it didn't matter that contemporaneous pay increases would haunt the finances in years to come. That wasn't a problem for today, or the remainder of the franchise.

Now that the industry's fortunes have been reversed, in any commercially dictated world the pay increases of past years would also have to be reversed.

One wonders whether, if no agreement can be made to resolve this industrial action, there will simply be no guarded Scotrail services on Sundays for the foreseeable future?
I do wonder, given the very limited revenue currently, if Abellio, Transport Scotland, ScotGov or whoever sees this as a money saving exercise. No guards wage bill for 6 Sundays must be saving a fortune compared to revenue lost. Longer term when passenger numbers pick up may be an issue but I suspect no one is that concerned at present.
 

Bald Rick

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Unfortunately corporate culture in the U.K. is such that people are generally expected to sell their soul to their jobs, and to work considerable amounts of unpaid and unappreciated overtime.

I wouldn’t say it’s expected.

However, I really care about getting people to their places of work, to their choice of leisure destination etc, and will work the hours I need to to give them the best chance of them having a good journey. And I know that most of my ‘management’ colleagues are similarly inclined.
 

LowLevel

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I wouldn’t say it’s expected.

However, I really care about getting people to their places of work, to their choice of leisure destination etc, and will work the hours I need to to give them the best chance of them having a good journey. And I know that most of my ‘management’ colleagues are similarly inclined.

I think to be fair most frontline people are the same - I can book any overtime I work but I rarely bother for trivial things like delays.

I've been known to step up to guard trains to and from my home station (or beyond!) too during disruption. I once arrived back at my depot on a 10 hour shift to find the world had gone to pot and 3 Saturday night full and standing piss head expresses had no guard and/or driver and there were hundreds of people milling around waiting for buses - I rang Control and offered to jump on the back of a unit if they found me a driver to deal with a 3rd of the problem and agreed to me working over our normal maximum hours if they made sure I got home and that was what we did - the train was so packed I could hardly squeeze in the door and the empty stock working afterwards dropped me off at a station a short walk from home.

It is those that shout the loudest you hear about, of course, and they tend to be the ones who think the world owes them an easy living.
 

John Bishop

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I do wonder, given the very limited revenue currently, if Abellio, Transport Scotland, ScotGov or whoever sees this as a money saving exercise. No guards wage bill for 6 Sundays must be saving a fortune compared to revenue lost. Longer term when passenger numbers pick up may be an issue but I suspect no one is that concerned at present.
Absolutely this!
I don’t think the RMT realise this yet. Bit of an own goal really.
 

InOban

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And presumably, since ScotRail are cancelling Sunday services for the next weeks, they're not booking drivers either, and they were still due to get an enhanced overtime rate.
 

dk1

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And presumably, since ScotRail are cancelling Sunday services for the next weeks, they're not booking drivers either, and they were still due to get an enhanced overtime rate.
Why would they not book on drivers? Surely if it’s their booked Sunday they just get booked on spare at work or home.
 

Taunton

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What has happened to the mantra of "getting essential workers to their place of work" we have heard about consistently for the last 12 months to justify the huge additional subsidy and everyone on rail keeping their jobs? Presumably the attitude is all the NHS etc essential workers on Sundays can get stuffed.
 

Starmill

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One wonders whether, if no agreement can be made to resolve this industrial action, there will simply be no guarded Scotrail services on Sundays for the foreseeable future?
Or, at least, until more trains can run without conductors on Sundays.

Naturally this would be an awful outcome for the travelling public, to say nothing of our carbon emissions. But it probably would be value for money.

Correct. We still get paid our booked Sunday payment whether needed or not.
Presumably some of which are out working anyway, taking stock on and off depots etc?
 

whoosh

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It’s an extraordinary and pathetic mentality we have in this country, where people actively resent workers trying to protect themselves, and despise trade unions, often while working copious amounts of unpaid overtime themselves!

Yes, and thereby keeping someone else out of a job. Never see it like that though do they?


I do wonder, given the very limited revenue currently, if Abellio, Transport Scotland, ScotGov or whoever sees this as a money saving exercise. No guards wage bill for 6 Sundays must be saving a fortune compared to revenue lost. Longer term when passenger numbers pick up may be an issue but I suspect no one is that concerned at present.

This is a ridiculous situation, if you have two grades working a train and you are going to pay both an enhanced rate, but then cease this with one but continue with the other, then it's no wonder it's caused aggrevation.

No Guard's wage bill for 6 six weeks. I think that's exactly it.
One year when New Year's Day fell on a Sunday, Midland Mainline offered an enhanced rate to Train Managers (normally flat rate on a Sunday). ASLEF asked for an enhanced rate for Drivers as well (again normally flat rate on a Sunday), but this was declined. The Train Manager's enhanced rate for the day meant they were on a higher hourly rate than the drivers.

Can you guess what happened?

That's right, all the drivers put in 'not available' for that Sunday, except six in the whole company.
The day in question had already had the timetable altered for engineering works, but that went out of the window.
A two hourly service was run with the six drivers from Derby/Nottingham to Bedford. Passengers had to use Cross Country between Sheffield and Derby, and Thameslink South of Bedford.

The company were happy to run less trains it seems.


"Shall I go in and not really be valued as others involved in the operation of the train are, or shall I stay at home on a day that isn't in my contract to work?"

I'll stay at home thanks.

Entirely predictable dispute.
 

Watershed

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Yes, and thereby keeping someone else out of a job. Never see it like that though do they?
In 99% of circumstances, if the overtime wasn't done, the work simply wouldn't get done. The end result would be that the travelling public bears the brunt - along with frontline staff receiving foreseeable complaints and abuse.

It really isn't the case that there is a magic money tree that can be shaken so that a few more jobs fall out of it.
 

Starmill

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In 99% of circumstances, if the overtime wasn't done, the work simply wouldn't get done. The end result would be that the travelling public bears the brunt - along with frontline staff receiving foreseeable complaints and abuse.

It really isn't the case that there is a magic money tree that can be shaken so that a few more jobs fall out of it.
I wonder if the problem is that the railway sits at an uncomfortable juncture where commercial pressures or the pressures of managing public money respectively do not come into play in the same way as they would elsewhere.

In nearly all other lines of private sector work, as you and others have explained, quality employers at least give people a stake in the success of the business because that commercial drive is all that keeps jobs going. There are good examples of this, such as the ones @Dryce described above, and awful examples of it, such as Amazon putting too much pressure on their staff to extract productivity for them to even have time to use the toilet on shift.

In the public sector there is usually not a revenue drive but there's a public servants' attitude, and despite the appalling treatment the Conservatives have in recent years tried on with these workers (e.g. George Osborne reducing the value of past pension contributions retroactively which was most recently decided once and for all to have been unlawful - thanks a lot Osborne), that's still sticking around.

The issue with going on strike is there's no solution to the problem that involves spending more money, because the price level can't easily be raised much further and there's already so much public money supporting the system that it is not justifiable to find more.
 

Watershed

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I wonder if the problem is that the railway sits at an uncomfortable juncture where commercial pressures or the pressures of managing public money respectively do not come into play in the same way as they would elsewhere.
I think this is the heart of the issue. The railway has long sat on the fence on this one. Whilst in a number of ways it was OK for it to behave commercially (in terms of pay and conditions) during the good years, the difficulty is that some now want it to behave like the civil service (in terms of job security) during the bad years.

For both the passenger and the taxpayer, in many ways the current model has delivered the worst of all worlds - very high costs and a not insubstantial amount of industrial action. It's difficult to see how Transport Scotland, the DfT etc. can continue to sit hands-off in the current circumstances.
 

bluesfromagun

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I should clarify that Sundays are indeed overtime with ScotRail (for Drivers, Conductors, TEs, Station Staff etc), the contract is 35 (36 if you're a driver) hours a week, Monday to Saturday. You will be rostered to work 'booked Sundays', however these are paid at a premium and not part of your salary. If those Sundays are not being worked due to an industrial dispute, then that is 'action short of a strike', not strike action because you have withdrawn your labour on a day that you are not required to work within your 35 (or 36) hour week.
I know its a strange arrangement, and a bit of a grey area, but as previously mentioned, the company won't touch staff who take constantly avoid working their booked Sundays throufh calling in sick etc with a bargepole - and that's precisely because of the ambiguity of the system. Its a can of worms they really don't want to open, because the system of mandatory overtime that booked Sundays is would, I'd imagine, be legally dubious in a court.
 

380101

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And presumably, since ScotRail are cancelling Sunday services for the next weeks, they're not booking drivers either, and they were still due to get an enhanced overtime rate.

The Conductors and other grades also get the same deal for Sunday working as drivers. A booking on fee on top of the flat hourly rate.

Bizarrely they are carrying out action short of strike over the removal of an enhanced rest day working payment that the conditions the RMT negotiated the agreement over are no longer present. RMT negotiated with ScotRail for an enhanced rest day payment with a fixed end date to allow ScotRail to recruit more Conductors, Ticket Examiners and other grades to fill vacancies to alleviate their reliance on rest day working. This was as a result of a staff survey that found the above grades wanted more time off!!!

The driver's rest day working agreement has very specific requirements in that in order for ASLEF to sanction rest day working the company must be recruiting and/or training new drivers to fill vacancies etc. ASLEF negotiated an enhanced payment for this which the company agreed to and the agreement is reviewed every 3months and either side can terminate it should they wish. ScotRail still require drivers to work rest days as there is currently not enough drivers to cover the work.
 

Carlisle

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This is a ridiculous situation, if you have two grades working I’m a train and you are going to pay both an enhanced rate, but then cease this with one but continue with the other, then it's no wonder it's caused aggrevation.
In most of the UK anyway, there’ll be a multitude of grades, quite possibly from several different companies required to enable a passenger train to operate in service .
 
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scotraildriver

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I find it also quite bizarre that the grades who have arguably done the most work over the last year - cleaners and station grades- were excluded from the ballot. Having lost the all grades ballot the RMT decided to ballot guards separately, meanwhile the hard working cleaning staff soldier on, but now without a bonus. There is a deep divide forming within the RMT with the "other" grades feeling they have suddenly become a guards only union.
 

Robertj21a

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I find it also quite bizarre that the grades who have arguably done the most work over the last year - cleaners and station grades- were excluded from the ballot. Having lost the all grades ballot the RMT decided to ballot guards separately, meanwhile the hard working cleaning staff soldier on, but now without a bonus. There is a deep divide forming within the RMT with the "other" grades feeling they have suddenly become a guards only union.
Quite.

Interesting how often it's the RMT that tends to make matters worse rather than better.
 

Taunton

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RMT negotiated with ScotRail for an enhanced rest day payment with a fixed end date to allow ScotRail to recruit more Conductors, Ticket Examiners and other grades to fill vacancies to alleviate their reliance on rest day working.
Is the "dispute" thus merely a money grab by the RMT itself to have more rail employees, and thus more members, and thus more subscription income for the union? Are the subs a fixed amount per member per week/month?
 
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the sniper

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I find it also quite bizarre that the grades who have arguably done the most work over the last year - cleaners and station grades- were excluded from the ballot. Having lost the all grades ballot the RMT decided to ballot guards separately, meanwhile the hard working cleaning staff soldier on, but now without a bonus. There is a deep divide forming within the RMT with the "other" grades feeling they have suddenly become a guards only union.

Are you saying that the non-Guard grades voted against industrial action in an original ballot?

Is the "dispute" thus merely a money grab by the RMT itself to have more rail employees, and thus more members, and thus more subscription income for the union? Are the subs a fixed amount per member per week/month?

Why would the members have voted for industrial action on that basis?
 

scotraildriver

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Are you saying that the non-Guard grades voted against industrial action in an original ballot?



Why would the members have voted for industrial action on that basis?
Well the RMT seem to think so. They lost the original (all grades) ballot so they re balloted the guards *only* (no other grades) and got the mandate for strike action they wanted. But obviously none of the other grades can partake in any industrial action. And given the efforts of cleaning staff over the last year they probably have the right to be more aggrieved than anyone.
 
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