Network Rail Staff to Lose Jobs with the Opening of the Milton Keynes National HQ this Summer?

Network Rail will be moving into its new National Operations Centre at Milton Keynes this summer amidst staff unrest caused by the transfer arrangements.

Network Rail to Sack Long Distance Staff or so Claims the Rail Union, The TSSA on Valentine’s Day

Network Rail is now making the final plans for its staff to relocate from across the network to its new £120m HQ at Milton Keynes.

Unlike previous railway administrations going back decades, whenever staff have had to relocate, a package of arrangements has been applicable. This has included paying travelling time if more than an extra hour travelling was the result of being moved.

The Transport & Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) has said that Network Rail (NR) is planning to sack hundreds of staff for living too far away from the new HQ complex at Milton Keynes.

The TSSA quotes a figure of 40% of staff at their London HQ will face the axe this summer if they live more than 75 minutes travelling time from Milton Keynes.

Managers have been given more leeway and can live up to 90 minutes away from the National Operations Centre to Milton Keynes station on the site of the old National Hockey Stadium.

The union estimate some 850 staff, mainly living south of London in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, will lose their jobs when 2,200 transfer from the Melton Street HQ next to Euston in the summer.

The Union Says:

"This is an unfair and arbitrary decision which we believe to be unlawful," said union general secretary Manuel Cortes.

"It does not apply to staff working in London at present. This modern day version of Beat the Clock to get to work is a complete nonsense.

"They are telling staff they cannot follow their jobs in the worst recession in 70 years. With unemployment heading towards 3 million, where else are they going to find work in these hard times?".

He has written to NR warning bosses that the union will take legal action to defend its members’ right to move to Milton Keynes.

He added: "This is the legacy of bully boy HR boss Peter Bennett who stood down at Christmas. The irony is that he lived in rural splendour in Leicestershire and travelled first class into the office in a journey that took longer than 75 minutes.

"We are hoping that NR will start to see sense on this issue and finally end the hypocrisy of the Bennett era."

The Coucher Connection

Previous Network Rail Chief Executive Iain Coucher started the project and a large part of the planning was carried out by his brother under circumstances that some questioned. The building was also deemed to be too small when the contracts were signed with BAM to construct it with an anticipated 3000 people estimated to be working within the fortress-like complex.

Network Rail’s devolution into Regions has reduced the number of employees required at Milton Keynes so the overcrowding problem has somewhat fortuitously vanished!

Previous Arrangements

When offices were relocated or staff seconded for a period, they were traditionally offered extra payment to cover the cost of moving in the shape of a ‘Disturbance’ Allowance and this, it is understood, may not apply to those moving to Milton Keynes.

So many will forced to look for other railway jobs which they can do without having to relocate at their own expense.

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