Traffic officers and members in the organisation’s Regional Contact Centres overwhelmingly rejected proposals put forward by Highways England in April 2019.
The key reasons for rejecting them included:
- the impact on work/life balance
- the introduction of 11 and 12 hours shifts
- lack of clarity over where people would fit into the new shift patterns
- lack of clarity over what would happen to people with a flexible working arrangement (FWA)
- the lack of financial incentives.
The union also said the organisation’s communications to staff about the proposed changes had been poor.
Highways England accepted that the proposed changes, and the reasons for introducing them, had not been very well explained to staff.
But it said that changes were necessary to better meet demand, meet its key performance indicators, improve efficiency and deliver financial savings.
Prospect negotiator Nick Radiven said: “We made it clear that as members had clearly rejected the current plans, simply coming forward with the same set of proposals was not an option.
“But we do want to try to reach agreement on new proposals which could benefit both Highways England and its staff.”
Some members have raised concerns about the fact that the organisation is currently briefing staff on when the new rosters will be introduced and what they will look like.
Nick Radiven pointed out that Highways England has accepted that as the current arrangements are contractual, they can only be changed if union members agree and that any new proposals would be put to members in a ballot.
He stressed that nothing has been agreed and key elements are still being discussed as part of the consultation:
- a date for the introduction of any new rosters has not been agreed
- what working patterns will look like in each region has not been agreed
- how any banked hours will be managed has not been agreed
- the treatment of people with FWAs and other non-standard contracts has not been agreed
- in line with a previous commitment to the unions, Highways England should give 90 days’ notice before any new rosters are introduced.