15th November 2005
Following a review of current best practice across its UK business, Adsteam is to introduce mandatory changes to the historic terms & conditions enjoyed by crew members on the Thames. The consequences of this change will be subject to consultation with the TGWU and employees in line with the company's legal obligations.
CEO Europe, Stephen Eastwood, today announced plans for greater operational efficiency and conformity with other UK ports, which will result in a 45% reduction in the Gravesend crews. Following on from the successful introduction of 3-person crewing across its UK operations, and in response to the loss of a significant contract at BP Coryton, the business is offering 36 crew members a new system of working.
The major changes to the old working practices which have remained unchanged for many years, is that crews will now work one week on, one week off with 4 weeks annual leave each year. This is a formula which has been successfully introduced across the other Adsteam UK ports and which, indeed, received formal approval of the Gravesend crews, local TGWU representatives and the TGWU regional officer in December 2004. To date, despite extensive consultation and the payment of improved salary and introduction of enhanced pension benefits made as part of the signed agreement from January of this year, no new working practices have yet been implemented.
Commenting on today's announcement, CEO Europe, Stephen Eastwood said: "We have worked very hard with Gravesend to keep everyone fully informed of the commercial imperatives of the business. The stewards and regional TGWU representative have sat down with the company and agreed a new working system to secure long-term employment for most of their members. However, this signed agreement has never been implemented by the workforce, who have simply not delivered on their promises. This fact, together with a decrease in anticipated container business over the last 3 months, on top of the significant loss of the BP Coryton contract, is making our Thames operation a non-viable business. The business therefore has no option but to bring Gravesend into line with the rest of our UK ports.
"A reduction in the workforce of around 45% will leave 36 people with new contracts of employment. The 30 people who will be made redundant will receive enhanced redundancy payments, which will reduce in value the longer it takes to implement the new working system. After the 30-day consultation period to discuss the consequences of these changes and in the event of a failure to agree and implement, the company will issue a 12-week notice of redundancy to individual employees. The remaining employees will be issued with 12- weeks' notice, terminating current contractual conditions and offering re-engagement under the new terms and conditions.
"It's very simple. We have talked, we have listened, we've negotiated and we have consulted and we will continue to consult on the consequences of this business decision. It is now time to act in the best interests of our national operations and to achieve parity with the model successfully operated across our other UK ports."
From tomorrow, each crew member will receive a fully documented explanatory pack, outlining the changes and their implications. A help line will also be manned to answer questions and individual requests for clarification.
For further information, please contact:
Stephen Eastwood Deborah Garritty
Chief Executive Europe Director
Adsteam (UK) Ltd Bell Pottinger North Ltd
tel 01482 337 650 tel 01625 506444