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PCSOs consider strike action over inability to get home after late shifts

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Transport workers union leader accuses railways force of 'turfing staff onto the streets'.

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British Transport Police PCSOs are considering strike action over changes to their shifts.

The TSSA union is balloting the force’s community support officers ahead of the imposition of a 1am shift finish which it says “jeopardises [their] safety” in London.

According to a statement from the union, the force is attempting to save money by changing shift patterns – but the workforce wll not be able to get home by public transport as a result.

The force employs 330 PCSOs, with half of them London-based, but the union says: “because they can't afford London housing, London PCSOs themselves depend on trains in and out of home counties to the commute to work.”.

PCSOs voiced their concerns that the new rosters are not practical during BTP's staff consultation process, but the TSSA says a proposal to finish the shift at midnight to enable members to make the last train home was rejected and PCSOs will now finish at 1am on one in three of their shifts.

General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: "BTP have made a sham of their own consultation process by ignoring the valid concerns of their staff who simply can't get home at 1am. Are they supposed to sleep at the station?

“No employer should turf their staff out at 1am onto the streets of London with no way to get home. But that's what BTP, the very people charged with ensuring the public travel safely, are now doing to their own staff. Frankly, it beggars belief and it's causing a lot of unnecessary upset."

The new rotas will be introduced from April.

The union is calling for shifts to be put back to midnight or to end at 7am instead, and will be balloting members over the issue.

Mr Cortes added: "Our PCSO members are professional police support staff dedicated to keeping commuters safe. So a failure by their bosses to protect them is insulting as is their unwillingness to negotiate with our reps over this easily resolvable issue.”

He added he will be calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to intervene to help the PCSOs.

BTP Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock said: “It is disappointing to learn of this proposal by TSSA to ballot our PCSOs on plans for industrial action, which feels somewhat premature and excessive when we are still engaged in discussions with those few employees affected by our planned shift changes. 

“I must also contradict the suggestion that this is an exercise in cost-cutting by ruthlessly cutting shift allowances.”

He added that the shift patterns were last reviewed in 2009 demand on the force has changed, and that staff had asked for a more reliable and consistent shift patterns.

“In addition we have sought to ensure fewer officers and staff are working on their own across the national network, as well as build in sufficient capacity to minimise the impact of abstractions when officers are absent through training, court appearances, sickness and annual leave.

“As the demand has changed, invariably it means the times of day we must be available to respond to incidents and manage large volumes of people travelling around the country must also change,” he said.

There have been claims in the past that warranted police officers in London have resorted to breaking into property because of their shift patterns and inability to get to their homes outside the capital when they have gone off duty.

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I don't blame them to be honest.  Currently they work nights on some nights, but in general their latest finish was 2300hrs, the roster they follow has 2 0200hr finishes but these are locally managed (most posts remove them). Their new roster has 1 in every 3 shifts with a 0100hrs finish, and most BTP PCSOs (who receive the same travel entitlements as PCs) commute in via rail. Of course if they're finishing at 0100 and live 70miles out of London, they're gonna be unable to get home.

The new shift pattern also removes their night shifts, reducing their pay by 5% (as it's a 5% removal of shift allowance)

 

We also aren't allowed to use station car parks or staff parking anymore as PSD view it as payment in kind, and paying for parking at a Central London railway station is not affordable.

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We also aren't allowed to use station car parks or staff parking anymore as PSD view it as payment in kind.

What a strange view.
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20 minutes ago, Growley said:


What a strange view.

It is strange, but it's their view and the one that matters.

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Posted (edited)

37 minutes ago, Growley said:


What a strange view.

What utter nonsense that decision is. It's a necessity not a gift.

Not sure I agree it is BTP's responsibility to ensure PCSOs can get home, no other business does that. 

Edited by funkywingnut

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, funkywingnut said:

What utter nonsense that decision is. It's a necessity not a gift.

Not sure I agree it is BTP's responsibility to ensure PCSOs can get home, no other business does that. 

It's not their responsibility to get officers home however there are reasonable welfare guards that's should be in place.

Provide subsidised or free parking - staff will have to swallow paying petrol to drive.

Or provide shifts which allow the vast majority to use public transport.

Many BTP postings are very far from officers home addresses...I used to have to commute from Kent to Wembley.

They did precisely this to me back in 2010. My late shifts were changed to close of traffic (0100) meaning that I could not commute home reasonably by train - the only way was via a series of nights buses and then a £20 taxi which door to door was about 2.5 to 3 hours. I did not drive. For a number of months I slept on a camp bed at work. I was then told that I was forbidden from doing that. So I was placed on varied shifts to work full nights instead of lates. I did that for around 6-8 months until again somebody raised an issue and I was told to revert to 0100hrs and tough luck. I left a few weeks later anyway and in the interim I managed to square away a lift home from Stockwell officers.

Essentially BTP will force a number of officers out of a job. It's not a requirement to hold a licence to join as a PCSO and due to the huge costs in living in London with PCSOs only getting 2k London allowance many will be commuting 20 miles or more.

I've just looked and it doesn't seem the pay has gone up since when I joined 9 years ago! £20k basic + 20% shift allowance, then £2k London allowance = just under £26k...to keep up even with just inflation that salary should be up to about £31k by now!

Edited by MerseyLLB
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12 hours ago, MindTheGap said:

It is strange, but it's their view and the one that matters.

It's certainly not considered a benefit or payment in kind by HMRC. 

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2 hours ago, martin said:

It's certainly not considered a benefit or payment in kind by HMRC. 

But PSD viewed it as a gratuity at most stations as the parking facilities were paid for by customers and we were getting them gratis by virtue of our status, thus a breach of the Code of Ethics.

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, martin said:

It's certainly not considered a benefit or payment in kind by HMRC. 

I don't think you've read that properly. On the previous page it says " There are different rules if you cover the costs of employees’ parking, rather than providing parking spaces yourself.". If BTP aren't providing the spaces themselves and these are instead being provided by a third party then I don't think what you have linked to applies in this instance.

Edited by Milankovitch

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16 hours ago, Milankovitch said:

I don't think you've read that properly. On the previous page it says " There are different rules if you cover the costs of employees’ parking, rather than providing parking spaces yourself.". If BTP aren't providing the spaces themselves and these are instead being provided by a third party then I don't think what you have linked to applies in this instance.

No but the following section covers providing parking for employees near their place of work.

There's two contradictory issues here (as usual in the police).

Either it's a tax issue because BTP are paying to provide the parking (not applicable due to tax exemptions for providing parking near to place of work) or its a Code of Ethics issue due to some kind of abuse of position (not applicable as it is common practice for places to provide concessions to employees direct or otherwise - TfL travel concession for one, Police council tax rebate for another).

This simply smacks of a corporate stance adopted by somebody who has little regard for their staff.

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7 hours ago, MerseyLLB said:

No but the following section covers providing parking for employees near their place of work.

BTP aren't providing it themselves though so I'm not sure it would be covered by that. I can't imagine BTP would be paying for it either or this issue wouldn't have come up in the first place. 

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They certainly used to. They had a deal with NCP and paid for a number of pool passes.

But in any case it doesn't seem to matter in HMRCs eyes if you provide parking yourself or not - only the circumstances of the provision. Did you read part 4?

Seeing is its almost impossible to place a monetary figure on providing their own parking - a central London firm could potential save employees 5k a year and a firm in Dover might not save their employees a penny.

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Do they still pay that though? If they've stopped that and no longer pay for it then the part in the relevant legislation about the tax exemption wouldn't apply. I can't see why the BTP would be paying for parking then telling their staff they can't park in it...

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As I said they used to. If that stopped, and the railway now provide a concession I still don't see where the tax liability issue or code of ethics comes into play.

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I'd agree about the code of ethics as it seems mad that a force like the BTP is largely funded by those operating the railway but they might somehow be compromised by a few perks from the companies that pay for them in the first place.

 

If the railway are providing a concession that the BTP don't pay for then the tax exemption for parking can't be relied upon and I can see how it would be a benefit in kind. Silly maybe but then tax rules normally are...

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