Advising on the transfer of the Stoneblower contract from Balfour Beatty
Harsco Rail is the largest railway infrastructure maintenance and construction company in the Western Hemisphere. It uses a range of high-quality equipment and cutting-edge technology to support its customer base of more than 125 railways throughout the world. Founded in 1909, it has over 1,000 employees in 50 countries and believes its success is because of its commitment to partnering with customers to solve the unique challenges of maintaining railway track structures.
Since 2018, we have provided employment law support to Harsco Rail, which included advice on a complex capability dismissal.
In 2022, we successfully defended an unlawful deduction from wages claim where multiple claimants were backed by a trade union. We successfully persuaded the claimants that their claim was futile, and they withdrew before a final tribunal judgment was necessary. All employers, irrespective of their processes, can be susceptible to these claims. It is useful to review processes periodically, as Harsco did, to ensure they are robust.
In 2017, Harsco was awarded a contract to provide the fleet of Stoneblower maintenance track machines to Network Rail. These machines restore the line of the track so that it has a smooth level along the rail to mitigate risks such as derailing.
The contract was subsequently transferred to Balfour Beatty in 2018 but was retendered in 2023. Harsco Rail successfully tendered for the contract and, as employees moved from Balfour Beatty in May 2023, we supported Harsco on the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations which included attending meetings with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers. We advised on contract terms, pay and redundancies.
We also assisted with complex changes in the operating structure arising from the transfer to ensure a continuous service to the end customer.
Lynne Aldred, Human Resources Business Partner says:
"We have always felt supported by Watershed and the advice we have received has enabled the UK Rail part of the business to successfully navigate the more complex issues of the HR caseload. We feel that there is a good strong working relationship between Watershed and Harsco Rail, which we are looking forward to continuing in the future."
Jo Hale and Stuart Irving from Watershed with site engineers at Harsco Rail in York.