The RMT trade union recently called for more train operators. The union's National Executive Committee made a decision on the matter that stated the issues caused by a lack of drivers are 'increasingly detrimental effect on members in terms of their ability to take leave, family friendly & flexible arrangements, medically necessary reasonable adjustments, training, secondments, career development and representation at management meetings including disciplinaries.'
The RMT decision blames the 2009 agreement for the shortage of drivers, The agreement installed the practice of 'minimum numbers' at depot and as these were lower than the current numbers in many places, the company used it to make cuts and move people around across the combine.
It is however something of a misnomer to blame the agreements as a willing employer could suggest altering it to increase numbers. The true reason we have too few drivers is because our bosses hired too few drivers.
The ASLEF functional reps, some of whom haven't driven a train for 20 years or longer, took this attack on the 2009 agreement as a personal attack as they see themselves primarily as the keepers of these agreements (even though they admit it 'isn't perfect'), and so another tiresome spat between our unions took hold.
The RMT would be wise to focus on what this important dispute is about: more train operator jobs. This benefits everybody, those of us who already drive trains, those who want a job driving trains, and those who need to get around London.
When ASLEF argues against this move from the RMT they are actually arguing against is an increase in train operator numbers. When a union's officials get so blindsided by petty disputes that they behave in that way, it is harmful to all of us.