“Even when Boris announced the lockdown they wanted us to continue the training. I will never forgive them for that. Sorry if it sounds like I don’t care, or I am not putting any extra back in, but that is how I feel now. If we hadn’t kicked off, they would have tried to force us into unsafe work. Now, whatever they do, I will remember that”.
K, an instructor driver, is not particularly happy to be back instructing. “And even now, I ask to be released so I can do what I think helps the trainees, but instead they are just giving me normal duties, and I am sick of wearing a mask in a train cab all day while trying to explain things to someone else”.
“Anyway”, he smiles to me, his current trainee. “Now you know where we are with it all. And don’t let us being like this stop them giving you what you need. I will give you enough evidence that if you need to ask for more time then you can ask for more time. Don’t let them rush you. This is a hard job to get, but an easy one to lose”.
It is reassuring to know despite it all, they do want to help. But the training is a lot more broken up than we’d like. Covid tests every week, then waiting for results before you can get back in the cab with a different instructor. More and more instructors and trainees are getting wise to it now, though. The Covid tests are done on Mondays, and because of the wait for results, management are trying to make people take Tuesdays as rest days, rather than the days they actually want off. “You might as well be off, because you may be sitting around, not able to drive”. But you see more people in on a Tuesday than earlier in the year.
“Perhaps we can eke it all out until after more of the restrictions end and you can go back to what training would have been like”, says another driver. “I will do my best”, K laughs.
• Jay Dawkey is a worker on London Underground.