I’ve come in off the front to have a break. D has just walked into the room from a meeting with a manager. “They have said they can just terminate our contract”.
“Really?” F says, putting the duty book down and looking pained. “Yeah, it isn’t just you can’t be an instructor, if we continue to refuse we either go back to just being an operator or they sack us”. (Train operators who also work as instructors have been refusing some modes of work they consider covid-unsafe).
“So what are you going to do?”
“Well, I might take their option to stop for six months and go from there”. “Maybe if I was at the end of my time here I would keep fighting it, but now with so many already back doing the training, I can’t see us winning that fight.”
D goes on: “But I still don’t get why we don’t do the lateral flow test every day. It is all well and good going and doing the PCR test weekly, but you could catch this on your way home from the testing centre. It isn’t a bubble with a trainee... if they then go home and do whatever, you do whatever, see family... plus now people can go out and go to the pub... that makes a difference. It isn’t safe like they are saying.
“I think they are still cutting corners and we should just have stood together, but I get why some came back. It isn’t easy to just refuse all training. But it doesn’t sit right with me”.
“Times like this are a bit awkward in training, every depot you hear the same discussion, and friends tell me it’s happening on all the lines. But here we are in training with some instructor or other, while the others obviously feel let down”.
I will just sit this one out, I think. Not much I can offer, but I respect the decisions that have been made by train operators. Of course, if they all downed tools and refused, I’d back them. For now I should remember where my limit of shunt boards are…
• Jay Dawkey is a London Underground worker currently in training