Diary of a trackworker: Who knows best, workers or managers?

Submitted by AWL on 20 July, 2021 - 6:55 Author: Matt Shaw
Worker and manager

There are times when you feel like shutting down and letting management just completely fuck up as they go in circles trying to obey the latest “drive” for efficiency while not listening to us on the sharp end.

One example. We have had a faulty cable for some weeks now which was due to be changed. A team went out, but found that the rules for changing said cable were conflicted, i.e. the tests were described for an old style cable, not for the new “plug and play” connectors.

The first team reported this back, saying that they needed a certain bit of kit, and so the job was pushed back.

Another team was then sent out, without the kit requested, and effectively told to ignore that testing requirement and bring the cable into work. This put the team leader in the position of signing off something which he knew to be not up to standard, which would have him in the firing line if anything went wrong.

To his credit he refused and has fired this back up to management with a “not on my watch” email.

This team did actually go and have a look at the replacement which had been run into position, but found it had some construction faults and it must have come from the factory in that condition. Again, the previous team had reported this but nothing had been done.

Finally, regarding the “bit of kit” they required to do the job in the first place: this new signalling system has been in work for over a year, and previously it had been installed over 18 months with the contractors doing the testing before it was brought into work.

How did they do the tests if they hadn’t got the required kit, and if they had, then why have we not got it? This problem has been brought up previously to higher management.

And they wonder why their most experienced staff are taking retirement. To use a colloquialism, you couldn’t make it up.

• Matt Shaw is a railway trackworker

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