Diary of a trackworker: "We know best" management

Submitted by AWL on 7 September, 2021 - 5:31 Author: Matt Shaw

These days, the incompetence of management really knows no bounds. For years, we’ve been asking for a safe way to work at height, and up until recently a sort of stand-off has developed.

Our method had been agreed, bit of a botch, but everybody knew what they were doing and what was required regarding equipment and technique.

However, somebody decided to make a name for themselves by deciding to to split the course where we learn how to climb safely into two courses.

Strange, but it’s not unknown for these things to happen. Usually we just do both parts and everybody keeps working.

So off go a couple of my workmates to take this “new” course, fully expecting to pass it and continue doing our work.

Oh no. Even if you pass the first part, you’re not allowed to climb unless you’ve passed both parts of the climbing competency.

Ok. When can they go on the next part? Sorry, says our training management, we’ve not actually got the second part written and it then has to have its safety case written.

In the meantime, more and more of us have been told we can’t climb as our competencies run out of date.

Almost 50% of our equipment is classed as “at height”. Too many workers told we can’t climb, and that would cripple our maintenance and slow repair of any faults that develop.

After this ridiculous situation was left to stew for a few weeks, higher management have “decreed” that the old system will remain in place until the second part of the new course has been written and safety checked.

No one will even tell us what was wrong with the old course. This is all part of the “we know best” style of management which has emerged much more severely during lockdown.

• Matt Shaw is a railway trackworker

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