Guards during strikes

MartinB1

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I'm Traincrew, I agree with every single thing in this post. I have worked with some fantastic Guards who do their job properly, are compassionate and caring towards our passengers, are reliable and helpful to me as a Driver for operational assistance, it is a joy to work with these Guards.
On the other side of the coin there are some bad Guards out there who really let their decent colleagues down and to be quite frank, I wish these Guards were dealt with much more thoroughly by management. Complete disdain towards passengers, no effort to maintain their operational knowledge or assist the Driver in operational matters. These Guards are most commonly found sat in the back cab playing on their phone or in the mess room loudly stating their views that they are grossly underpaid. Those Guards, I wish they would leave the railway because they are of little/no help to me or the travelling public and to be honest, I think they have partly contributed to the mess we are in now.
Please do not take this post as me knocking the Guards grade, I actually think the bad minority do a disservice to proper, professional Guards and it's why they anger me so much.
A decent Guard is needed on all passenger trains, in an ideal world they would be replacing the crap ones.
I couldn't agree more with you. I am passionately for having a guard on every train, however too many guards really do not help themselves. It is these guards who are poor, lazy who also tend to be the most militant ie finding any reason not to work a train. The thing is if the company tried to clamp down on the poor standards, the RMT would cry foul. I imagine in the run up to the franchise there were 'secret' passengers from first/mtr assessing the onboard service, and wondering if the company/passengers get value for money out of the guards. How hard is it for example, to make a good announcement that everyone can understand?!?
 
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father_jack

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I couldn't agree more with you. I am passionately for having a guard on every train, however too many guards really do not help themselves. It is these guards who are poor, lazy who also tend to be the most militant ie finding any reason not to work a train. The thing is if the company tried to clamp down on the poor standards, the RMT would cry foul. I imagine in the run up to the franchise there were 'secret' passengers from first/mtr assessing the onboard service, and wondering if the company/passengers get value for money out of the guards. How hard is it for example, to make a good announcement that everyone can understand?!?
But by the same token, how many managers travel passenger every day (name badge off and broadsheet paper up) and hear bad announcements or even see bad procedures and do nothing ? The slackers are always well known but it's too much like hard work for some managers to take them to task. Of course the union will defend but you'd be very surprised at the number of reps who frequently "do manager" and tell people to get a grip.....
 

Carlisle

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I personally agree with the current strike action, however the brainless militant mentality I can not abide by. .
You can’t really have it both ways. if you support the victory of the unions current campaigns which in truth aim to prevent any change to train crew working methods other than possibly who operates the door release button in future , then the militant mentality will have won fair and square
 
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MartinB1

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But by the same token, how many managers travel passenger every day (name badge off and broadsheet paper up) and hear bad announcements or even see bad procedures and do nothing ? The slackers are always well known but it's too much like hard work for some managers to take them to task. Of course the union will defend but you'd be very surprised at the number of reps who frequently "do manager" and tell people to get a grip.....
I do agree with that. Unfortunately there is a bit of a culture on the railways whereby people want a simple life, and reporting a guard for making gash announcements/being invisible would amount to complicating their daily routine. I think wanting to get rid of guards is ultimately ideological, combined with the fact that too many guards do not do a good enough job. I find it almost unthinkable in an age when trains are getting busier/longer, and on a network like swr where even the slightest delay causes a massive knock on effect that there wouldn't be a 2nd person onboard. Guards need to fight for themselves not just with industrial action, but also by generally upping their own game.

I do also think that the RMT could be a little more cute with how they operate. Why not hand out leaflets to passengers detailing what guards actually do, why they are so important, their customer service role, disabled passengers, mitigating against delays caused by pulled passcom/passengers taking ill/door problems, and why it is so important that guards retain their safety critical role? Also the SWR is so busy with many converging routes, maybe the public also need to be educated as to how guards are integral to preventing knock on delays to the network in general. Just banging on about the doors turns off people, and the public need to be kept/brought onside.
 
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MartinB1

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You can’t really have it both ways. if you support the victory of the unions current campaigns which in truth aim to prevent any change to train crew working methods other than possibly who operates the door release button in future , then the militant mentality will have won fair and square weather you like it or not.
I agree with the principle of having a guard on EVERY train, and the guards fighting for their jobs striking if necessary. Expecting the public to put their own lives on hold and boycotting the railway is a completely different matter however, and there is an element of the RMT taking the militancy too far. There is a story going around that recently a guard at Waterloo refused to work a 707 train despite the fact he was in date in terms of his training, and that there would be a guards coach with him on the train. He knew full well he would get away with it, and probably trying to make a point along with getting out of a job. All the while knowing that his reps would be fully behind him. Unions do a great job looking after people, however occasionally it can be taken too far and isn't constructive. At the end of the day the RMT and the guards should be WANTING the company to find them completely indispensable.
 

MartinB1

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Just carrying on from what I've said above, I do appreciate that there are many many damn good guards. Unfortunately there is a significant minority who let them and everyone else down.
 
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Are the "managers" acting as guards, really all managers, or just any office based staff?

I know the RMT likes to use the term "manager" all the time with the associated disgust at such a person who becomes management.
The official term that currently gets used is "Person Undertaking Guard Duties" or PUGs as they have become known. Of course there are many far less polite terms used!

It's worth remembering that they aren't necessarily even the TOC's own staff and could have come from a different TOC with the same parent company, or another business unit within the group. So in the case of South Western Railway, the PUGs could be from Great Western, Transpennine Express or indeed from First Bus.
 

Matt Taylor

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From what I understand, commercial guards get a better basic salary at SWR than their managers, but in general managers have a better social life except for when they’re on call.

It’s worth pointing out to a lot of people two things;

A) on revenue routes its much easier to get through a train and be proactive without doing revenue duties, so it will appear that these people used as guards (PUGs) are much more visible, when in actual fact that’s probably not the case.

B) office based staff probably haven’t worked many trains, it’s novel to them to be intergrating with the traveling public, they’re nervous, excited, the whole experience is brand new to them. They’re going to want to go the extra mile because they’re eager. Normal guards don’t have that novelty, they do it day in and day out, they develop routines of how to work certain services groups with certain formations. Some are better than others and that goes across all depots. In an ideal world all guards would be running up and down a train like it was their 2nd week on the job. Sadly there is too much of a culture of doing just enough to keep their heads below managements watch rather. Anyone who actively patrols their trains regularly gets labelled as a ticket monster, it’s seen as uncool to make a difference to the passengers, whether that’s meeting them, making their day better, or relieving them of a couple of £££....

There are, however, some very good guards, who are diligent in what they do, and make an effort, sadly their efforts are often overlooked. I’ve noticed as well that sadly, the most vocal on the union front (save the guard etc) seem the be the more lazy ones.....

I appreciate that my comments above may draw flak from traincrew, but deep down, a lot will know it to be true.

I've been reading these forums for almost a decade and this is possibly the single post I have seen in that time. I'm traincrew directly involved in the current action but I fully support what has been said. Bravo!
 

Busaholic

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From what I understand, commercial guards get a better basic salary at SWR than their managers, but in general managers have a better social life except for when they’re on call.

It’s worth pointing out to a lot of people two things;

A) on revenue routes its much easier to get through a train and be proactive without doing revenue duties, so it will appear that these people used as guards (PUGs) are much more visible, when in actual fact that’s probably not the case.

B) office based staff probably haven’t worked many trains, it’s novel to them to be intergrating with the traveling public, they’re nervous, excited, the whole experience is brand new to them. They’re going to want to go the extra mile because they’re eager. Normal guards don’t have that novelty, they do it day in and day out, they develop routines of how to work certain services groups with certain formations. Some are better than others and that goes across all depots. In an ideal world all guards would be running up and down a train like it was their 2nd week on the job. Sadly there is too much of a culture of doing just enough to keep their heads below managements watch rather. Anyone who actively patrols their trains regularly gets labelled as a ticket monster, it’s seen as uncool to make a difference to the passengers, whether that’s meeting them, making their day better, or relieving them of a couple of £££....

There are, however, some very good guards, who are diligent in what they do, and make an effort, sadly their efforts are often overlooked. I’ve noticed as well that sadly, the most vocal on the union front (save the guard etc) seem the be the more lazy ones.....

I appreciate that my comments above may draw flak from traincrew, but deep down, a lot will know it to be true.
It's a bit like the situation on many preserved railways with some guards and platform staff, basically playing with being something they never were in 'real life', as it were, day in and day out. I'm not decrying their efforts, the railways couldn't operate without such people, but they see the job through rose-tinted spectacles.
 

Carlisle

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I agree with the principle of having a guard on EVERY train, and the guards fighting for their jobs striking if necessary. Expecting the public to put their own lives on hold and boycotting the railway is a completely different matter however, and there is an element of the RMT taking the militancy too far. There is a story going around that recently a guard at Waterloo refused to work a 707 train despite the fact he was in date in terms of his training, and that there would be a guards coach with him on the train. He knew full well he would get away with it, and probably trying to make a point along with getting out of a job. All the while knowing that his reps would be fully behind him. Unions do a great job looking after people, however occasionally it can be taken too far and isn't constructive. At the end of the day the RMT and the guards should be WANTING the company to find them completely indispensable.
Although I don’t support the strikes , I completely agree that really lazy guards are a very small minority. Waterloo always seemed to have more its fare share of problems with militants, and probably isn’t a fair reflection on the railway as a whole, Im pretty sure BR seriously considered closing the depot there at one point mainly due to these type of issues .
 
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otomous

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I couldn't agree more with you. I am passionately for having a guard on every train, however too many guards really do not help themselves. It is these guards who are poor, lazy who also tend to be the most militant ie finding any reason not to work a train. The thing is if the company tried to clamp down on the poor standards, the RMT would cry foul. I imagine in the run up to the franchise there were 'secret' passengers from first/mtr assessing the onboard service, and wondering if the company/passengers get value for money out of the guards. How hard is it for example, to make a good announcement that everyone can understand?!?
Why do you think the RMT would “cry foul” about an employer clamping down on poor standards? As a previous poster said, the poor majority let us all down and we would prefer them to be dealt with. Rightly the RMT would represent its members in a disciplinary case to ensure fair treatment but it would not condone clear and deliberate misconduct, and it is not its job to monitor and discipline staff.
 

tsr

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And they open doors on the wrong side (Redhill)
Wasn't that the one there were conflicting reports about, with some saying the RMT used an incident one of their own members was guilty of the day before?
Guards do not open doors on any regular timetabled service at Redhill. SWR also do not serve that station and their guards do not sign the route or most of the regular traction.

Sounds like someone’s been telling porkies!
 

MartinB1

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Why do you think the RMT would “cry foul” about an employer clamping down on poor standards? As a previous poster said, the poor majority let us all down and we would prefer them to be dealt with. Rightly the RMT would represent its members in a disciplinary case to ensure fair treatment but it would not condone clear and deliberate misconduct, and it is not its job to monitor and discipline staff.
I'm sure I've heard stories where on the tube drivers went on strike because of a driver who got sacked for what sounded like a major demeanour. Obviously I'm being very vague here, and am probably basing this just on what I've read in a right wing newspaper or something.
 

Dieseldriver

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I'm sure I've heard stories where on the tube drivers went on strike because of a driver who got sacked for what sounded like a major demeanour. Obviously I'm being very vague here, and am probably basing this just on what I've read in a right wing newspaper or something.
With the greatest of respect, while I would imagine strikes may have stemmed from disputes similar to what you're referring to, I would be extremely wary if the source is the media.
They write some ridiculous, insulting and unfounded things about railway workers on a regular basis for some reason. Some of the things I have seen printed have been a complete fabrication. I'm not blindly defending unions btw as I am more than happy to criticise them (particularly for the idiotic way their 'press releases' seem to portray it's members) but just be aware that there are a lot of conveniently misplaced truths and untruths within or hidden from news stories.
 
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aformeruser

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Guards do not open doors on any regular timetabled service at Redhill. SWR also do not serve that station and their guards do not sign the route or most of the regular traction.

Sounds like someone’s been telling porkies!
I can't find the posts on this from Wednesday now but they appeared very early in the day, considering there was a local paper article which had quotes from the RMT and First Group with the RMT saying it happened on a strike day and the First Group saying it happened earlier in the week.
 

pompeyfan

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The article you mention was in reference to an alleged incident at Guildford where there was either a wrong side release or a stop short (or both)
 

[.n]

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You'll have to explain your concerns to me as I don't understand (I'm not even sure if the trains I go on have a guard). Do all guards on all services normally sell tickets ? What was this RPI supposed to be feeding back to management ?

On a normal day, we have commercial guards, it is therefore possible to buy tickets, upgrade tickets, excess tickets, etc. Throughout the journey the two "guards" (managers) stated that they were unable to sell etc tickets, (and bear in mind it wasn't possible to buy tickets from a lot of places because of bus replacements/short interchange times). Add in the train was now sufficiently delayed that delay repay now applied.

Towards the very end of the journey a few stops from the terminus, an RPI boarded - it seemed very bad PR to then try and penalise passengers, and that is the feedback I mentioned - what kind of silliness is it to further inconvenience passengers!
 

Robertj21a

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On a normal day, we have commercial guards, it is therefore possible to buy tickets, upgrade tickets, excess tickets, etc. Throughout the journey the two "guards" (managers) stated that they were unable to sell etc tickets, (and bear in mind it wasn't possible to buy tickets from a lot of places because of bus replacements/short interchange times). Add in the train was now sufficiently delayed that delay repay now applied.

Towards the very end of the journey a few stops from the terminus, an RPI boarded - it seemed very bad PR to then try and penalise passengers, and that is the feedback I mentioned - what kind of silliness is it to further inconvenience passengers!
Thanks for adding in a bit more information. Are you saying that the RPI actually started checking tickets or was it just that he got on and only then realised that tickets might not have been sold (in which case I'm not sure why it's particularly significant).
 

father_jack

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Guards do not open doors on any regular timetabled service at Redhill. SWR also do not serve that station and their guards do not sign the route or most of the regular traction.

Sounds like someone’s been telling porkies!
My mistake, it was Guildford not Redhill, apologies.

However the RMT have put this out today.
https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/rmt-raises-serious-swr-safety-breaches/
13 November 2017

RMT Press Office:

RMT raises serious safety breaches during South Western Railway strike action with regulator.

RAIL UNION RMT said today that it has written to the rail safety regulator, the Office of Road and Rail, setting out a series of serious safety breaches during last week’s strike action on South Western Railway.


The incidents, which occured on Wednesday 8th November, all involve the use of poorly trained "contingency guards" in an effort to break the RMT strike action and highlight again how the safety regulator the ORR - which is funded to the tune of £2.3 million by South Western Railway co-owner, First Group - is failing ‎in its statutory duty to maintain public safety during industrial action.


The incidents highlighted by RMT in letters to the ORR are as follows;


The contingency Guard of the 1320 Waterloo-Woking (2F33) is reported to have given the Ready-To-Start on a red signal (WM191) at Wimbledon. This apparent breach is then compounded by the fact that:

1) The contingency guard reported this unsafe act retrospectively (i.e. after already having departed Wimbledon), when it is a strict requirement that guards must report such an act prior to continuing to work the train any further.

2) The signaller at Wimbledon was not made aware of this, which is very serious given the contingency guard concerned is alleging that an equipment failure (falsely lit off indicator) was responsible for their giving the RTS on red. Footage from the train concerned is still awaited, however footage obtained from other trains does not corroborate this and initial investigations have yet to show any faults with the equipment.

3) The contingency guard finished working their turn and went home without completing the necessary incident report forms. Again, a serious breach of rules which require all traincrew to complete and submit reports concerning safety breaches at or before the end of their duty.

• 2U21, 09:28 Waterloo to Windsor, the PUG activated the door panel early and prior to arrival at Wraysbury and Sunnymeads resulting in the train stopping short at the platform. Despite these incidents, which under normal circumstances would have led to our member’s dismissal. The PUG was allowed to continue because of it being a “minor training issue”.

• 05:14 service Waterloo to Guildford service arrived at a gulley platform 6/7 where doors were opened on both sides. Operational procedures are that even in gulley platforms doors should only be opened on one side.

• 1P39, 13:30 Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour. A ready to start indication was given to the driver against a red at Petersfield.

• We have a report of the PUG leaving the Guards Operating Panel prior to departure and therefore failed to properly observe the platform in direct contravention of the rule book. I am awaiting further details on the time and service running number.

• We also have a report of another PUG opening the doors prior to arrival at Windsor. I am awaiting further details on the time and service running number.

• We also have a report of a manger despatching a train against a red signal at Waterloo while wearing limited PPE. I am awaiting further details on the time and service running number.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;
"Once again this union is forced to raise a catalogue of serious safety breaches resulting from the dangerous use of fake guards during industrial action with the official safety regulator.


‎”RMT has warned repeatedly that the use of these ill-equipped individuals is a disasater waiting to happen and yet again the supposedly independent safety inspectorate have failed to act on those warnings.


“We now expect them to take this latest catalogue of incidents seriously and to act accordingly. "


ENDS

EDITORS NOTES:
Copies of RMT letters to ORR below:



Ian Prosser
HM Chief Inspector of Railways
ORR
One Kemble Street
London
WC2B 4AN

Dear Ian

SOUTHWESTERN RAILWAY – STRIKE DAY INCIDENTS

Following my letter of yesterday I have been given details of a further incident which needs investigating.

The contingency Guard of the 1320 Waterloo-Woking (2F33) is reported to have given the Ready-To-Start on a red signal (WM191) at Wimbledon. This apparent breach is then compounded by the fact that:

1) The contingency guard reported this unsafe act retrospectively (i.e. after already having departed Wimbledon), when it is a strict requirement that guards must report such an act prior to continuing to work the train any further.

2) The signaller at Wimbledon was not made aware of this, which is very serious given the contingency guard concerned is alleging that an equipment failure (falsely lit off indicator) was responsible for their giving the RTS on red. Footage from the train concerned is still awaited, however footage obtained from other trains does not corroborate this and initial investigations have yet to show any faults with the equipment.

3) The contingency guard finished working their turn and went home without completing the necessary incident report forms. Again, a serious breach of rules which require all traincrew to complete and submit reports concerning safety breaches at or before the end of their duty.

Please advise me of any action you intend to take in this regard.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary

Ian Prosser
HM Chief Inspector of Railways
ORR
One Kemble Street
London
WC2B 4AN

Dear Ian

SOUTHWESTERN RAILWAY – STRIKE DAY INCIDENTS

You will be aware from our recent talks that Southwestern Railway put out a press release that ORR had “scrutinised” their operational plans for days on which our members were taking legitimate industrial action. You did indicate that you would not have used this word to describe your inspection of the company’s plans. You did however confirm to us that Southwestern had submitted their proposals for independent verification by a third-party entity.

You will therefore be surprised that there were a number of failures and incidents yesterday that as was the case with Greater Anglia lead us to question the validity and the safety of those plans in light of poor operational experience.

We have had the following incidents reported to us:

• 2U21, 09:28 Waterloo to Windsor, the PUG activated the door panel early and prior to arrival at Wraysbury and Sunnymeads resulting in the train stopping short at the platform. Despite these incidents, which under normal circumstances would have led to our member’s dismissal. The PUG was allowed to continue because of it being a “minor training issue”.

• 05:14 service Waterloo to Guildford service arrived at a gulley platform 6/7 where doors were opened on both sides. Operational procedures are that even in gulley platforms doors should only be opened on one side.

• 1P39, 13:30 Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour. A ready to start indication was given to the driver against a red at Petersfield.

• We have a report of the PUG leaving the Guards Operating Panel prior to departure and therefore failed to properly observe the platform in direct contravention of the rule book. I am awaiting further details on the time and service running number.

• We also have a report of another PUG opening the doors prior to arrival at Windsor. I am awaiting further details on the time and service running number.

• We also have a report of a manger despatching a train against a red signal at Waterloo while wearing limited PPE. I am awaiting further details on the time and service running number.

No doubt your inspectors will investigate these incidents and come to the same conclusion that you have with other operators which seems to be that everything in the garden is rosy until we have another incident that might result in a more serious outcome before you finally step in to stops these shoddy working practices.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary
 

pompeyfan

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Very detailed.

Looking forward to the RMT press releases of their own members' cockups in future.

Agreed, they shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses, all of the alleged incidents are something that happen Day in day out, but, that’s a lot of incidents for one day.
 

father_jack

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Agreed, they shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses, all of the alleged incidents are something that happen Day in day out, but, that’s a lot of incidents for one day.
But "remedial" processes exist for staff who mess up or breach rules. And I've known people for find themselves continuing their railway careers on gatelines or cleaning carriages, or to find themselves "leaving the business" to use industry speak.
 

Robertj21a

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But "remedial" processes exist for staff who mess up or breach rules. And I've known people for find themselves continuing their railway careers on gatelines or cleaning carriages, or to find themselves "leaving the business" to use industry speak.
Are all those cases also reported to the ORR ?
 

Matt Taylor

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How many times do i have to say that no matter what the Guard does, the companies and the government want to get rid of the grade and all the associated roles that go with it. Even if every single Guard did over and above what he/she is suppose to do, the companies still want rid. It isnt about a very small minority who do just the bare minimum or less, it is the cost of employing that person be he good, be he bad, be he indifferent.
Remind me again how the RMT caved in at London Overground, and how they have failed to achieve anything other than big financial losses for the guards at Southern. There's nothing wrong with taking a stand against your employer but the RMT, particularly since Bob Crow's passing, has become a losing horse with the wrong strategy almost every time. I'm sorry that you were made redundant at London Overground but similarly the SWR 'metro' network is ideal for conversion to DOO. I could see this coming years ago which is why I got out of doing endless Hounslow loops etc and headed to a depot with a more secure future. I've been made redundant twice already on the railway but I have adapted to whatever change has been required to keep me in good employment in the industry and the slow creep of DOO is just another challenge to overcome, but I won't be relying on the RMT to do that for me.
 

Moonshot

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Very detailed.

Looking forward to the RMT press releases of their own members' cockups in future.
Indeed......and as a regular guard myself , cock ups do happen from time to time......its a human trait to carry out a wrong action which you believe is right - we generally call them mistakes. Drivers have the same human fraility as guards , which is why you occasionally see a train go past a red signal when it shouldnt have.
 

DarloRich

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I couldn't agree more with you. I am passionately for having a guard on every train, however too many guards really do not help themselves. It is these guards who are poor, lazy who also tend to be the most militant ie finding any reason not to work a train. The thing is if the company tried to clamp down on the poor standards, the RMT would cry foul. I imagine in the run up to the franchise there were 'secret' passengers from first/mtr assessing the onboard service, and wondering if the company/passengers get value for money out of the guards. How hard is it for example, to make a good announcement that everyone can understand?!?
But there is an agreed performance management process. It should be followed to mangage poor performance. IF (and it is always a big IF) the process is followed properly the union can have no complaints about the outcome. The problem is that the process isnt followed correctly. Far to often managers assume they know the process instead of checking what the process actually is!
 

Moonshot

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But there is an agreed performance management process. It should be followed to mangage poor performance. IF (and it is always a big IF) the process is followed properly the union can have no complaints about the outcome. The problem is that the process isnt followed correctly. Far to often managers assume they know the process instead of checking what the process actually is!
What is the process?
 

bramling

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But there is an agreed performance management process. It should be followed to mangage poor performance. IF (and it is always a big IF) the process is followed properly the union can have no complaints about the outcome. The problem is that the process isnt followed correctly. Far to often managers assume they know the process instead of checking what the process actually is!
This is so true. I've seen it happen so many times when a disciplinary hearing falls apart, or is overturned on appeal, because the company's own procedures simply haven't been followed. Unfortunately it's often the case that someone has been involved in some kind of incident, and the manager(s) dealing with it have tried to made the situation fit a particular outcome that they desire for the individual concerned, i.e. it's someone they want to get rid of and they are too focused on that outcome to realise that they are adding 2 and 2 to make 10. I remember a particularly stupid case where someone was being done for a SPAD on a yellow aspect, which progressed alarmingly far before being thrown out.

Meanwhile, it's also common for disciplinary hearings to fail simply because the paperwork is rubbish. Again one can't blame the union for highlighting errors which shouldn't be there.
 

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