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The Covid effect on agency staff!

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Ivor

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I was in two minds whether to post here or under jobs & careers but as Covid has created the issue both positively & negatively now on agency staff hope I’m posting correctly.

I have been railway agency staff for nearly three years on behalf of GTR: CSA, Gateline, bus replacement, crowd control, social distancing, advising mask wearing & during the Summer months at big coastal stations getting thousands of beach goers through large manually opened/closed double gates as Gateline closed for exit but was like trying to herd kittens.

Although shifts pre Covid could be hit & miss it was not unusual to go weeks without a single shift.

Early in the year many of us across the Southern Coastal routes & Main Line routes got many months work covering SD, CSA etc plus some of us had work at Gatwick Airport due to the current station/airport building improvements but passengers in the main not travelling. Due to lack of footfall we have been sidelined & I understand that business is business.

The past couple of months & more so couple of weeks has heightened the majority of us being ‘laid off’ totally (we can remain on the books) as Gatelines have reopened, social distancing ‘policing’ ceased, one way systems disbanded (not all) etc

So all this work because of dramatically lower footfall especially outside of the Summer has gone.

Many of us now left like many in the UK job hunting & whether the work as I say has been hit & miss of course we have been pleased to have something even if a couple of days a week in some locations or 5-6 shifts so we have been grateful for that.

We assume now the Government via the DfT are slowly reigning in financing the railway? even if the coming Summer sees the ‘rush for the beaches’ again surely they won’t close Gatelines to ensure crowds are through as quickly as possible socially distanced & many obviously travelling minus tickets hence revenue losses?

How do you see this panning out? I really can’t see us being called back & the costs incurred, as I say ‘The Covid effect’
 
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Skimpot flyer

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It’s no consolation I know, but there must be thousands of people across the country who face an uncertain future when social distancing ends. Clapham Junction alone employs well over 100 one-way system Marshalls for much of the week...
 

Ivor

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It’s no consolation I know, but there must be thousands of people across the country who face an uncertain future when social distancing ends. Clapham Junction alone employs well over 100 one-way system Marshalls for much of the week...
You’re right, I didn’t know 100 plus at CJ, huge station & a rabbits warren.

Since Xmas many stations where agency placed staffing chipped away week on week to now no agency staff, stations like Brighton, Eastbourne, Haywards Heath, Gatwick etc. East Croydon recently cut to two only per shift but it’s a station well staffed with Southern personnel.

In fairness trying to maintain social distancing on hot days at coastal stations was often met with abuse let alone when we were asked to politely remind wearing of masks following the Summer.

Yes an uncertain future goes on for huge numbers in so many industries.
 

Bantamzen

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It’s no consolation I know, but there must be thousands of people across the country who face an uncertain future when social distancing ends. Clapham Junction alone employs well over 100 one-way system Marshalls for much of the week...
Without wanting to sound too harsh, but the temporary jobs created to be "covid-safe" were just that, temporary. Those people who took them on must have known that they wouldn't last forever. For every one covid marshal there have been hundreds of full time jobs permanently lost.
 

Ivor

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Without wanting to sound too harsh, but the temporary jobs created to be "covid-safe" were just that, temporary. Those people who took them on must have known that they wouldn't last forever. For every one covid marshal there have been hundreds of full time jobs permanently lost.
Yes many were taken on to fill the ‘social distancing’ roles but many of us were already with this particular agency & had been up to 3 years covering roles as CSA, Gateline, Dispatch, solo working at smaller stations etc & those of us long termers have not been given shifts in the main back in those roles & advised accordingly due to footfall dramatically down during Covid restrictions & GTR not requiring additional staff.

Yes a number of students were taken on not at Uni & those & people like myself have always been classed as Temporary Staff Part Time & the positions are advertised as such.

Equally older people & I’m one have been grateful for any work as although a conversation for another day ageism in the workplace is alive & well & living in the UK even pre Covid so zero hour positions can help out.

I fully take on board & you are correct that many permanent jobs have been lost but students will return to Uni I hope but ‘the unemployable’ like myself have also taken a hammer blow & I don’t want to portray ‘woe is me’

Maybe when Boris announces his road map tomorrow in months to come if travel commences in any half decent numbers there could be a minority of us who will get an opportunity to get some work again & all business sectors will get an employment boost.
 
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Bessie

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Hello Ivor, how is life in the top left hand corner of Wales? We are all fine at Winkstead Hall and I still enjoy my trips out to Treddles Wharf - our open air carriages have been a great help during this Covid crisis.
 

Ivor

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Hello Ivor, how is life in the top left hand corner of Wales? We are all fine at Winkstead Hall and I still enjoy my trips out to Treddles Wharf - our open air carriages have been a great help during this Covid crisis.
All ok Bessie, drinking tea & waiting for Bo-Jo’s road map later to encourage travel so a bit of work commences again for Railway agency staff & of course other business colleagues starting to work again in station cafes, newsagents, M&S etc where located, we live in hope.
 

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matt_world2004

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I work with some agency staff . Back in February last year their hours were reduced to zero when the pandemic started hitting. They didn't get the offer of furlough (even though the could have ) and have basically been unemployed until at least September

It would have cost nothing to furlough them but the agency decided not to.
 

Watershed

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It would have cost nothing to furlough them but the agency decided not to.
At the beginning of furlough scheme, NI and pension contributions were covered, but that is no longer the case. So that is a cost they would now incur - of approx 10% of pay.

Even those who are on furlough accrue holiday entitlement at a rate of approx 12%, which must of course be paid at 100% of normal pay.
 

route101

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I started a job at a supermarket in December, the guy who done my interview said we will keep the contracted hours low over Xmas so we can keep yous on. With 1 week notice, staff that had started in last 2 months were giving one weeks notice for Xmas Eve. Shows you no job is safe. The company is still hiring temporary delivery drivers etc.
 

Ivor

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I started a job at a supermarket in December, the guy who done my interview said we will keep the contracted hours low over Xmas so we can keep yous on. With 1 week notice, staff that had started in last 2 months were giving one weeks notice for Xmas Eve. Shows you no job is safe. The company is still hiring temporary delivery drivers etc.
No job is safe & never has been, on a zero hour contract like mine (although still on the books) the agency when we do work can come to any of us at the end of a shift & say “thanks, that’s it with immediate effect you’re done” equally we can go to them & say the same but we were aware of that when we signed up.

We only know if we have work for the following week if it is emailed to us on a Friday, we can only hope if railway footfall increases then there may be an opportunity again.

Our work is really to fill GTR staff shortages or drafted in for ‘projects’ when big engineering works is on the go etc or latterly when social distancing & crowd control was available.

It is what it is & so many now with sleepless nights wondering how to pay their bills.

Hope the supermarket work continues for you :smile:

I work with some agency staff . Back in February last year their hours were reduced to zero when the pandemic started hitting. They didn't get the offer of furlough (even though the could have ) and have basically been unemployed until at least September

It would have cost nothing to furlough them but the agency decided not to.
We too have been refused furlough, told by company “can’t incur the costs”

I believe there is a small admin set up charge from what I googled & they still have to pay company NI & pension contribution where applicable.

At the beginning of furlough scheme, NI and pension contributions were covered, but that is no longer the case. So that is a cost they would now incur - of approx 10% of pay.

Even those who are on furlough accrue holiday entitlement at a rate of approx 12%, which must of course be paid at 100% of normal pay.
Interesting, I didn’t realise in the early days NI & pension were covered, no wonder my lot not keen now that they have to contribute.
 
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matt_world2004

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At the beginning of furlough scheme, NI and pension contributions were covered, but that is no longer the case. So that is a cost they would now incur - of approx 10% of pay.

Even those who are on furlough accrue holiday entitlement at a rate of approx 12%, which must of course be paid at 100% of normal pay.
They didn't get pension contributions anyway. They don't work during school holidays and other times of the year so we're classed as working part time.
 

TheBeard

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Amazingly, in a walk of life you'd expect to have been furiously busy, work dropped off massively.
Political agenda to damage agency staff, No one going on holidaywould you wait for a vaccine? Perhaps!!!) or in the right mind getting pregnant( and a simple inability to perform routine matters due to C19. Changing roles rapidly has been the only way out, though quite a few more have left/retired/emigrated...
 

Ivor

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Fact of life regarding agency work. I employ agency staff on an "as needed" basis and locum staff are well aware of the working situation

Now, as for "kittens" and "rabbit warren", that's no way to speak of the general public...
You are totally correct as I said in an earlier post we were aware when we signed up we applied to adverts for ‘Temporary part time staff’ unfortunately some of the people that signed up especially last Summer when certain coastal stations were extremely busy they couldn’t get their head around this sort of employment & viewed it incorrectly as a job long term even though those of us that had been on board a few years tried to explain otherwise.

The ‘general public’ (passengers) I shall only say the majority are fantastic but when the minority get in the groove it isn’t pleasant for rail staff but if the work returns would I take it up again? Yes definitely.
 
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TheBeard

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But let's say there are no applicants for a Respiratory Specialist(because there's been decades of cuts and there aren't any more) in a local hospital, a really needed resource for many people with Covid damage. Would you employ locums to shorten the waiting list to the right side of 6 months? Something doesn't smell right here. Seems like someone on high doesnt want this, but doesn't seem bothered by the consequences.
 

Islineclear3_1

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But let's say there are no applicants for a Respiratory Specialist(because there's been decades of cuts and there aren't any more) in a local hospital, a really needed resource for many people with Covid damage. Would you employ locums to shorten the waiting list to the right side of 6 months? Something doesn't smell right here. Seems like someone on high doesnt want this, but doesn't seem bothered by the consequences.

That is a bit different from manning ticket barriers at Eastbourne station or helping to maintain social distancing on a sunny weekend at Brighton station

Using your specific example, yes I would employ a locum Respiratory Specialist to bring down the waiting list. In my speciality, I have been using locum staff to cover additional weekend work because the regular staff are burnt out by Friday and need a rest at the weekend. Our waiting list for OPD appointments and elective surgery is rather long as one might expect
 
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