Friday, March 09, 2007

Rail Strike Mayhem

Typically, the only day in ages I needed to use the rail network was yesterday when the signallers were on strike. There was still a reduced service between home and Edinburgh which meant we were not put to too much inconvenience.

Others weren't so lucky as there were no trains beyond Stirling.

I always like to look into the circumstances of these disputes and look at the behaviour of the participants. What I like to see is genuine negotiation and continued attempts to resolve the situation.

I was disappointed to see that the RMT had refused to go to conciliation. What can they possibly lose by sitting round a table?

However, I was truly horrified by a quote from the Union which included the phrase "Network Rail have been drafting in scab managers". I have always felt sorry for the way strikebreakers across the history of disputes have been villified. I guess it's the Liberal in me, valuing the rights of the individual. If a Union has a good case it will win the hearts and minds of its members. That doesn't apply in this case, but the use of the word scab is offensive and inflammatory and it should be sent to Room 101 immediately.

You don't see industrial unrest in organisations where employees are valued and where there is a healthy, positive culture. Large public sector monoliths are havens for bullying, archaic, ineffective management styles and general discontent. Both management and workforce should put their minds to improving the culture of their organisation and start behaving like adults in the way they resolve disputes.

Public name calling is a turn off - stop doing it and sort your issues out. I certainly couldn't afford to lose 6 days' income in a month - it must be a nightmare for the union members out on strike. I don't think that unions always serve their members' interests well and it's time they committed themselves to finding a speedy, satisfactory resolution.

1 comment:

Paul Robertson said...

One thing that really irritates me is First ScotRail's attempts to come over as the innocent victim in all of this. Their incompetence shouldn't go unremarked upon.

Network Rail is, in effect, a monopoly supplier of paths and infrastructure to First ScotRail. Quite simply, if Network Rail doesn't deliver its part of the deal, First ScotRail's business immediately stops in its tracks (sorry, I couldn't resist that!).

So here's the big question for Mary Dickson: what kind of business is it which buys mission-critical services from a monopoly supplier without insisting on a cast-iron guarantee from them of continuity of supply?

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