Mr Bowden (Union Is cause of Rail Misery) is failing to look below the surface when he blames the RMT Union for causing the misery being inflicted on local rail users.
However, the elephant in the room in this sorry saga is actually the Department for Transport and in particular, Peter Wilkinson, the DfT’s franchising director. Mr Wilkinson is on record as wanting a punch-up with the Rail Unions and that he would effectively be prepared to see Union members starved into submission. He would want the support of passengers during the inevitable disruption that would ensue.
Many believe that Greater Thameslink Railway (GTR) has engineered the current dispute on behalf of its DfT paymaster. The DfT and GTR knew that both the RMT and ASLEF oppose any extension of Driver Only Operation and GTR’s proposal in this regard was sure to provoke industrial action, giving Mr Wilkinson the punch-up he desires.
However, the issue is clouded as the DfT refuse to fully disclose what has been agreed between the Department and GTR.
Fortunately crowd funding has raised £25k to engage barristers to take the DfT to court to force key documents which should be in the public domain to be revealed.
Mr Bowden also claims conductors have been deliberately reporting sick by way of unofficial industrial action. However, if he looked further he would see the main problem now is a shortage of drivers. GTR took on the franchise with only 80% of the number needed, relying on overtime and rest-day working.
However, the company has alienated its train crew staff to the extent that most are no longer prepared to do this. Although the company says it is actively recruiting drivers, my understanding is that the company is losing drivers just as quickly as morale is so low (one driver told me ‘the sooner we get rid of this lot (GTR) the better’). Therefore nothing is going to improve until the company stops being the fall guy for the DfT and makes a serious effort to improve its industrial relations.
Please stand by your call for GoVia to be stripped of the GTR franchise. Despite the DfT twice reducing its performance targets, GTR still languishes in last place of all 23 Train Operating Companies. In the meantime, Charles Horton (CEO of GTR) continues to pick-up his rumoured £400k+ salary package. Any other CEO of a company performing so poorly would have offered his resignation by now. And don’t let’s forget that Claire Perry, the previous Rail Minister, did resign. By all accounts she was fed-up with defending the indefensible, with GTR a running sore.
Potters Lane, Burgess Hill
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