From Monday 26th September, Southern Rail has announced they will begin running trains again between Seaford and Lewes during the day after their near total cancellation of this route over the summer. 341 daily weekday train services were cancelled as an emergency timetable was introduced to bring some predictability to what can only be described as a chaotic period of last minute cancellations and alterations. The government and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) put the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of guards, citing ‘unusually high levels’ of staff ‘sickness’. They hoped to play on people’s prejudices against unions and blue-collar workers in what were mainly Conservative party constituencies. Guards and the RMT union always denied there was any unofficial action and have repeatedly flagged up GTR’s failure to recruit enough staff to run the service. ‘Staff sickness’ was GTR’s attempt to deflect attention away from their skeleton staffing levels being exposed. There is always a high turnover of staff within the guard grade: some go driving, others become managers, there are always people retiring and then there are the secondments. These people are not being replaced as GTR strive to cut costs as much as possible. For those guards still putting up with the job the reality was, and is, they are reluctant to work their rest days (days off from work) as company attacks on themselves and their families have destroyed any goodwill which may have remained. It is a poisonous environment. Even as recently as last week Angie Doll, GTR Passenger Services Director, appeared on television to contribute more to the animosity by claiming that ‘additional healthcare professionals’ had been employed to get staff back to work!
(You can here Angie Doll be economical with the truth here)
We can now reveal evidence that shows what we have known all along – GTR’s ‘staff sickness excuse’ is a lie.
Moreover it also indicates that shortage of staff is the key issue behind GTR’s failure to run a reliable train service.
Rather than helping ‘ill’ staff to recover more quickly and return to work, the real reason that the service is being reinstated is due to managers being taken out of their offices and trained to work the Seaford route. Three managers (others?) from Brighton are being seconded to work as guards for at least six to eight weeks. Reproduced below are emails from Southern managers to their staff explaining the situation. All names have been removed. The question that remains to be answered is what on earth do these managers actually do that allows them to be moved to another job for two months? On this evidence, very little!
Slowly, the Department for Transport and GTR lies are unravelling. If you have anything to contribute that can accelerate this process then please contact us at: itsnotabouthedoors[AT]gmail.com (only 1 t between about and the – abouthe)
Subject: Changes from Monday 25th September 2016
PLEASE EITHER PRINT OFF OR LEAVE IN INBOX SO ALL STAFF CAN READ.
As you know we have been running an emergency timetable for a period of time and as a business we really need to look at re-introducing the full timetable as soon as possible. As you have all seen in the press the Seaford line is currently only served during the peaks then buses at all other times which has not been well received by our passengers.
Now as you know during the recent strikes a group of managers have been trained to run trains during these days to ensure we provide a service to our passengers. With this in mind and so we can re-start the Seaford Service it has been decided that this will happen on the branch line so we can start running a normal service to Seaford. So from Monday 25th September 2016 for a period of six to eight weeks myself and Xxxxx Xxxxxx will seconded to the conductor role to cover these vital services.
Now because of this it will impact the area and how its run, so the following changes will be made from this date to cover myself and Xxxxxx whilst we assist the business putting this service back in.
Xxxxx Xxxxxx Station Manager Haywards Heath will become Acting Group Station Manager Brighton Mainline.
Whilst Xxxxxx is away Xxxxx Xxxxxx will take on Haywards Heath which means she covers Haywards Heath to Preston Park.
Xxxxx Xxxxxx and Xxxxx Xxxxxx will remain in current position with no changes.
With Xxxxx gone from Brighton the Station Manager responsibilities will change whilst she is away with the following.
Xxxxx Xxxxxx will carry on with the STLs, Maintenance Teams, Advantix Staff and will also take over line management of the Sales Team including SPTL & Floorwalkers.
Xxxxx Xxxxxx will carry on with the Area GPRs and will also take the Platform Staff at Brighton.
Xxxxx Xxxxxx will carry on with the Gateline, Fares to Pay and Customer Care Team.
Now I know for all the staff at Brighton the big question is what happens to the consultation I issued in February 2016, now I’m hoping to able to attend the company council meeting next week but after this it will be put on hold until I return in late November or early December. We will keep you fully updated.
Those stations affected by TSE, now I hope you have all been briefed by your line managers that this is currently on hold for six months until we have done a trail at eight stations, obviously you will be kepted fully updated if anything changes.
Now I know you all will but please support the managers through these times as it will be challenging for them as we are currently two short and this will make it four short. If you have any concerns or would like to talk this through then please speak with your line manager who will clarify this email further for you.
I will see you all over the next few months and you will be informed when myself and Xxxxxx are returning.
Group Station Manager
Go Via Thameslink Railway (GTR) Ltd
Tel: 07xxx xxxxxx
Go Via Thameslink Railway Ltd
Brighton Station, Queens Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3XP
Registered in England and Wales No. 07934306. Registered office: 3rd Floor, 41-51 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6EE