As you saw fit to publish GTR’s statement about the number of Southern guards currently off sick, I think it would be fair to also give space to the other side of the story.
Many people feel this situation was set up by GTR, either through vindictiveness or ineptitude.
The company has already been the subject of concern in parliament due to their bad management and there has been an Early Day Motion lodged at Westminster in which seven of our MPs take issue with GTR’s treatment of their staff.
There were two one-day strikes by guards, both of which GTR extended to almost 48 hours in Hastings, giving themselves plenty of opportunity to make station announcements and press releases publicly criticising their staff.
Before the strikes took place, they sent letters to staff telling them they’d lose two days pay for one day of strike (so what’s the point of coming to work?) and that they’d lose travel cards, car park permits, the option to swap shifts, and possibly redundancy pay if they took part in the dispute.
One can see why the idea of taking time off sick rather than participating in strikes would be an obvious response but in fact, it is equally likely that many guards are unfit to work due to stress – theirs is a difficult job at the best of times, and deprived of shift-swaps, often impossible to fit around family life.
Someone who is being barracked by bosses at work and handling often difficult situations on the trains while public announcements blame them for cancellations or delays is not going to perform well or feel fit, especially if they have to start work at 4.30am one day, and finish after midnight another.
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