As all Northern Line signal staff knows, our signal manager hates contractors with a passion and is always devising schemes to get them kicked off the line. What do these contractors actually do? Well, the way the PPP contract is set out we get paid for maintaining our signalling assets. This means that additional work supporting the permanent way in activities such as re-railing takes staff away from carrying out maintenance, thus creating a backlog and getting hit with penalty charges as well as increasing the likelihood of failures. So in answer to what do the contractors do, they do the work that we cannot afford to do. In essence they provide a service.
The latest hair brained scheme of our signal manager is to allow unqualified staff to cover re-railing works forcing the contractors off our line. Not only is this counter productive but it is downright dangerous and highly illegal. At present they (management) are drawing up plans that will on paper have safeguards built in but in reality will be anything but safe. A few years ago the powers that be created a new grade called an 'Auto Tech' these new 'mini' technicians would only be allowed to work in basic automatic signalling areas. Anyone with half a brain could see that this new grade was worthless and wouldn't work. Well surprise surprise we was right and management was wrong (again) and it became a nightmare to find work for the auto techs. Unfortunately we are now stuck with this grade and unscrupulous staff have seen it as an easy way to earn good money and do nothing.
Now if it is difficult to find work for the very basic and limited of signal staff what chance does this unqualified 'Re-railing (technician??)' have? As usual it will be the line staff placed squarely in the middle of this petty and childish attitude of our signal manager to contractors.