Customer Service Managers: Side With Us, Don't Fuck With Us!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 01/07/2016 - 18:59

There's much to object to in the new grading system imposed as part of "Fit for the Future", not least the fact that we're all now doing work previously done by the grade above us for no extra money. But one particularly invidious aspect is the delegation of disciplinary power down to "shop floor" level. With Customer Service Managers (CSMs), most of whom are former Station Supervisors, now empowered to discipline other staff, we're now working alongside people who can directly discipline us for the first time.

This throws up problems from a union point of view, as it means reps might now be expected to represent someone who could discipline them (or, if the rep is a CSM, represent someone they might be later expected to discipline!).

CSMs are coming under pressure from Area Managers to act less like Station Supervisors, and more like managers. In some locations they're being pressured to stay away from operational work and spend their time trawling through colleagues' attendance history looking for "patterns" to hang disciplinary interviews on. Elsewhere, they're having to continue doing operational work to support Customer Service Supervisors, who have been given inadequate control room training, but are also expected to work on administrative tasks such as coverage, discipline, attendance management, performance and development, staff training...

Some CSMs are admirably resisting the pressure from above, refusing to wield disciplinary power in the often heavy-handed, authoritarian, and arbitrary way, particularly over sickness/attendance, that LU seems to favour (for more on this, click here). But a few have unfortunately, let's say, "taken" to the role, clearly enjoying the opportunity to police and discipline their colleagues. This is leading to resentment between the grades.

Any future strikes on stations will rely on unity between different grades of station staff, and CSMs will undoubtedly come under pressure to see themselves as part of management, with a special responsibility to keep stations open and break strikes. Our unions must equip CSMs to resist, and not be management shills! We need their operational experience and expertise on the frontline, running stations, not hidden away in back offices looking for reasons to give other staff disciplinary warnings.

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