Survey reveals ScotRail staff are angry and demoralised

ScotRail has admitted things are “not good enough” after a staff survey revealed “too many” felt irritated and just 1 per cent said they were empowered in their roles, The Scotsman has learned.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 10:10 am
The train operator has pledged to change culture after the poor satisfaction results. Picture: John Devlin

Chief operating officer Angus Thom has pledged to “change the culture of our business” because “for too many people, and for too long, there is a sense that nothing will change”.

In an internal memo, he wrote: “We should all be able to come to work feeling we are trusted to get on with the job and deliver for our customers.

“Making improvements in this critical area is something we will address in 2020.”

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Mr Thom said although the workforce had grown by more than 800 since Abellio had taken over the franchise in 2015, “not every part of the business is currently feeling the benefit of that”.

He also acknowledged frustration with a uniform order backlog, but said the company was “chipping away” at it.

And despite the arrival of new trains, “significant challenges” remained because of “frustrating delays” with the refurbishment of the inter-city High Speed Train fleet.

However, the Your Voice survey also showed 54 per cent of those taking part would recommend Glasgow-based ScotRail as a good place to work, and the same proportion said they were given recognition for a job well done.

Mr Thom said those were “strong foundations on which we will build in 2020”.

He said a business plan would “give us all a much better sense of where we are going”, while senior managers would meet staff more regularly to get direct feedback.

Kevin Lindsay, of train drivers’ union Aslef, said: “Abellio constantly changing one poor director with another (34 in total) has led the franchise to suffer poor leadership which has impacted in extremely poor staff morale.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, which includes office staff, said: “It’s good to see management talking about coming down out of their ivory towers to talk to staff but they should have been listening to our union from the start.”

Mick Hogg, Scotland regional organiser for the RMT, the largest rail union, said: “The [self-titled] ‘best railway Scotland has ever had’ is a shambles - this lot have a licence from the Scottish Government to fail - chance after chance after chance, yet we still see no measures being taken to end the franchise and put in a public sector bid.”

A ScotRail spokesman said: “ScotRail values each and every member of staff, and their feedback is invaluable in helping to shape the way we do business.

“The annual Your Voice survey gives our people the opportunity to tell us what it’s like to work for ScotRail, and it’s important to get this feedback so that we can continue to improve.

“Like every year, this year’s results have given us insight in to how our people are feeling, and it’s encouraging to see that the majority of respondents would recommend ScotRail as a good place to work.”