the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur
plonq

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Conducting myself accordingly

I dodged a minor bullet at work this week. On Tuesday, our managing director mentioned that there was a conductor training course taking place this coming Monday in my town, and she really wanted to sign me up for it, even if was very short notice. It also happened to coincide with a week of vacation I had planned for the end of the month. Taking vacation has turned into a bit of a chore for me this year because I am in a very small department, and they won't let more than two of us go at any given time. I also have to plan it around the weeks when I am covering support.

The company has been encouraging its management and other non-union staff to take conductor training. Their official reason for it is that we all benefit from a diverse and knowledgeable workforce who have a more holistic understanding of our operations from end to end. Naturally it is a voluntary thing - nobody is going to force you into conductor training.

It's like a build-your-own-adventure, where one page has you taking the training, and the other page has you writing your resume. But the page you turn to is your choice.

It is a bit ironic that I have been avoiding this training for as long as I have, given that it's what I originally hired on for decades ago. I put in an application, specifically stating that I was looking to work as a trainman. They did not have any classes available at the time, but they convinced me to work in the office until one came available. It took almost thirty years, but apparently they have space for me in one of the classes now.

I was supposed to enter the course this coming Monday. I changed around my vacation, and atara got ready to start cancelling hotel reservations we'd made.

On Wednesday, I was informed that I was officially signed up for the training class.

On Thursday, they cancelled the class. I like to feel that I am at least partly responsible for that... somehow. Maybe they saw my name on the list and went, "hell no, bitches."

On the one hand, I think I would benefit from the training. I am familiar with a lot of the operating rules anyway - you can't work for a company for this long and not have some of that rub off on you - and I could certainly benefit from some less sedentary work. On the other hand, this is very transparently strike training. They want to have their entire non-union staff up to speed on how to run the trains in the event of a possible future work stoppage.

This would not normally bother me too much. I am actually qualified to do track maintenance, car inspections, and (once they eventually put me through this course), train operations. That said, the unions signed a five year contract the last time out, and I my earliest eligible retirement date is less than three years away, so it is iffy if I would ever be tapped for duty in another work stoppage.

The problem is that they have been utilizing qualified management staff to fill gaps when they are short of bodies due to illness or vacation. I've been hearing horror stories of people being pulled from management posts in finance to sweep switches in remote locations. There have been a few folks in my office who have been ferried off to north Saskatchewan for weeks at a time to run way freights because they were short a crew.

I like to think that my work is valuable enough that my director would not release me for frivolous work assignments like that. I have picked up a skill set that is in pretty high demand at the moment, so even though I am not exactly thrilled to go in to work every day, at least I don't feel surprised every time my pass card works on the front door.

I moved my vacation back to its previous slot. This all went down quickly enough that atara had not got around to cancelling our hotels yet, so we are carrying on with our original plans. On the plus side, I earned some good brownie points with my managers for being accommodating enough to move my vacation on very short notice. They do tend to remember things like that over the medium term at least.
Tags: conductor, training, work
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