Monday, July 16, 2007

NSW Govt Weighs in on RailCorp Culture

Morris Iemma probably wishes he was still on holidays. He returns to work on Sunday, usually a quiet day, and has to deal with a multitude of problems with Railcorp. Problems with management; problems with unions; problems with maintenance; problems with voters; and pesky reporters asking awkward questions.

His response:
"Enough is enough - taking pot shots, blaming each other...
I make the point - the war's gone on for too long and it is time for reform and change...
Those that don't want to go along with reform will get left behind."

Close enough to a politician's dummy-spit. NSW Liberal Opposition Leader rightly said "there is no time frame, there is no real preparedness to set deadlines for the union and management to meet." Well ... no. Morris Iemma is still working out which of his antagonists to deal with first:
  • Railcorp management: allegedly abrasive; allegedly working nights and weekends to rake in the penalty rates; and ready to blame the unions.
  • Unions: resistant to change, with a history of sometimes poor work practices; and antagonistic towards management, just because it's management.
  • Treasurer Michael Costa, whose response to possible government accountability and responsibility was to suggest selling the maintenance section so that the government can avoid blame. As an aside, the money could be used to show a nice budget surplus. Wouldn't he like to brag about that!
Let me help clarify the steps to finding a possible solution:
  • Develop a public transport plan. Yes, I know the current plan is to build more private roads, with tolls going to private companies, but public transport IS important, does need financial support, and does need a cohesive public transport plan.
  • You need to bring the interested parties together. Use neutral ground. Set an agenda and distribute it before the meeting. Invite people who are willing to work to improve the culture in Railcorp
  • Forget blaming: it is counter-productive.
  • Investigate and adopt appropriate ISO quality standards.
  • Accept that governments providing a service expect to not make a profit.
  • If you have no one working for the government who is competent at helping people find and move towards accepting solutions, hire outside people.
Rushing to sell rail maintenance, or any other section, to make a "fist full of dollars" and avoid accountability and responsibility is not good government.

Voters elected you to govern responsibly, to provide appropriate services (including rail), and to be accountable. Get on with it.