Metro is starting the sectorisation program backwards - driver route knowledge should be the last thing to go in a properly laid-out program that is being done for the right reasons (timetable reliability and rollingstock management).
But Metro is doing this for three completely different reasons:
- To try and break the RTBU by making sure that every group of drivers has 4 other ones to compete with when it comes to bargaining arrangements and industrial action
- Because changing around personnel is the quickest and easiest thing that management can do - and it distracts from the larger problems with infrastructure and rollingstock management that they seem to prefer stay in the 'too-hard' basket
- Because at the end of the day Metro's owners want to end up with their own little permanent, privately-owned railway kingdom in Melbourne - and having 5 'networks' instead of 1 to bid for gives them 4 extra chances when the political climate is right for them to do so.
I have a lot of sympathy for people like hot-axle-box and others who are fighting for better conditions in their workplace - but as someone who has seen conditions in my own industry deteriorate over the years it appears to be the wave of the future that most jobs will be lower paid and casual, particularly those that are unskilled or semi-skilled (because they're easy to replace with 457's). Things like penalty rates, sick leave and holidays are going the way of the horse and cart.
Metro are doing the government's dirty work for them in that they are turning what was once a 'job for life' into a McJob, where you could potentially be forced onto a casual roster where you can be replaced at a moment's notice, like being in a labour hire company. It's a universal trend and it's sold to us now-days as 'you are an entrepreneur, not an employee'.
This stuff is not confined to train drivers, there's all sorts of industries now where you have terrible conditions, no sick pay and no paid holidays... that's why I think ultimately the RTBU are pushing sh*t up a hill if they think they can stop this from occurring - the destruction of conditions is part of the reason why Metro were bought in to begin with and if they do the job well they'll be rewarded with another big, lucrative contract when the time comes again.