The ticket-collector stopped and chatted to the two men at the opposite table, and of course I earwigged. They are on a work to rule, at the moment. The management is dreadful. Their staffing levels are stupid and wrong. You can’t provide a decent service, he is ashamed. They have got the stops wrong, too. This is an express, and South of Swanston it provides a suburban rail service, which would not be so bad if they had suburban rail prices.
There is all this disruption for the 
-Some of us remember the Bedford electrification, says the older man. It was going to be so much faster, and we put up with it for five years, and it was slower than before.
When they get onto card readers, I join in the conversation. The man is willing enough, and explains how Oyster is outdated. Payment by proximity, rather than touch, of your “Barclaycard”. Barclays was the first bank to provide credit cards, and in the 70s that is what we called it.
The ticket collector moves on, and we discuss Government computer systems. They used to be in the union, and now they run a small charity for rail workers. The fact that they are wearing the same tie is a coincidence.
-We saw a closed shop agreement, from the 90s, just once. We looked at it as if it was the Domesday book.
-It worked. The management and the union got together, and agreed where a worker would go. If you were cleaning the toilets, you knew you would be moved on eventually. Now, they get immigrants to clean the toilets.
He insists that his office cleaner gets paid the Living wage for the time in his office. They exchanged emails when it went up last month. The contractor said he would rather pay that but his other customers would not stand for it.
I have done employment tribunals, and he has seen them from both sides. Employers can come out biting scratching and gouging, I say, and tell of the forger.
He has a discipline problem now. The man is not doing the work. All the other workers know it, and they want rid of him too. He just draws a salary. He claimed to have gone to a station in Norfolk, which is a day’s work, with the travel- only that station is unmanned!
-But that would be gross misconduct, claiming to do work you have not done.
- who did the investigation could not make it stick.
Odd: certain gross misconduct, with insufficient evidence, which still definitely happened. He tells me of how the poor employer can get caught if he puts a foot wrong with the procedure, which is not quite true: the employer can “lose”, but still not pay damages.
-One man thought he would take us for thousands, and all he got was a reference!
I had a woman who took a reference. She was pregnant, and could not face the hearing. She was angry that the defence said she was a sulky teenager who never did any work, and the reference said she was a saint in human form.
-That is very unfair to the next employer, he says.
But from spending time with her, I thought the reference was more likely correct than the defence.