05 September 2016

UPDATE 1: 13th September 2016 - scroll down!

Southeastern blocked me on twitter

But not for long.

One of my twitter clients showed some odd activity on DMs marked as 2 days ago (as of Monday morning - so occurring sometime on Saturday)

I went to look for why my train was slow down the Bexleyheath line and found that my account had been blocked by Southeastern

Southeastern blocked me

Why?

Who knows why

Their ‘rules of engagement’ surrounding blocking state:

We will always be polite and considerate to our followers and ask that you communicate with us in the same way. We won’t engage with Tweets that are abusive. In cases of repeated / sustained abuse, we may have no choice but to block the account(s), but we hope this won’t be necessary.

Abuse leads to blocking?

Have I abused them? No

However I did call one of their parent companies out for lying in their recent Annual report, where they state:

Living Wage claim

Which is untrue, as I’ve raised in April 2016 - here on Southeastern Rail Action Group.

As well as in my own personal blog in August 2015 - also covered by the Evening Standard’s website

I very rarely delete my tweets (unless I’ve totally screwed up on grammar to make the tweet unintelligible) so you can view my tweets to them in the run up to the incident on my twitter profile

Am I making this up?

Of course not, and here are extracts from the website and the job description are below.

We have:

  • A full time role at 37 hours a week

  • The spec clearly calls out the apprentices as ‘employees’

  • The rate is £132.10 per week - so £3.57 per hour

Are Go-Ahead group lying or are they unaware of the practices that David Statham and Southeastern are taking to employ cheap labour?

I have this evening mailed the Go-Ahead group for clarification on this and will post their response - if they respond.

In summary

I am now unblocked by @se_railway - after many on twitter tweeted them to ask why I was blocked.

Maybe it was the typical ‘fat finger’ problem that has caused them to like some tweets I’ve written about them, in a rather sarcastic tone.

Or maybe they were fed up of me outing their practices.

Either way, being blocked on twitter was a far better experience than spending 30 mins sat opposite David Statham, Mike Gibson, and John Till (the guy who runs the team who, amongst other things, runs the twiitter feed) and getting belittled, and told off for bringing humour to the lives of the hundreds and thousands that have to deal with this pitiful service day in and day out.

I don’t miss that.

And I won’t miss Govia and David Statham’s mob when they’re finally turfed out of this failing franchise.

The job ads

From the website:

Apprentice Receptionist job posting - website

And an extract from the full document decribing the role:

Apprentice Receptionist job posting - doc

Update 1: September 13th 2016

I wanted to give this a bit of time, but after being goaded on Twitter by Southeastern’s John Till, I found a bit of time to update.

I got a response from Go-Ahead saying that my query, about the wage being paid to apprentices being under the £8.25/hour that they claim, will be passed onto Southeastern

On 12th September I got a response from Matthew (Senior Customer Relations Officer) at Southeastern, and whilst I can’t quote verbatim the words he used, I will summarise: he avoided the question of hourly wage for apprentices at Govia Southeastern, instead citing the benefits that they receive, and that when permanent they go onto earn higher than the National Living Wage. Matthew also claims that apprentices aren’t permanent employees.

But, wait a second, what are the claims from Go-Ahead? I quote David Brown, Group Chief Executive of Go-Ahead, in their annual report:

Are you committed to the voluntary Living Wage?

“We are pleased to have introduced the voluntary ‘Living Wage’ across the Group, ensuring all employees, regardless of age, earn at least £8.25 per hour, exceeding the government’s ‘National Living Wage’ requirements. However, voluntary Living Wage recommended-increases in future years could add to wage inflation, so we will always continue to review this.”

ALL employees, regardless of age.

I have responded to Matthew from Southeastern with the following, and will update if the company replies:

Hi Matthew,

With respect, your email does not answer the question that I put to Go-Ahead group:

In their current annual report they claim:

“We are pleased to have introduced the voluntary ‘Living Wage’ across the Group, ensuring all employees, regardless of age, earn at least £8.25 per hour, exceeding the government’s ‘National Living Wage’ requirements. However, voluntary Living Wage recommended-increases in future years could add to wage inflation, so we will always continue to review this.”

I draw your attention to ‘all employees’ - where no discrimination has been made to permanent/temporary/apprentice, as has been in previous annual reports from your parent company.

Are you able to answer the question clearly: Are Southeastern apprentices paid at least £8.25 per hour?

Regards, Phil

Until then, I can only assume, that by artfully avoiding my question, some apprentices are still paid as little as £3.57 an hour, and that the quote from the Group Chief Executive has not been properly checked, and is verging on providing untruths to current and potential investors of Go-Ahead group.



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Southeastern Railway Action Group
Dartford Rail Travellers' Association
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Dartford Rail Travellers Association (Twitter)