||Issue No. 238||17 September 2004|
Interview: True Matilda
Politics: State of Play
Industrial: Capital Dilemmas
Unions: Rhodes Scholars
National Focus: Rennovating the Lodge
International: People Power
Economics: A Bit Rich
History: Mine Shafts
Safety: Sick Of Fighting
Organising: Building a Wave
Poetry: Anger In The Bush(es)
Review: The Battle Of Algiers
Culture: The Word On The Street
The Locker Room
Invest In Dignity!
Mind Games Off The Rails
Rail Unions have notified a dispute with RailCorp over the driver being kept "off the road" as question marks remain about the validity of the ‘psychometric’ tests.
"The psychometric testing doesn't measure anything," says Unions NSW's Mark Morey. "They're using it on drivers and signallers who have made a mistake."
Unions NSW have called on RailCorp to re-instate two rail workers who have been stood down and suspend all psychometric tests until the NSW Premier's expert party report on what tests should be used and the appropriate way to use them.
"We have to make sure they're the right tests," says Morey. "We don't want this used as a disciplinary tool."
Morey alleges that RailCorp is slowly trying to expand psychometric testing to other safety critical areas such as electricians, guards and station assistants.
"It was not relevant to my duties," says Chris Cleary of the tests. "My career is on the line over this."
Cleary, a 16-year veteran of train driving, has been off the road for 14 months and was forced into undergoing the test after an incident in July 2003 known as a SPAD or Signal Passed At Danger.
It was Cleary's first SPAD in eight years. Immediately following the incident Cleary claims he "did the right thing" by immediately stopping the train and reporting it to the signalbox. He was told to take his train back to Blacktown.
"If it's not convenient to take the driver off the train they will leave the driver on until they've returned to somewhere where there is a relief driver," says Cleary.
Cleary was forced to attend the RailCorp training facility at Petersham following the incident where he was first tested with a SCAT test, involving crossing out letters on a page as instructed using speed and accuracy.
Then he underwent a personality test where he had to answer questions about what was most like him and least like him.
Next he underwent a test where he had to pick out the pattern in a line of objects.
The final test involved 16 modules using the IntegNeuro, a trade marked product for "cognitive profiling" owned by the multi-national Brain Resource Company.
The tests included the Mackworth Clock Test, a device that was used to test the aptitude of spitfire pilots during the Second World War.
The psychometric testing is conducted by an organisational psychologist who has never driven a train and only been in a driver's cabin a handful of times.
Cleary is unimpressed with RailCorp's use of psychometric testing to evaluate drivers and says that morale is plummeting in the organisation, which has been allegedly suffering from a well publicised driver shortage.
RailCorp has claimed that it is actively recruiting to combat the shortage of train drivers.
"Blokes are going across to private freight companies," says Cleary. "I think they're losing more than they are gaining."
Cleary would like to see RailCorp address real safety critical issues such as fatigue, maintaining running equipment and the long kilometres and lack of breaks that are being demanded of drivers.
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