Forty skilled RIW labourers on Canterbury Station
By Daniel Green
In its current incarnation, Perfect Labour Hire is a fairly new entity. So it’s promising to know that esteemed rail works are becoming a staple for the division – most recently the Canterbury Station Metro upgrade for Haslin.
No matter what anyone tells you, the rail environment contains a set of unique hazards you won’t find anywhere else. Hence the hoops and hurdles in getting workers through the rigmarole to get them physically on site. So when Haslin reached out to PLH GM Tim Fitzgibbon in early May this year regarding forty skilled RIW labourers for a weekend possession later in the month, experience told Tim he needed to mobilise fairly quickly. With his trusted Perfect Labour Hire wingmen Andrew Cussen and Jose Dominguez fully briefed, the three set about the monumental task of allocating manpower.
Allocating & manpower.
For two innocent words this is not as simple as it sounds. We’re not talking about finding the workers – that’s the easy part. It’s the compliance documentation that’s the challenge. Not only do rail workers need to hold the Safely Access the Rail Corridor qualification, they have to hold a current Cat 3 medical, a white card with the NSW Government Safe Work logo [online white cards are rejected], a Track Machine Operator ticket for machines they may be operating [which means they need the original non-rail ticket as well and both need to be current] and have Perfect Labour Hire as their primary employer in the RIW system – all of this needs to go through all the checks and balances by the RIW portal staff. And when you’re forty labourers deep that’s a lot of compliance work. Imagine if there were concurrent possessions happening the same weekend? Tim and Andrew ain’t no quitters, so they dug in and got to work including filling any missing manpower gaps with their stringent recruitment process. One of the many strengths of the PLH division is Andrew’s OCD , his thorough understanding of the RIW portal and how to successfully navigate it.
As the weeks came and went the stable of allocated workers grew and grew, and with days to spare Tim happily reported to Haslin Site Supervisor Paul O’Neill that they could 100% fill the order. Tim and Andrew allocated forty of their best to the possession with another five as back-ups.
At midnight on Friday 28th June the first twenty Perfect shirts scanned their RIW cards in, heard the PO brief and a platoon of bright orange made its way up to the platform. The works: hand digging a trench in one piece dust suits for hazardous materials. Perfect Concrete Care workers fired up the demo saws and ate into the asphalt in laser-straight cuts. This spoil was collected in bulker bags and palletised. The boys broke out the picks and shovels and got to digging. Digging in compacted soil is hard graft. We’ve all done it. But digging in compacted soil for twelve hours in a one-piece suit when your shifts starts at midnight is next level. At the end of a workday like that you’d forgive a bloke for being irritable. But in true Perfect style those nightshift boys were in high spirits. Then again Perfect boys almost always are.
Yours truly was on the dayshift and hust like the lads before us we scanned in, took part in the PO brief and got to work. Myself and one of new PLH workers Tyrone were spared twelve hours on the shovel, instead working with the Telehandler – slinging acres of re-bar for Sunday’s pour, erecting hundreds of metres of temporary fencing, moving scores of water barriers. Usual possession stuff.
As the weekend wore into the second shifts our energy waned. As it would. But as someone who was constantly within earshot of all our boys there was not one complaint from anyone in a Perfect shirt – we stayed buoyant as time marched towards Sunday night. With the hazardous material completely excavated and our dinner break behind us we all pitched in for the last big push: readying the station for Canterbury’s Monday morning commuters. There was no way we wanted to be the ones to tell Sydney Trains it was us that caused an unannounced Trains Replace Buses schedule. So we were all in: ensuring the temporary fencing was rail spec and secure; the trench was weatherproofed and delineated; the bulker bags of asphalt and spoil were relocated to the laydown yard via the hi-rail crane and Telehandler; all tools, generators & construction materials were locked up inside the now defunct platform buildings and both platforms were pressure washed to within an inch of their lives. At twenty minutes to midnight Paul confirmed we were done.
A few days later Tim and Andrew checked in with Haslin. Honest feedback can be hard to hear, especially on the rare occasion its not to the dizzying heights you’re expecting. But if they were uneasy they needn’t be. Haslin were super enthused about how the Perfect boys worked and behaved. They acknowledged it was a tough job but that we did it as requested, to the design and with a smile on our face.
You can’t get a more glowing endorsement than that.