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Trajectoire 2003 is an internal Connex company project designed as a management method to involve staff members in the new tram scheme and in the consequent changes in the Bordeaux urban network.
In 2002, among the 1800 employees of the company, 1300 people were employed as bus drivers.
Inaugurating the tram system at the end of 2003 supposed that a large group of bus drivers would be able to combine tram and bus driving activities, instead of performing bus driving exclusively.
The Polyvalence 2003 scheme was therefore set up to accompany the introduction of the tram by monitoring employment and training solutions and improvements.
With Polyvalence 2003, the objective of the Connex company in Bordeaux was to combine a social aim with a technical objective.
Finally, the objective is to prepare for the introduction of the tram and find motivated drivers for it, and to involve employees at an early stage of the process in order to avoid social conflicts and difficulties with recruitment.
Connex Bordeaux is in charge of the whole city's urban transport (27 municipalities – 671 000 inhabitants), covering a network of 1 000 kilometers with about 540 buses. The company employs almost 1 800 people, of whom 1 250 are drivers.
The challenge facing the company Connex in Bordeaux in 2003 was the development of the urban light railway as the best urban transport solution.
Based on the need for a multimodal transport system within the city, the tram was promoted in a global context of urban modernization and technical challenge. To be ready on time for the beginning of the tram's three lines, the urban transport operator initiated several internal company projects to involve its personnel in the change.
Introducing the tram in Bordeaux (city and suburbs) involved Connex Bordeaux having more than 200 drivers capable of driving a tram, where for a considerable time the company had employed bus drivers exclusively. The new system has required the recruitment of 175 drivers capable of driving both trams and buses, and bus drivers already employed by the company have been trained to drive a tram. All the company's staff, and more particularly the drivers, have been kept informed of the project, the aim being to forestall any fears or reticence they may have and to reassure them. Trade unions and individual staff members were not equally ready for this important change.
Trajectoire 2003 involved preparing employees for the introduction of the tram at the end of 2003, in terms of human resources and technical constraints.Emphasis was placed on keeping employees and the social partners informed.
After a general audit of the conditions for introducing the tram and its image in the drivers' opinion at the end of 2002, emphasis has been put during 2003 on the circulation of information from the managers' level to the drivers' level and to the social partners, in order to guarantee a high level of transparency and a step-by-step process in introducing the tram.
Ticketing, presentation of the tram, explanations of the new organization - all the themes were mentioned during the training days organized by the company. Introducing ticketing on the network involved providing training for all on-board employees (approximately 1300 people) and ticket inspectors. In groups of 20 over a four-month period, all operational staff spent one day learning about what the tram project involved and the opportunities it offered.
The day was divided into two parts. The morning was devoted to training in ticketing, and the afternoon to Trajectoire 2003 training. This involved an overall presentation of the tram project (contract, commitment to quality, future bus/tram network), the equipment, an explanation of tram training and the conditions for obtaining authorization for tram driving, and information on the future organization of the Operational Department and the jobs created by the arrival of the tram.
At the end of this day, everyone was reminded that there was a telephone number available for anyone wanting to meet a tram trainer and obtain further information on the tram training they had had themselves. This training day was held over a period of four months.
The information was supplemented by the usual types of communication – monthly letter, half-yearly magazine and a medium set up specifically for the arrival of the tram ("En Tram") and published whenever necessary. Each time employees were being recruited for the tram project, the in-house announcement was stamped with the Trajectoire 2003 logo.
Developing a new tram in an urban transport company forces the management to adapt the services and its offer. The main enemy of the company was the fears staff members had in relation to their jobs and the fear of losing their jobs. The second problem came from the disinformation within the company, within the groups of staff.
Consequently, Connex Bordeaux needed a fundamental reorganization of its services and staff. To facilitate this new organization, communication related to the tram changes and to the job opportunities for drivers was needed.
The management decided to develop information on the tram project on three levels - first, the managers' level, second, the operator's level, and third, the team leaders' level. Strategically, the information given to the trade unions was also circulated to the team leaders, so that no "special" information could come to the teams of operators without being written/produced by the management.
Because of the trade unions' strong emphasis on the tram project, the company management decided to concentrate on information and dissemination, especially to the trade unions and staff representatives. The trade unions at Connex demanded constant information on the future of employees and it developed an early information process. Instead of being isolated from the decision-making process, the trade unions have been strongly involved in the main stages of the process. The main idea was to disseminate documents from the beginning of the tram project to the three levels of responsibility. Avoiding bad information and rumor has been important in a socially tense context.
Training offer and job opportunities have been increased significantly; Trajectoire 2003 became a by-word for the recruitment of new drivers and the change of activity for employed drivers. The value added by the introduction of the tram is therefore expressed in terms of new recruitment. The global result of the scheme is the reorganization of the company and its recruitment policy.
The first anticipated result was to attract the largest possible number of professional bus drivers employed in the company for transfer from bus driving to tram driving. This objective has been attained, with a large group of bus drivers having become tram drivers in 2003. Sixteen drivers employed by Connex have changed to being tram drivers with the company, and the success was visible when more than 300 drivers applied for recruitment as tram/bus drivers.
The second anticipated result was in relation to the new tram lines in town and the need to transfer bus drivers to the trams. Social issues have been taken into account, to avoid the conflict over bus driving losing importance. The company's management emphasized the importance of tram driving. The experience of promoting the tram has been based on an integrated approach, bringing the drivers together in a common project, trying to involve management in the experience, etc.
The success of the training programs attracted a Spanish Connex company from Barcelona. The pooling of experience gave a positive dimension to the introduction of the tram.
One strong point is the involvement of drivers, who sometimes used their own time to come and get information on the company's reorganization.
There has been strong communication and a number of innovative training programs for tram driving. The innovations did not necessarily concern content, but rather the methods chosen – the process of candidate information, information tools for the company's staff, meeting points, etc.
The main difficulty concerning Trajectoire 2003 consisted in keeping a global objective of reorganizing the company and transferring drivers from one mode to another.
Although the in-house information campaigns were intended specifically to make the new tram driving jobs attractive and to win employees over to the tram, the large-scale recruitment of employees from outside caused a degree of disappointment among some drivers who had been with the company a long time. Social conflict was only partially avoided.
Also, although the main objective was to stay at the global level of explanation and information, the project became a matter for the operational department. As the tram came into use, the operational department became increasingly directly involved in the technical problems and its members received a quantity of new information. This risk was recognized early on and the company tried to keep all members of staff involved.
The last problem was that the training budget was completely dedicated to the Trajectoire 2003 initiative, so no other training initiative has been possible.
Internally, the human resources department was active in the start of the project - getting information first, organizing dissemination, selecting drivers and involving others internally were some of the main tasks of the HR department. Then the communication, training, technical and operational departments were part of the project, active in some stage of it.
For example, the presentations of Trajectoire 2003 to employees were given by either operational managers or the training manager responsible for the tram training program. The presentation days each ended with an hour-long question and answer session with either the actual director of the network or the head of the operational department.
At the same time the company's management created working parties comprising two representatives of each of the trade unions represented on the Joint Works Committee and the Committee on Health, Safety and Working Conditions.
Six working parties were created (Training, Tram driver – organization and working hours, Safety, Organization of work at the PCC, Ticket inspection and fines, and Safety conditions for work at the Bastide garage workshop), each led by the head of the department concerned, assisted by two employees with recognized technical skill in the subject under consideration.
Progress on the work was reported on regularly at managerial meetings (every two weeks) and to all supervisory staff (every six months).
The consultants auditing the company at the beginning of the project and a number of other Connex group companies (Barcelona) were involved at one stage of the project. The intervention of a group of experts in recruiting and restructuring helped to establish a link between the management level and the staff level.
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A strategy of this kind takes a lot of time, particularly on the part of the network's managers, but such availability is a key factor for success in giving credibility to the information circulated.
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