Letters

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article LettersOn 5 Oct 2004 in Personnel Today Thisweek’s lettersWorkplace bullying must be uncovered andstamped outItwas with huge relief I read your excellent 28 September issue and the resultsof your survey with the Andrea Adams Trust on workplace bullying. At last,someone is giving airtime to this problem and has realised that HRprofessionals also fall victim to it. Ileft a job just over two years ago after being bullied by a maverick boss, whowas obviously keen to prove himself as a “business partner”, andmore. He wanted to climb to the top of the tree, and he wasn’t letting anyoneget in the way of his ambitions to be a board director.Becausemy boss was so attuned to employment law, trendy business terms and the do’sand don’ts of dealing with staff, he turned his tactics into apolitically-correct version of bullying, which he referred to as”performance management”.Don’tget me wrong – I am all in favour of managing performance and pulling people upwhen they need it.  I know exactly whatthe term means – performance management is not the same thing as bullying. Still,my boss successfully muddied the waters in very subtle but devastating ways. Icomplained twice about being bullied, to people higher up the food chain. Theydidn’t believe me, and the bullying got worse – impossible targets, constantcriticism… Iwent to an employment lawyer who thought I would win my case, but I decided Icould not handle the stress of going through with it. I resigned, andconsequently suffered from depression. I totally lost confidence in myabilities, and it took me a year to feel able to look for another job. Inow work in a busy HR department dealing with just over 2,000 employees, and amgradually accepting more and more responsibility as my confidence is restored.Workplace bullying needs to be stamped out. For a while, it wrecked my life.Details supplied Employers need to pay for rep trainingYouasked your readers whether employers should pay for the training of union reps(News barometer, Personnel Today, 7 September).Employersneed to realise that their workforce is a useful tool in the workplace. Ifgiven encouragement and support in gaining qualifications and experience, theirfuture input into the company with ideas, support of company procedures andlegal requirements would be invaluable. Christine RhodesDetails suppliedWomen still on the rise at Brent CouncilThanks to PersonnelToday for the very welcome article about Brent Council’s flexible workingpolicies which have helped more women move into senior posts (Breaking theglass ceiling, 14 September). We were delighted with your coverage of our local authority, but wouldlike to clarify a couple of things.Thefirst is that Brent’s chief executive Gareth Daniel, does not – as claimed inthe piece – work a compressed week. Like most other chief executives, he worksfor as long as the job demands, which means he often works in the evening andat weekends. Secondly,the leader of Brent Council, Ann John, as an elected member of the council (andnot an officer) also works on behalf of the borough, for however many hours aredemanded by her role. This is also true of other council leaders, I’m sure.Thegood news, however, is that since you published this article, we have foundthat the proportion of women in senior management has increased yet again by 8per cent in the past year.  This means,that since 2001, the number of women in top jobs at Brent has increased from 30per cent to 48 per cent.Sothanks again for your coverage, and watch this space!Tracy WaltersHead of diversity, corporate diversity team Blanket approach to diversity won’t workAsa diversity gatekeeper, I wish to comment on your 21 September edition, whichcontained some stark contrasts. Thefront page talked about HR putting its own house in order regarding equal pay.I agree wholeheartedly. Then, on page 31, an article with the headline‘Recruitment revolution’ quotes an HR adviser for Woolworths as saying: “It’s good to know thatevery candidate has been screened and dealt with in exactly the same way.”Thissupports the myth that the road to equal and fair treatment is to treateveryone in the same way. In reality, this approach serves to discriminate,albeit inadvertently, and is cited as a factor in the McPherson report’sdescription of ‘institutional racism’. And one of the Disability DiscriminationAct’s requirements is to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to practices andprocedures to overcome discrimination. Themove to a ‘one size fits all’ approach may be good for an organisation’sfinances, but it serves to increase disadvantage unless significant efforts aremade to create alternative options. I’llkeep reading Personnel Today with interest!Jane GoodwinEquality and diversity adviser, HampshireCounty Council Quick fixes will not plug gender pay gapIread Michael Millar’s article in Personnel Today about gender pay gaps in theHR profession with some interest (News, 21 September). As an HR manager inmanufacturing, I am fully aware of the historic preference towards men insenior positions. This has obviously been reflected in HR. I am, however,concerned at the inference that HR professionals are in some way creating this situationthrough discrimination. Ithink it would be more appropriate to study the ratio of women against men inHR manager positions (which has clearly grown in the past 10 years in women’sfavour), and to compare starting salaries at management level for each gender.My guess is that such a study’s results would show that the inflated salariesfor men are historic (those in a job for five years or more), that the majorityof new recruits enjoy salary equity, but that many more women are recruited tothe HR profession. Thenature of employment nowadays is that people move on quicker, and althoughthere is a clear argument that you should be paid for the job you do,regardless of time served, there has always been an element of incremental paythat many of the long-term HR managers (mostly male) from years gone by willhave benefited from.Theover-reaction in your report from some very senior people within the HR worldwill inflame the issue among the profession, and is likely to lead to anover-inflation of salaries all-round. Let’stake a sensible approach to gender and salary and recognise the good work beingdone within the profession to removehistoric inequality – and the education of long-term traditionalist directorsand managers – rather than seeking irrational quick fixes.Pete SmithFrustrated HR managerDismissal rules have not caused difficultyWeoverworked and underpaid personnel practitioners have enough real problems toworry about, without Personnel Today tryingto frighten us with fictitious bogeymen! Irefer to the article on your website by Daniel Thomas on the subject of the newdispute and disciplinary rules, headlined Newdismissal rules make it harder to sack employees (News, personneltoday.com, 20 September). Thenew statutory procedure has three stages, not 13, and I believe the vastmajority of responsible employers will have to make little effort to complywith them, apart from introducing the step of putting invitations todisciplinary meetings in writing. Thomas’assertion that the new rules will make it harder to sack employees is onlypartly true. They will make it very difficult to sack an employee unfairly, andthat is surely no bad thing, since it should never be a simple matter todeprive someone of their livelihood in any case.Ihave revised my organisation’s procedure to accommodate the new rules, and didnot find it difficult to do. Like most personnel managers, over the past fewmonths I have been on the receiving end of a lot of unsolicited literature fromthe legal profession, attempting to drum up business on the basis thatArmageddon is coming, and only the employment lawyers can save us. Alistair McIntoshGroup personnel manager, Balmoral GroupEditor’s reply: The 13-step guide is aDTI measure, and the assertion that the rules will make it harder to sackemployees came from legal experts. ‘Scaremongering’is not our intention, but business groups such as the Federation of SmallBusinesses and law firms have warned that companies that are not aware of thelegislation may be caught out financially. Hence we reported this.last_img read more

Extra capacity to Richards Bay at lower cost

first_imgINTRO: Spoornet’s coal exports are set to grow – if costs are cut to beat competition. While extra substations are going in, the target of 65 million tonnes a year will mainly be achieved through more efficient operationsBYLINE: Philip van HeerdenSenior Manager (Planning)SpoornetBYLINE: Dave BudlerSenior Manager (Strategic Planning)Excoal, SpoornetSOUTH AFRICA’S premier coal export line serving the purpose built deep water port at Richards Bay was inaugurated on April 1 1976. At the time construction of the line was authorised in 1971, it formed part of a plan to ship 109 million tonnes of coal from the Witbank mines over a 12 year period.Design capacity at opening was 21million tonnes a year. Diesel operation had been envisaged for the first few years, but electrification was brought forward as a result of the 1973 oil crisis and completed soon after the line opened. Over the intervening period, successive stages of upgrading have taken place to increase capacity, and 58·3 million tonnes was hauled in 1995. In 1996 the tonnage of coal moved fell slightly to 58·1million. The current target for 1997 is 62 million tonnes.Heavy haul on narrow gaugeThe Richards Bay line forms part of Spoornet’s 1065mm gauge national network, but qualifies as a heavy haul line in its own right. It is the increased worldwide demand for steam coal that has driven up throughput, requiring continual increases in capacity.The challenge facing Spoornet’s planners is to anticipate how the demand for capacity is going to change in future, so that management can implement timely adjustments while taking into account the long life of capital assets.In a highly competitive market for coal, high tonnages will only be sustained if transport costs are reduced, so any further increase in capacity has to minimise investment in new infrastructure and rolling stock. The answer lies in tightening up operations.Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) is the company which owns and operates the coal terminal at the port; its shareholders are the coal mining groups. RBCT co-ordinates the tonnage exported through the terminal from the various mines in the group in accordance with the particular RBCT shareholder’s entitlement.The mines load the trains, generally by means of rapid loaders, although low volume mines use front-end loaders and similar equipment. RBCT is responsible for unloading the trains at the port using rotary dumpers, with the wagons still coupled.The present understanding is that Spoornet should be capable of handling a maximum of 65million tonnes a year, but the actual annual capacity which RBCT requires is negotiated a year in advance. This arrangement, though necessary for practical reasons, causes some difficulties for both parties.The RBCT shareholders need to conclude their contracts in advance and to anticipate market opportunities. Ideally, they want to ship coal to the port at short notice according to demand. On the other hand, Spoornet requires a regular flow of traffic for maximum utilisation of its capital-intensive assets. To acquire additional rolling stock or change the railway infrastructure requires long lead times. RBCT shareholders suffer financially if they do not fulfil their contractual supply obligations, or lose opportunities because they cannot respond quickly to new market demands. Spoornet faces additional costs if it over-capitalises, and cannot generate adequate returns over the long investment life of its assets, typically 30 years.Because of the long lead time to increase railway capacity (both in terms of infrastructure and rolling stock), Spoornet’s planners must look beyond the current understanding with the mine owners, and need a long-term perspective. This means understanding the long-term world demand for coal, and its price; the extent of economically mineable South African reserves; and the role of rail transport in the supply chain.Present capacityThe coal line runs from Blackhill (the furthest mine) to the coal terminal in Richards Bay, a distance of 580 km. The sections from Vryheid to Richards Bay (212 km) and Ermelo to Broodsnyersplaas (93 km) were newly constructed in 1971-76, with heavy upgrading to ease gradients and curvature between Ermelo and Vryheid. Because there was already 3 kV DC electrification in the area, the Blackhill – Ermelo section is at this voltage. From Ermelo to Richards Bay 25 kV 50Hz AC is used. This was the first application of 25 kV AC electrification in South Africa, although the new Sishen to Saldahna Bay iron ore line was being electrified at 50 kV at about the same time.Initially, coal was transported in wagons with a payload of 58 tonnes and an axleload of 20 tonnes. As the line was upgraded, wagons with an axleload of 26 tonnes and a payload of 84 tonnes were introduced to reduce unit costs.Over the DC section between Blackhill and Ermelo, trains are run in lengths of 100 wagons, but over the AC section from Ermelo to Richards Bay they are combined into 200 wagon lengths.Between Ermelo and Richards Bay, the minimum headway is 30min which equates to a theoretical maximum of 48 trains per day in each direction. Presently, some 11 to 12 loaded coal trains of 200 wagons are run daily, together with a further 12 trains of general traffic – half the theoretical maximum. Allowing for paths lost due to track maintenance, malfunctions and operating delays, sufficient reserve capacity remains to meet anticipated increases in coal export tonnage.Between Blackhill and Ermelo a similar situation exists in that there is no immediate requirement for an increase in line capacity.Extra powerFour new AC substations are being installed which will increase overhead line capacity on the Ermelo – Richards Bay section to about 72million tonnes a year during the course of 1997. The sites for the substations, with a combined rating of 80 MW, were selected after careful analysis in order to limit investment to essential requirements only.Because of the large incremental increases which new substations provide, the target of 65million tonnes a year required in terms of Spoornet’s obligation was unavoidably exceeded. Additional DC substations were installed on the Blackhill – Ermelo section during 1996, giving a capacity slightly in excess of 65million tonnes a year.Locos and wagonsThe locomotive fleet comprises AC units from Class 11E (3900 kW), Class 7E-1 (3000 kW) and Class 7E-3 (3000 kW). Class 10E-1 locos of 3090 kW are used on the DC section. The capacity of the combined fleet meets the 65million tonnes a year requirement.CCL and CCR wagons are used for coal exports; CCR denotes a braking system upgrade. The earlier CCL-1 and CCL-3 types were designed for 20 tonne axleloads and are known collectively as ’smalls’; they are now used at mines with axleload limitations, and can be redeployed for domestic coal traffic as the Richards Bay fleet is augmented with newer rolling stock. Later designs (CCL/CCR-5 to CCL/CCR-9) with an increased payload and a 26 tonne axleload are known collectively as ’jumbos’. New coal wagons are exclusively of this type to reduce unit transportation costs. The capacity of the current export fleet is 61 to 62million tonnes a year, which can accommodate peaks in the presently-agreed export tempo. Further capacity increases can be provided either by building more wagons, or decreasing the current average turnaround time of the fleet.Predicting future capacityInvestments in railway infrastructure and rolling stock need to be governed by two primary considerations:last_img read more

InnTower Invitational arrives in Madison

first_imgAfter three tournaments away from home, the Badgers are finally set to return to the friendly confines of the Field House.The Badgers hope to continue their 12-set winning streak this weekend at the 20th annual InnTowner Invitational, where Wisconsin (6-3) will host Notre Dame (5-3), Western Michigan (9-1) and South Florida (3-5).The Badgers have already competed in the Duke Invitational, the NC State Invitational and the Rhode Island Invitational on their way to compiling a 6-3 record. Highlighting the second-longest road trip in program history was the Badgers’ three-straight victories in Rhode Island, winning them the tournament and a streak of 12 consecutive sets, won after effectively stopping all three of their tournament opponents from winning a set.Sophomore Annemarie Hickey advocated the reformed mindset the team adopted before last weekend’s tournament win.“I think we came in with a different mentality this past weekend,” Hickey said. “This spring, we had the mentality that we would work hard in every practice and refuse to lose. After this weekend, we know what it takes for us to win.”A big part of what it takes for the Badgers to win is the solid performance of their libero Hickey, who currently ranks third in the Big Ten in digs per set with 4.88.Hickey is quick to point out, however, that the success did not occur right away.“When we were at NC State, I was struggling a little bit getting to the ball on digs,” Hickey said. “I just needed reassurance from my coaches. They believe in me, and I know my teammates believe in me too. So after a couple days of practice, I just changed my mentality to knowing I could do it. But there are struggles adjusting to a new role, but I’m getting there.”Wisconsin will most likely face its strongest opponent in Western Michigan and its terrific libero sophomore Lena Oliver, who averages over seven digs per set. Oliver and the Broncos are off to their best start in 25 years, riding a six-match win streak into the tournament.With the InnTowner Invitational being the last set of matches before the start of Big Ten play, the Badgers will focus on cleaning up the errors that plagued them throughout the Rhode Island Invitational.“You always want to limit your errors,” head coach Pete Waite said. “This is a sport where you serve it out of bounds and it’s a point for the other team. You really have to keep your errors down, and the biggest focus is the unforced errors. There are some errors that will happen because the other team did something great. If it’s you who’s making the error whether it’s a service error or hitting the ball out of bounds, we have to improve those areas to have a much better chance of winning every match we play.”All things aside, it simply feels good to be back home for the Badgers.“”Even when we were coming home this weekend, I was excited to go back home and play at the Field House,” Hickey said. “It’s always so much fun, and the atmosphere and fans are great.”last_img read more