The IPA was delighted to have been asked by ASLEF and MTR Crossrail to undertake a case study of the partnership working relations established by company and union to underpin the success of London’s new Elizabeth line.

As you will read in the following pages, the working relations developed and sustained over the last few years are an inspiring example of working together to achieve mutual gains and joint wins – of meeting challenges, of building joint relationships and an architecture for problem solving, of demonstrating respect for each other’s views and trusting each other’s good intentions.

The relationship is also underpinned by a real commitment on the part of the company to engage union representatives and employees in the company’s strategic decision-making, to ensure high performing and effective line management, to listen to employees and to ensuring trust by making sure that organisational values and behaviours on the ground match.

This is a wide-ranging partnership; the collective bargaining procedure which underpins the partnership relationship has involved working together in detail on recruitment, as well as pay and conditions, including rostering and timetabling. It has ensured that drivers were closely involved in the design of the cabs in the new rolling stock. And it has also ensured that key issues such as diversity and inclusion, family friendly policies, health, safety and wellbeing, training and development and career progression are addressed, to make the employee experience as positive as possible.  Working together has ensured that unions and employees are aware of the strategic challenges the company faces, and are able to discuss these together and come up with joint solutions.  It provides a means of identifying and managing change. As one manager interviewed put it: ‘we trust our drivers with millions of pounds of equipment and people’s lives – why shouldn’t we trust them to improve our ways of working’. As an ASLEF representative pointed out, ‘the relationship is symbiotic, when it’s all hands to the pump.’

Read the full case study here