The railway can learn lessons from other industries as regards managing employee relations and change. That was the key message from Kirsty Derry, HR director at East Midlands Trains, in a presentation to the Golden Whistles conference. Ms Derry explained how her career history has taught her lessons in this area.

Working as a personnel officer at Peugeot Citroen before automation and robots were introduced in manufacturing, many workers thought change would not happen; there are similarities here with the rail industry. There was a divided culture between managers and workers, and management failed to take employees with them through technological change without employee and trade union engagement. Automation and the drive for productivity has since seen the site that Ms Derry worked at flattened and turned into a housing estate. This could have been a very different outcome with good employee relations.

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