‘It’s all about teamwork isn’t it,’ says Roger Stewart, a director at Coyle Personnel, one of the largest suppliers of contingent labour to Britain’s rail industry. For a company that is a primary sponsor for around 900 staff, you can understand why teamwork is so important.
As well as its 900 or so sponsored staff, Coyle Personnel employs teams of full-time management and administrative staff at 10 offices around the country: Harrow, Walsall, Cardiff, Central London, Chelmsford, Glasgow, Ashford, Reading, York and Manchester.
Coyle Personnel was incorporated in 1988. The company had initially specialised in construction labour before building a presence in the rail industry. Now a supplier of electrification and plant works (E&P) and signalling contingent labour to Network Rail, Coyle Rail has grown into a £50 million turnover business, supplying some of the biggest names in the fields of signalling, electrification and rolling stock.
The shortage and subsequent demand for engineering skills has put a strain on the industry. The reasons are diverse. ‘It’s the work patterns that is the biggest problem,’ says Roger. ‘Construction in the South East is growing so a lot of people have left the rail industry.’
Coyle Rail, like many other companies, is looking at the training it offers to bring new entrants to the industry, but retention of existing staff is equally important. More than 500 of Coyle Rail’s sponsored staff have been with the business for 10 years or more.
‘I know both sides of the coin,’ says Roger, who began his own career as a track worker. In fact, many of the company’s managers dotted around the country have some form of practical railway experience, with many trained to engineering supervisor (ES), person in charge of possession (PICOP) or machine controller levels.
‘The reward for the guys is being treated fairly,’ says Roger.
Coyle Rail sponsored the Rail Team of the Year category at this year’s RailStaff Awards, which was won by Northern’s Blackpool North station. Last year, a team from Knutsford station in Cheshire took home the Rail Team of the Year trophy. They had received various glowing reports detailing the ways in which they had worked to improve the station for passengers and the community.
Says Roger, ‘It’s good to reward people whether it’s for the office or for the workers themselves.’
He added, ‘It’s all about teamwork isn’t it. To work in the industry we work in, it’s got to be down to teamwork.’