Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Stand-by?

At tonights regularly scheduled membership meeting, there was much discussion surrounding the company's insistence on operator stand-by, and why it is necessary.
By their own admission, this year there hasn't been one instance of an 18 hour shift worked. Not one. Last year, there were 3 or 4 instances. Still, a very low number.
As you are aware, the current "draft" of the fatigue standard, that the company continues to refer to, actually allows for 18 hour shifts. It also directs how it is to be handled. If the fatigue standard allows for 18 hour shifts, which we are already doing, then what is the need for operator stand-by? It isn't necessary.
A North Plant operator brought up the fact that in discussions with several different managers, the subject turned to staffing. He stated that the company believes we are overstaffed. That our current Solomon number has us at 5.2 operators per post. And that Solomon believes we should be at 4.8 operators per post. So what would it take to get us to their target?
Cutting approximately 50 positions would get them to their magic number. Where would you cut though?
We have around 56 replacement positions throught out the refinery. If the company were to cut the units down to around 2 replacements per progression, then they could be at their goal, or close to it. Being cut back that deep, however, would make filling the normal vacancies that exist almost impossible to fill. Hence, operations standby.
As it stands right now, the operations stand-by that was proposed and withdrawn by the company, is not necessary. So the question of why they are insisting on it needs to be asked. We believe that the 12 hour shift schedule is preferable to both parties, and that our operators have done their job in covering their jobs. If the fatigue standard is not the reason for stand-by, then what is?