Hundreds of Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers responsible for repairing above-ground subway tracks have been getting paid for eight-hour shifts, even though they actually spend only four hours per day working.

To keep workers safe and prevent them from slowing down rush-hour trains, the MTA only permits outdoor track work between 10:30 am and 2:30 pm — meaning that the agency's 455 outdoor track repair workers only work about four hours per day. But the agency spends about $10 million per year paying out the workers' full-time shifts from 8 am to 4 pm, even though they usually spend about half of their days "reading, chatting or doing other leisure-time pursuits instead of fixing rails and switches," according to the Daily News.

A new report by the MTA's inspector general urges the MTA and the Transport Workers Union Local 100 to find ways to "get more weekend work" for outdoor track repair crews, because the agency doesn't allow crews to work outdoors at night, when most track work is done. But the union says weekend work is unfair: "The answer is not to punish track workers and our families for the MTA's gross mismanagement," said union officer John Samuelsen, who noted that the agency's rule book actually allows workers to hit the tracks as early as 9 am, not 10:30 am. "If the MTA moves to take track workers from our families on both Saturday and Sunday every week, there will be swift intervention from TWU Local 100."