In April, Tubeworker reported that mobile station supervision was creeping onto LU stations, with reports of supervisors covering Turnham Green, Kew Gardens and Gunnersbury Stations simultaneously.
Now London Underground has written to the RMT, saying 'mobile station supervision' in this area has proven so 'effective' that LU intends to introduce mobile station supervision on the Wembley Central group too.
The history is that 'mobile supervision' was proposed in 2007. RMT and TSSA led a campaign against this and other issues, dubbed the 'casualisation and de-staffing' dispute; both unions named strike dates but then pulled the action at the eleventh hour.
Tubeworker said at the time that the action should have gone ahead; the dispute settlement was unsatisfactory on many issues, such as LU's continued use of agency staff and abandonment of the commitment to 24-hour supervision.
But one of LU's clear-cut concessions was to completely withdraw plans for 'mobile' station supervision. The dispute settlement read that there would be: 'Rostered LU Station Supervisors during traffic hours at these stations', i.e. a supervisor on every station (for the full text of the dispute settlement, see www.workersliberty.org/whatitsays).
If this issue was big enough in 2007 to motivate joint strike plans between the RMT and the TSSA (the first time TSSA had stirred towards strike action since the 1926 General Strike), then it is surely a big issue now.
Mobile supervision is unsafe, requiring supervisors to literally be in two places at once. It is a threat to the supervisor grade; this model will be rolled out with the aim of cutting jobs. It must be forthrightly and proactively resisted.
Will we have contractors working on unstaffed stations? If a station went into evacuation, would a cleaner be left to lead the evacuation? They wouldn’t be licensed or qualified to do it. But if they legged it and abandoned the passengers, would they be held responsible?
This is just one of the many safety risks for contractors working without a supervisor. Does a contractor have to be seriously assaulted before LU revokes this idea?
As part of our resistance, contractors should refuse to book on to work at a station if the supervisor is elsewhere, on the grounds that it’s not safe. LU would soon get charged a packet for frustrated access. The plans won’t seem so cost-saving after all.