The four-day week trial LU has been running with drivers on the Jubilee Line is due to come to an end on 2 September. Beset with problems from the start, primarily because at the east end of the line so few people wanted to do it, the trial has seen further drop outs and problems with covering shifts.
A four-day week, which many drivers on mainline train companies already have, has long been an aspiration of our unions. But this has always been, or should always have been, fought for on the basis of <i>reducing</i> the working week, not cramming hours we currently work over five days into four.
The trial has been seen as beneficial for several of those who opted to work it - an extra day off a week is a positive thing. But when the extra rest day follows a dead late 10-hour shift, is it really so shiny?
<i>Tubeworker</i> believes the real damage has already been done. A green light has been given to busting driver's frameworks with draining shifts. To facilitate the four-day week during the trial, parameters have been altered to allow increased driving time (the maximum has gone up to 4h45m, from 4h15m), and increase duty lengths (up to 10h from 8h30m).
What happens when in a year's time the company says that all drivers could do 5h45m without a break? It is likely there will be a referendum of drivers on the Jubilee Line to see if they want the four-day week to become permanent. But it will affect all drivers: if it is accepted, it will be rolled out further. For that reason the debate should be had in all depots and the long-term risks highlighted.
RMT is pushing for a referendum of all drivers, those involved in the trial and those who weren't, on whether the trial should continue. If such a referendum takes place, <i>Tubeworker</i>'s position remains clear: yes to a four-day week <i>with reduced working time</i>, and <i>for all staff</i>, not just drivers; no to a four-day week that means increased driving time, increased duty lengths, and increased fatigue.
If LU only offers the later, as it has so far, drivers should reject their proposals and fight for a genuinely reduced working week.