Tubeworker's blog

Wot No Control Staff

A new manager comes in, wants to make a name for himself, clamps down on overtime, interferes with established ways of ensuring coverage, and guess what happens?

Yup. Not enough control staff to run the subsurface and Piccadilly lines last night. No problems for our intrepid new guvnor: the control room equipment can run itself! No, it can't. Still no problem: the staff can work through their meal reliefs. Er, no they can't.

Result: job up wall.

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Night Fight

RMT and Aslef have now declared disputes with LU over issues affecting Night Tube drivers: their exclusion from full-time jobs, and the unfair application of the overtime rate (full-time drivers get OT payments for any hours worked over 35/week, for example in the result of delays, suspensions, etc., but as Night Tube drivers, on 16-hour contracts, will never hit this threshold, they get no extra pay if their duties overrun).

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Watergate!

Bosses at stations across the combine are threatening to take away water coolers from staff mess rooms, apparently due to the provider's contract expiring.

Staff have been told to drink from the regular tap. Pictures obtained by Tubeworker show that these taps are caked in scum and limescale, and certainly not suitable to drink from (see below; or, if you're reading this on Facebook, click the link to view the picture on our blog). Access to proper drinking water is a basic requirement for dignity and health and safety at work.

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ISS: Give Us Our Holidays Back!

ISS cleaners checked this year's annual leave allocation and found that they are missing a day.

The system shows 27 instead of 28 days. ISS seems to have nicked a day from every cleaner and has not yet responded to RMT's request for an explanation.

Tubeworker is pretty sure we can explain: penny-pinching on holiday pay means more profit for ISS off the backs of the cleaners.

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Cutaway Away

Tower Hill's Area Manager Stations had the bright idea of introducing a written contract for cutaways and long meal breaks for dead early turns (but no-one else). Of course, this involved losing such 'privileges' if you were naughty.

Seemingly, said manager does not understand the concept of goodwill, or of staff being able to sort things out for ourselves. But after a quick reminder, the contract was withdrawn and normal service resumed.

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Solid ETO Action Brings Win Closer

As Engineering Train Operators remain solid in their dispute with Tube Lines, union negotiators are close to reaching a satisfactory settlement. While the 6.3% pay rise has been agreed, management want to hold half of it back until after productivity improvements have been put in place.

Some of their changes are OK, but our right to a pay rise can not be dependant on management getting their way.

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Central Line drivers: all out for 21-22 February!

The dispute against forced displacements of drivers from depots at the east end of the Central Line is continuing. Following a totally solid strike on 25-26 January, RMT has called further action for 21-22 February.

Tubeworker is pleased to see that, following a ballot of their own over the same issue, Aslef drivers will be joining them.

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Dust To Dust

A recent study by scientists at the University of Surrey has found that Tube users are exposed to eight times the level of harmful pollutants of car users.

The scientists rightly highlighted this as a class issue, showing that those who can afford to own and run a car are exposed to fewer health risks than those who have to rely on public transport. Bus users are also exposed to five times the pollution of car users.

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RIP

The death of passenger Bernard Ovu at Canning Town station is a tragedy, and our thoughts are with his loved ones. But there are also lessons to be learned about staffing of Night Tube stations.
Plenty of stations now run Underground services all night but have areas of the station which close after the last train on non-Night Tube lines or other train operating companies' services - and we have our own non-public areas. What we don't have is enough staff to check all these areas.

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Protect migrants' rights: hands off our workmates!

Parliament recently voted by 332-290 against a proposal to guarantee the rights of all EU nationals currently resident in the UK after Britain leaves the European Union. This means that they could be forced to leave the country under the terms of any "Brexit" settlement.

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Go, Look, Sexism

A set of Bostwick gates at Victoria is dragging rather more than it ought to, so management have come up with an ingenious solution - women staff are not to handle the gates.

Yes, you read that right. In the sort of blatant, in-your-face sexism that is rarely seen these days (not because there is little sexism, but because it is usually less blatant), a 'Go Look See' visit has come up with this pitiful response.

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Cleaners For Sale

ISS, one of the major contractors on London Underground, has given notice that 31 December will be the last day of their contract. ISS cleaners have no idea who they'll be working for after that. Vinci has also served notice. Although Interserve is thought to be a leading bidder for the new "super contract", Interserve cleaners have no firm information either. We will all be sold off to the highest (or, in fact, the cheapest!) bidder like modern-day slaves.

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Stations dispute wins concessions: celebrate the wins, organise to push for more!

RMT suspended strikes planned for 5-8 February, and called off its overtime ban. The suspension of action was a response to a new proposal from LU, made in Acas negotiations on Thursday 2 February, which involves some significant concessions. These include 325 additional jobs, and guaranteed promotion for all existing CSA2s to CSA1.

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An Open Letter To a London Transport User: Why You Should Support the #TubeStrike

Dear London Transport User,

As you probably know by now, we (that is, London Underground station staff) are planning further strikes over 5-8 February. Many news reports focus almost exclusively not on the reasons behind our strikes, but on the impact it will have on you, the people who use the services our labour makes possible.

I'm writing this letter, as an LU station worker and supporter of the strikes, to urge you to resist our employer's, and the media's, attempts to turn you against us, and explain why you should support our strike.

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Threat Of Strikes Forces New Offer From LU: Keep Strikes On To Win More!

RMT has named new strike dates in the station staffing dispute, from 18:00 on 5 February to 10:00 on 6 February, and from 10:00 on 7 February to 00:59 on 8 February.

In response, LU has made us a new offer. They're proposing to reinstate 325 jobs, re-staff most (but not all) the control rooms they de-staffed, and establish a promotion pathway to CSA1 for existing CSA2s.

This all requires a bit of unpicking.

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Broken Rails

Victoria line rails broke clean through twice in the space of three days last week. Given that this usually happens only once a month across the whole network, you'd think it would set the alarm bells ringing.

It has certainly set management's excuse-mongering machine rolling.

While telling us that they don't yet have a full report, management seem happy to suggest that the problem was caused during welding or installation. Without actually using the word 'conicidence', management imply it by stating that the two incidents do not have the same root cause.

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Stuck Under the River

The delights of driverless trains were plain for all to see as a DLR train got stuck in the tunnel under the river for over an hour yesterday.

It was undoubtedly a deeply unpleasant experience for the passengers, packed like sardines during the morning peak when it may have been freezing outside but it was sweltering in the train.

It took an hour for engineers to reach the stranded passengers and for a rescue train to get them out.

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Central Line drivers to strike against displacements

After a resounding vote in favour of action, RMT drivers at Hainault, Leytonstone, and Loughton Traincrew Depots will strike from 21:00 on Wednesday 25 January to 20:59 on Thursday 26.

They're striking against displacements; Tubeworker previously covered the dispute here (if you're reading this article on a platform that doesn't include hyperlinks, the URL is: http://www.workersliberty.org/node/27399).

We need strong pickets at all depots, and we hope Aslef members will respect them.

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Wot No Car Park?

Staff who use Tottenham Hale's station car park have been shocked and angered to find that it has closed - and that management have known about this for ages but told them with only a week's notice.

The excuse is that the space is needed for taxis due to the Tottenham Hale Upgrade Project. Apparently, the combined imaginations of all the planners, managers and contract bosses involved in the upgrade could not come up with any possible plan that would retain the 12 parking spaces for LUL staff.

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Mayor Khan, The Scab's Friend

This week saw thousands of London Underground workers striking to fight for more jobs on the tube to improve safety; following tube bosses reckless decision to cut nearly 900 jobs. Meanwhile London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan was calling this fight "completely pointless," peddling dodgy statistics on how much of the service was running and praising scabs who failed to keep the service going.

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After historic strike, let's maintain momentum!

Yesterday's strike of station and revenue staff was historic. We showed that we have immense power when we stand together. Our strike shut down central London, putting immense pressure on the employer and exposing the depths of their staffing crisis.

Lively pickets were mounted at stations across London, with TSSA reps and activists joining their RMT colleagues (despite TSSA's last-minute wobble!). With unity in the dispute maintained, the logic points towards one industrial union for all Tube workers.

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Shutdown!

Pickets are in confident mood this morning, as the most effective station staff strike in memory cranks up the pressure on management.

With hardly any trains running and few Section 12 stations open, management can not remain in denial about how strongly staff of all grades feel about the stripping away of staff from stations. The pressure is now on the company and the Mayor to make good the damage of Fit for the Future - Stations.

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"New offer"? Hardly. Support the strikes!

Hastily-convened 11th-hour talks between LU and the unions in the station staffing dispute produced an interesting development today.

Under the leadership of their General Secretary Manuel Cortes, TSSA suddenly sought private talks with the company, fracturing the unity that had existed thus far.

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When is "500" not "500"? When it's 150.

LU's bulletin issued following the conclusion of Acas talks (see below) is completely misleading. Their headline figure is that they "will recruit 500 new staff into stations this year", but as they admit immediately afterwards, only 150 of these will be additional. 350 of the jobs will be the natural turnover that LU always recruits to cover natural wastage (people retiring or leaving the job, moving jobs, being promoted, etc.).

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Stations, revenue, Central Line west end drivers: see you on the picket lines!

With Acas talks in the station staffing dispute ending without any new offer from the company, the joint RMT/TSSA strike on stations is on for 8-9 January.

Striking alongside station and revenue staff will be Central Line drivers at White City and West Ruislip depots, who are taking action aimed at winning the reinstatement of their unfairly sacked colleague Dean Storey.

Withdrawing our labour is the most fundamental and effective weapon we have as workers; let's use it!

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Wot No Taxis?

The staff taxi service on Christmas Eve night was a disgrace.

Lots of staff were left standing in the dark and cold for up to several hours, waiting for cabs that didn't arrive, making phone calls and being repeatedly fobbed off. It's just good luck that (as far as we know) nobody was badly assaulted.

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Hell No, We Won't Go

This week, twelve drivers at Leytonstone and Hainault have received letters displacing them from their depots from January, eight of them to Earls Court. Imagine being at one of these depots, thinking it was your permanent location, then finding that you were expected to travel an extra two hours a day to get to and from work - that's ten hours a week stolen from your life.

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Passenger Information - it's in your interest to support the fightback!

As London Underground's short-staffing is exposed dramatically by our overtime ban, stations are closing left, right and centre. We can strengthen our fightback by ensuring that passengers and Londoners know exactly why this is happening.

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