Tubeworker's blog

IM Emergency?

LU staff are being told to contact IM (IT) services only in an "emergency". IM services are apparently too short staffed to deal with routine queries.

Hardly surprising! LU decided that iPads and apps were the answer to everything. Tubeworker wonders how many extra IT staff were hired to support all the new technology? Clearly not enough if we're having to beg for IT support.

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Superbugs!

It was recently announced, following a study by scientists from London Metropolitan University, that various "superbugs" were loose in LU tunnels and stations, borne on poor quality air.

The Mayor has come up with the bright idea of doing a "super clean" on up to 50 stations overnight over the summer.

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Safety First

The stretch of the Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines running past Grenfell Tower remain suspended, as investigations into the tragic fire continue.

This is absolutely right; no corners can be cut with safety, and until those investigations are concluded and the area made safe, that suspension should remain in place.

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Grenfell Fire: Never Again!

This is a joint blog post from Tubeworker and Off The Rails.


The working-class people killed in the Grenfell Fire were killed because they were working-class. They were killed for being working-class — and, many of them, for being people of colour, and/or from migrant backgrounds — and not being able to afford better quality housing, or to afford legal representation to challenge the negligence of their landlords that tenants' groups had called out for years.

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Picc Line fleet workers ballot for strikes against casualisation

RMT is balloting Tube Lines workers at Northfields and Cockfosters depots for strikes to stop the introduction of a two-tier workforce, after Tube Lines announced plans to employ 35 new staff on fixed-term contracts.

The union position, quite rightly, is that all new jobs should be permanent. Allowing fixed-term contracts to become the norm leads to casualisation, with workers becoming disposable depending on when the bosses decide the need is greatest.

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Tories' anti-union laws scupper "London Bridge 3" ballot: fight must go on!

Today we received the disappointing news that the ballot for action to win reinstatement for Lee Cornell, and justice for Dave Sharp and Saeed Sioussi (the "London Bridge 3"), had failed to meet the 50% turnout threshold required by the Tories' Trade Union Act.

Despite returning a majority of 80% in favour of action, the 35% turnout is not enough for the union to call a legal strike, meaning cross-combine action in this dispute is impossible without a re-ballot that does hit the thresholds.

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Cash Out

London Underground has not provided enough training to station staff on how to handle cash from the ticket machines since ticket offices closed.

Money piles up in the machines because too few staff are trained on how to take it out. LU brought in new snazzy Cash Handling Devices (CHD), and barely trained us on them, saying they were "easy to use".

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Build on the Labour surge

Labour's surge in the 8 June is a source of huge political hope and inspiration for all working-class people.

The outcome, a Tory government only given a workable majority via the support of the far-right Democratic Unionist Party, is a grim outcome, but an unstable one. Another election, eminently winnable for Labour, is possible soon.

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Interserve turns the screws

Union reps and activists at Interserve are reporting an uptick in workers being hauled in for disciplinaries, with bosses often attempting to take advantage of an assumed lack of knowledge of their rights on the part of some cleaners.

RMT has issued the following advice to its members: "If you are called in for a disciplinary hearing, or a so called ‘fact finding’ which you think might lead to a disciplinary hearing you must immediately contact your union representative and ask them to accompany you to the 'investigation'."

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LDI Difficulties

We always knew that devolving disciplinary authority down to "shop floor" level would cause difficulties, and we're taking no pleasure in being proved right. Forcing former supervisors (now "CSMs") to discipline their immediate operational colleagues has led to all sorts of problems on stations, to which Area Managers, in their wisdom, have added a further complication: it now seems they're leaning on CSMs to issue 26-week warnings as standard.

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Luco Loco at Oxo

A rather dystopian, if garishly-coloured, vision of TfL/LU's corporate, semi-privatised future at Oxford Circus today, as wealthy sugar merchants Lucozade ran a promotion offering free bottles with a contactless chip worth one free Tube journey embedded in the bottom.

It has long been an ambition of LU bosses, and some politicians, to boost private sector involvement in the Tube — from selling off former ticket office space to retailers like Amazon, Tesco, and Argos, to flirting with procuring corporate sponsorship for station names ("Lucozade Oxford Circus", anyone?).

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'Appy Now?

LU is on something of an app binge at the moment, rolling out new apps for rostering and coverage, and signing contractors onto stations.

There have been many hiccups, and the launch of the "Rostering and Coverage Tool" (RCT) app has been put back twice.

An app that makes it easier for staff to swap shifts and annual leave allocations would be very welcome. One that appears to have the ability to monitor and police staff movement, as this app appears to, less so.

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Staff Presence

In the wake of the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester, station staff have been asked to wear our hi-vis vests permanently while on duty. LU says this is to "reassure" passengers about "staff presence".

Might it not be more reassuring to actually address the issue of how many staff there are, rather than merely changing our outfits to make us more visible?

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"This Simply Isn't True": A Reply to Brian Woodhead

Senior LU boss Brian Woodhead sent out an Employee Bulletin on Friday afternoon, which, despite its pathetic nod in the direction of appearing evenhanded (he "respects our choice" to vote for strike action, apparently!), was little more than a scurrilous piece of propaganda designed to peddle the management line in the London Bridge 3 case.

Let's break Brian's email down bit by bit...

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London Bridge: Prepare to Strike! Rest of Network: Prepare to Vote Yes!

As station staff at London Bridge prepare to strike on 7-8 May to demand reinstatement for Lee Cornell and justice for Dave Sharp and Saeed Sioussi, RMT has announced it will ballot all stations and revenue grade members from 10 May for strikes in the same dispute.

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Bought And Sold

ISS cleaners on the JNP contract have received letters from the company informing them that ISS will not be retaining its contract beyond 2017. The letters explain the "Transfer Undertakings (Protection of Employment" (TUPE) regulations under which ISS cleaners will be transferred over to a new employer. Who that new employer will be, however, ISS either doesn't know, or isn't telling.

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London Bridge: Strike For Justice! Reinstate Lee Cornell!

RMT has called a strike of station staff at London Bridge on 7-8 May, as part of the ongoing campaign to win reinstatement for Lee Cornell and justice for Dave Sharp and Saeed Sioussi, the "London Bridge 3".

Do not book on for any shifts between 22:00 on Sunday 7 May and 21:59 on Monday 8 May.

Action short of strikes has also been called: Do not service any POMs, or challenge customers without valid tickets or Oysters, until further notice.

This dispute should escalate to a combine wide ballot as soon as possible if management don't see sense.

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Goldfish Bowl Woes

The “Goldfish Bowl” facility used by drivers at Elephant and Castle is increasingly unfit for use.

There are vermin traps in every corner, dirt and mould up the walls, and a disgusting smell that seems to have seeped into the tiles.

Does LU think so little of workers’ dignity that it wants us to take our breaks in conditions like this?

Union reps are pushing for a full refurb. Basic dignity at work is non-negotiable.

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Tube workers: vote Labour!

Tory Prime Minister Theresa May has called a general election for 8 June, u-turning from her previous position that none should be held until 2020.

She has called the election for her own reasons: she senses Labour is weak, and wants to secure her and her party’s position in advance of any potential backlash against the economic downturn that will almost certainly result from her planned “hard Brexit”.

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Beat the New Anti-Union Law!

RMT's ballot in defence of the London Bridge 3 is our first taste of organising industrial action since the Tories' new anti-union law - the Trade Union Act - came into effect in March. The law means voter turnout must be over 50%. In 'important public services', such as the Tube, there is an additional requirement that over 40% of the people balloted must have voted 'yes' in order for our ballot result to be 'legal'. So we need a 'yes' vote that is strong enough to meet - and beat - these new thresholds. Vote yes!

Trade Unions: 

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In the Sexism Club?

LUL managers appear to think they are in the TV series 'Life on Mars' as they have woken up in the 1970s (or even earlier) and banned pregnant women from driving trains. They have thrown a particular woman - Kyria Pohl - off her Train Operator training course, and stated that yes, this is because they will no longer allow pregnant women to be in training or to drive a train.

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Night Tube Drivers Win

Night Tube drivers have won their fight with management for a fair chance at moving into full-time jobs.

They had previously been locked in by a ridiculous rule that they had to stay put for 18 months, fifty per cent longer than the standard one year waiting time to move. As usual, management remained intransigent until strike action loomed, with NT drivers delivering a whopping vote in the ballot - at which point management suddenly saw the injustice in the 18-month bar and agreed to relax it.

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(Un)happy birthday, Fit for the Future!

Fit for the Future, which "celebrated" its first birthday last week, changed normal working life for every member of station staff.

Before FftF, we'd gotten used to the distinction between "rostered" and "reserve" staff (not including SRT). Now, we are all reserves, with many weeks on our roster down as "Cover Weeks" where we can be sent anywhere on our Cover Group at very short notice.

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Flash and Dash? No Thanks!

There is a very good reason that we check in person that trains are empty before taking them into sidings or depots. It is only through staff physically checking that the train is empty that we can guarantee that it is, and thus prevent overcarries and the accidents and assaults that go with them.

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Farewell, Steve

LU Managing Director Mark Wild informed staff in an Employee Bulletin this morning that Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths would be stepping down.

Tubeworker is pleased to publish this poem we've been sent, written to mark the occasion by E. J. Thribb, an Operational Apprentice aged 17½.


So. Farewell then,
Steve Griffiths
Whose departure as LU Chief Operating Officer was announced today.

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Transfer Talk

Over 1,500 workers face being shuffled around like pieces on a chessboard from 30 April, as LU proposes to transfer the employment of all workers involved in engineering, major projects, change delivery and PMO activity to Transport for London.

The relationship between TfL and its subsidiary companies is something of a movable feast, with the level of integration seeming to magically increase or decrease depending on what happens to suit the bosses at a given moment.

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Admin Up In Arms

Stations, revenue, and SRT administrators have been presented with an "operational administration customer service charter", setting out what our "customers" - that is, station staff and managers - can expect from their admin teams.

Many admin feel this is deeply insulting and seems like telling us we aren't doing our jobs properly. To add insult to injury, this charter was sent to administrators only the day before the admin forum where it was presented as a done deal, with no opportunity for admin staff to have any say in the process.

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Wot No Posters?

It appears LU is in the process of recalling the posters normally displayed at stations informing the public that the company will support its employees against passenger assaults, taking legal action if necessary.

Tubeworker HQ understands that the official company line on this is that they don't want to "give the impression that the Tube is a dangerous place". It seems to us that a good way to ensure the Tube becomes more dangerous is to send the message that the company won't take action on staff assaults, implying that it's open season for attacks on staff.

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Wot No Minimum Numbers?

Last month, King's Cross station stayed open with just one CSS and two CSAs on the station - not just below but way below minimum numbers - but management have decided that it was not that much of a problem.

When the last H&C trains were running late on 22 February, dead-late staff booked off and the station fell below the minimum numbers of 1 CSM + 10 others, it should have closed. Instead, King's Cross stayed open with just one CSM, one CSS and two CSAs - and then the CSM left the station to get rid of an intoxicated passenger who had abused a member of staff.

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