Tubeworker's blog

Water Load Of Rubbish

Canada Water station (on the Jubilee Line and London Overground) is to be renamed "Buxton Water" for a day on Sunday 26 April, to tie in with Buxton's co-sponsorship of the London Marathon which takes place that day.

This is the first time a Tube station has been named after a commercial sponsor. The wall roundels at Canada Water will all be changed, and special commercially-branded artwork will be added. TfL will be making a nice little profit out of the whole venture - around £110,000.

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Project Guardian?

Transport for London has relaunched "Project Guardian", encouraging people to report unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport via text or phone. 90% of these crimes go unreported.

It's good that TfL is encouraging people to report crimes and giving them more ways of doing so, but is this being done because of the massive safety issue which will be caused by cutting hundreds of workers?

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Off The Rails

The job's well and truly up the wall on the Central line today, following last night's engineering train derailmemt.

The battery-powered ballast train derailed its last bogie and clattered into the wall, sending four on board to hospital, including the tamper driver. The good news is that all have been released, with the main injury bring whiplash.

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Wot No Monitors? (Thank heavens for station staff...)

Technical problems led to monitors in Victoria Line train cabs going out of action on Tuesday 13 April.

That meant, at many busy stations, drivers relying more heavily than normal on CSAs doing SATS duties to make sure it was safe to close doors and move off. Teamwork between drivers and station staff ensured the loss of monitor signal didn't lead to any major incidents.

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Tube Lines, Thales: Prepare to strike!

RMT members at Tube Lines have overwhelmingly rejected a company proposal to remove rostered rest days. The union is now preparing a strike ballot.

At Thales (one of the companies which provides and maintains various technical infrastructure to LU), workers have voted by 80% for strikes, and action-short-of-strikes, in a dispute against potential job losses and propose roster changes.

Reps from Tube Lines and Thales should discuss with reps and activists from elsewhere across LU to work out the best ways of linking up and mutually reinforcing our ongoing fights.

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Lamped Out

It was something of a shock for Barking drivers when a 7-metre-tall lamppost keeled over in the sidings. It only just missed a driver.

Management didn't appear too concerned, though. They kept the sidings open and didn't even bother checking the other lampposts until the following day.

It transpired that there was a bolt missing from the collapsing post. Perhaps there was a screw loose in management's response too.

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Save Your Job, Don't Sell It!

The second window for station staff to apply for Voluntary Severance opened last week.

Some of us may be totting up what's on offer and dreaming of retirement in the countryside. Others may understandably want out of a future of micromanagement and chronic staff shortages on LU stations.

But while you make up your mind to stay or go, we just wanted to drop you a reminder of what VS is.

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Ticket Office Closure Trial: A Failure and a Farce

Two trial closures of Lancaster Gate Station ticket office resulted in chaos for customers and abuse for staff.

On the first day, the station was short staffed. No additional management were sent to assist. Staff were verbally abused.

On the second trial day, the ticket machines broke down; staff ended up allowing people to pay at their destination.

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Management Take The Piss At Elephant

The male toilet on Platform 3 at Elephant and Castle, frequently used by drivers, has been out-of-service for over a month, while it undergoes "essential maintenance".

The date by which management promised the work would be finished has come and gone, with no new date given or any sign of completion (or even progress).

Everyone's getting frustrated; there are queues at the female toilet, which is being used as a unisex facility, and even cleaners are starting to bear the brunt of drivers' anger.

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Med Cert? Leave it Out!

Tube workers who are sick while on annual leave have been shocked to find out that management are demanding medical certificates even for the first seven days of sickness. Excuse us, we thought we were allowed to self-certify for the first week.

Apparently, there is a new policy that doctor's notes are required during leave. Once again, management seem to think that we are all a bunch of skivers who feign sickness when we are off just so we can get the leave back and be off again later in the year. So they want proof of sickness. Charming.

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When unions decide whether to call strikes, it is usually after some discussion amongst reps and officials. These discussions will consider how effective any action might be, and what level of support for it there is among members.

Sometimes, people will express concern that if the union calls a strike, a significant number of members will leave the union. Others may disagree with these doomy predictions.

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Return to Sender

Full-time station staff are today receiving letters from LUL informing us of the outcome of the location preferencing process.

It looks like around 1,000 staff are to be displaced to locations where they do not want to work - and some are even finding themselves working further away from home than they do already! The reality of FftFS is now slapping people hard in the face.

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The Price of Safety?

London Underground seems to be taking drivers to task for PTI incidents on the District Line, going as far as sacking one recently.

But on the District Line, the cameras and monitors are so old that the driver frequently does not have a clear view of the platform. LU says it doesn't need to upgrade the old kit, as it will be obsolete when new S-Stock is rolled out.

But that could be a year away; what's the price of safety until then? Drivers are already rightly requesting assisted despatch from station staff. That will cause LU delays. Maybe that will make them cough up.

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ISS spies on staff

Last year, RMT cleaners working for ISS on the Jubilee, Northern, and Piccadilly Lines (JNP) contract fought a heroic battle to try and stop the introduction of "biometric fingerprinting" machines. The union balloted for action, and cleaners boycotted the machines. They were subsequently locked out for months on end. (Click here for background to the dispute).

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More indignities for agency cleaners...

Back in January, Tubeworker reported how cowboy agencies like “AGS People” are screwing Tube cleaners by forcing them to register as “self-employed contractors” or “limited liability companies” in order to avoid paying tax on their wages and get out of respecting statutory rights.

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Wot No Security Checks?

Central and Waterloo & City line staff were no doubt delighted to receive a bulletin from our management stressing the importance of our role in security checks.

We wholeheartedly agree. The hours that station staff spend every day checking areas and doors are secure, registering each check with a "wand", is essential to the security of millions of people travelling on the Underground. It - quite literally - saves lives. It's nice to see management acknowledge this.

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Pay offer? Pathetic. New rosters? Risible. The company is insulting us: time to reclaim some dignity

Our bosses seemed determined to test our collective boiling point. First, they forced us into a confusing and unclear “Location Preferencing” process, making us nominate a station to work at without knowing anything about its proposed roster or staffing levels. They told us we had to “be flexible”.

Then they kept us in the dark about our rosters for our months, fobbing off our reps and only revealing rosters at the last possible moment, with a rushed, two-week “consultation process” (ending around 25 March) granted for us to get to grips with them.

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Reinstate Clara Osagiede! Touch one, touch all!

Another day, another outrageous sacking on London Underground.

Cleaners' rep and organiser Clara Osagiede has been sacked by Interserve, the company to which LU outsources cleaning services on the Bakerloo, Central, and Victoria Lines, on trumped up charges.

RMT is already in dispute with Interserve over short- or non-payment of wages, management bullying, and victimisation of reps including Clara and Alex Boachie (who Interserve managers had arrested at Hainault depot last year).

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Dear Staff, Here's How Much We Pay You

Wasn't that nice of London Underground Ltd to send us all a letter telling us how much the company pays us? And what a coincidence that it just so happened to arrive just as the pay talks are kicking off in earnest.

Perhaps it would have been simpler to send us all a postcard saying "Don't you get lots of lovely pay and perks? Why on earth would you want any more? Don't be greedy now ..."

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Drivers to strike against unfair sacking

RMT drivers will strike from 21:30 hours on Saturday 7 March until 03:59 hours on Sunday 8 March 2015, as part of the campaign against the unfair sacking of Morden depot driver Alex McGuigan.

This action is being taken principally to keep the strike ballot live, to allow reps to build and plan further action.

Tubeworker calls on all drivers due to work during these hours, of whatever union, to support the strike and back the campaign against LU's abuse of procedures.

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Uniform appeal!

The LU training school sent out an 'appeal' across LUL for old uniform that might be lurking in the back of storerooms and cupboards.

With the new uniform scheduled for late this year, it appears that LU is already running existing stocks down to the extent that new starters are on stations without coats and other basic items!

So LUL will spend millions on new uniform for its vast corporate re-brand, but will scrimp and save on current uniform so we're left to freeze on stations? Sounds about right!

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Customer Disservice

A Tubeworker correspondent writes...

Our "Passenger-Operated Machines" (POMs) at Tube stations have recently been re-programmed to keep hold of the money, or charge the punters' bank accounts, in the event of a "failed sale" (where the desired and paid-for ticket or Oyster product doesn't arrive).

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Labour and the railways

Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher seems to have come round to the idea of renationalisation on the railways. He stated recently that he would like to "put the current franchising system in the bin" and that under a Labour Government "the public sector will be running sections of our rail network as soon as we can do that".

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The Answer To Austerity? Expropriate The Banks!

Tubeworker reported recently on management's tiny-violin-playing, tear-jerking claim that, due to our austere economic times, workers shouldn't expect a pay rise out of the talks which began recently (see here for more).

But in fact, we live in a society of immense wealth, where there's enough money sloshing around to guarantee a life of relative luxury for everyone. The problem is who controls is.

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Pay talks begin: whose belts should tighten?

No sooner had the preliminary discussions on a new pay deal for LU staff begun than the Chief Operating Officer got his tiny violin out and started tugging at our heartstrings about how terribly hard up the company is.

"We face a difficult financial climate ... Further pressure on our finances is inevitable ... Organisations in both the private and public sectors have seen severe pay restraint or pay freezes..."

In other words: don't get your hopes up, guys and girls. We might find you some crumbs from the table, but that'll be about your lot.

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Drivers' ballot: keep up the fight for justice, no to management meddling!

Drivers in the RMT have voted, by 299 to 221 on a 42% turnout, to strike in protest at the unfair sacking of Northern Line driver Alex McGuigan.

Drivers in Alex's depot, Morden, already held a solid strike in December, after which RMT decided to ballot all driver members.

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