Tubeworker's blog

Why We're Strong When All Unions Strike Together

1. We can stop the job.
2. No-one can jump ship to another union to avoid striking.
3. Management can't use the fact of some unions not striking to slag off and isolate the one that is.
4. We get a sense of how powerful we are when we unite.
5. Members of different unions get to organise together, picket together, discuss strategies together.
6. The usual inter-union sniping tends to abate for a while!

It would be even better if we had ...
1. One union for all Tube (and transport) workers.

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The fight is on!

RMT members have voted by over 90% to strike in the dispute over pay and Night Tube. The re-ballot of station staff for further action in the "Every Job Matters" dispute also returned a majority of over 90%, as did the ballots of LU Fleet members (for strikes against the use of agency trainers) and Jubilee Line drivers (in a dispute over de-skilling). The ballots returned even higher majorities for action-short-of-strikes.

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Night (Tube) Fever...

LU have published the first official "Night Tube" map, with some proposed timetable details too. It's surely no coincidence that they've done this days before RMT returns its ballot for strikes.

The narrative Boris Johnson, via our bosses, is trying to establish is clear: Look at this wonderful gift I'm giving you - and those pesky unions want to ruin it!

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Direct Action Forces ISS To Cough Up, But Short Payment Still Endemic

Train pickers on the JNP held an unofficial sit-in in the messroom at Morden after discovering mass non-payment of wages.

ISS soon took notice and agreed to pay the arrears. Non- and short-payment of cleaners' wages is endemic across the combine.

Cleaning companies make it hard for cleaners to monitor their pay by forcing them to access payslips online only rather than in hard copy at work.

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Euston, We Have A Problem...

A broken pump in a bin room at Euston led to severe flooding and potential health issues for cleaners and station staff due to stagnant standing water.

The contractor responsible for fixing the pump is dragging its feet, citing financial issues. Why can't LU just fix the pump itself through minor works? Yet again, the madness of outsourcing takes its toll on staff.

Tubeworker's advice to cleaners at Euston is: until the situation's sorted, don't use the bin room!

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BTP: serving the public or serving the bosses?

The British Transport Police (BTP) base their coverage of the Tube network (i.e., where they send their personnel, and when) on "Lost Customer Hours" (LCHs).

LCHs are a company measure of how many hours are lost due to incidents on the line. At busier times, when more "customers" are on the train, a delay results in more LCHs than at quieter times.

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Drivers' unity

A Tubeworker correspondent writes...​​

The feeling of unity amongst train drivers is the highest it has been for a long time. It is the reaction against managements insulting pay offer, and ruthless attempt to permanently increase night working with no compensation or mitigation that has caused to this happen.

ASLEF has had a very good ballot result, and it is an indication that the RMT which covers drivers and other grades will have a similar response.

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Massive strike vote from ASLEF drivers

98% of ASLEF drivers have voted to strike in the pay/Night Tube dispute, on a turnout of over 80%.

The result smashes the Tories' proposed thresholds for strike ballots, and shows the strength of feeling amongst drivers at the prospect of having agreements torn up so bosses can impose 24-hour running.

RMT, TSSA, and Unite return their ballots on 30 June; activists are working hard to ensure similarly resounding yeses.

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Agency cleaners discriminated against

When it comes to cleaning contracts, it's obvious that everyone is interesting in maintaining the status quo and continuing AGS' shameless exploitation of cleaners.

AGS is the agency to which Interserve, the cleaning contractor on BCV stations and depots, outsources much of its labour supply. AGS cleaners have insecure employment status and are at the sharp end of increasing discrimination, which AGS, Interserve, and LU seem determined to deny.

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Bonus for Coppers, Not for Us!

Asked by union reps what the policing arrangements would be for Night Tube, management revealed that there would be 116 extra coppers, who would be paid a 20% bonus for working during our all-night running!

Yep, you read that right. While insisting that we suck up the extra nights for no extra money, management are more than happy to see the police get a tidy bonus. And while advocating more police on the system, they also insist on fewer staff!

Like Woody in Toy Story, do you ever get the feeling you are being replaced?

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We Want A Life Outside Work!

For the first half of this year, those of us who work on stations have been thinking about the location we'll be working at after LU's cuts come in.

LU allowed us to nominate a location and called this process 'Location Matters'.

This was always a little ironic as the process meant that most of us would be displaced against our will.

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LU Pay: What Should We Fight For?

In 2011, the first year of the pay deal which has now expired, and the renewal of which is now the subject of a joint dispute for all four LU unions,an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study showed that income inequality in Britain was growing faster than in any other developed country.

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More action on DLR, strike ballot on LU Fleet...

DLR Interserve cleaners will strike again, from 8-10 June, in their campaign for pay justice. They held a solid strike from 27-29 May, but Interserve aren't playing ball, so workers will have to continue speaking in the only language bosses understand: industrial action.

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Jobs, pay, Night Tube: prepare to strike!

RMT and ASLEF have both announced they'll be balloting members for strikes in their campaigns for decent pay settlement and a good deal for members on Night Tube. TSSA and Unite have declared disputes with LU on these issues too, and look likely to ballot as well.

The prospect of simultaneous ballots, and joint strike action, by all four Tube unions is hugely positive. LU have overplayed their hand and united their workforce in opposition to their derisory pay offer and their attempts to impose 24-hour running without proper consultation and compensation.

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Duty of Care?

Tubeworker HQ recently received a report of a particularly shocking demonstration of the company’s lack of concern for its staff.

A worker who had a heart attack hasn’t heard from his manager once; not even an “are you alright?” email!

Moreover, the worker’s doctor told them they’d seen several similar heart cases down the years. The common feature in all of them? Shift working, and particularly working nights.

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Tube Snot Syndrome

With 24-hour running on its way (meaning more trains), and with staff (including cleaners) spending more time on platforms, Tubeworker is worried about the effects dust inhalation could be having on our health.

We’ve all experienced "Tube Snot Syndrome": blowing our noses and seeing black muck come out. It’s simply not good for us to be down there breathing that in for sustained periods of time.

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59 Jobs Saved - Take Action to Save More!

So, the extensive consultation on LUL's ridiculous draft BNS/rosters - y'know - the ones that cut staff to frighteningly inadequate levels - has led to a whole 59 jobs being restored. Added to 56 we saved last year, that's 115 in total. Instead of culling 953 jobs, LUL now intends to cut "only" 838.

It's not enough! Not nearly good enough. The big majority of stations will see no jobs 'put back' whatsoever, and the lucky few will get a tiny number which will not restore the staffing level that they need.

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On the Pulse

3000 people took part in the new TfL staff satisfaction survey, Viewpoint Pulse. The results are out.

They show that, in LUL, surface transport and TfL overall, 82% of us say we're 'proud' to work for TfL. Management can't take too much credit for this positive result. The 'pride' for working for TfL is probably more to do with the satisfaction that comes from working for a public organisation that delivers public transport.

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Booked Off Without Pay

When weekend engineering works close the line or station where you work, an LU worker would be outraged to be sent home without pay.

But this is happening frequently to cleaners who work for agencies or as 'self employed' staff because they don't have guaranteed hours. It particularly affects the train litter pickers who work at the terminus stations.

Cleaning companies and LU have obviously spied line closures as a way of saving a few quid from the lowest paid people on LU.

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Fixed-term contract CSAs: fight for your future!

All new CSAs employed since the middle of last year have been taken on on fixed-term contracts - most for 12 months, some for 16, but some for less (nine or six).

These fixed-term posts were created unilaterally by LU without agreement from any union. They're a big setback; directly-employed work with LU has always been (relatively) stable and secure. Unions have argued for outsourced work such as cleaning and many engineering functions to be taken back in house precisely because insecurity, casualisation, and precariousness are much more common when work is contracted out.

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Cuts mean delays

There was an unnecesarily long delay on the Jubilee Line this week as staff shortages meant a smouldering on the track couldn't be dealt with quickly.

The nearest station had no supervisor and so one needed to travel down from elsewhere. What would have happened had there been another incident elsewhere at the same time? How much did this staff shortage cost in terms of the service delay?

As Tube bosses plan to cut 900 frontline staff is realised, safety standards will drop and such incidents will become more common.

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DLR workers vote to strike

RMT members working on Docklands Light Railway have returned massive votes for strikes in industrial action ballots.

Workers employed by Keolis/Amey Docklands (KAD), the consortium which runs DLR, voted to strike in their pay campaign, after KAD failed to make an offer that came anywhere near the union's claims.

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What Does Another Five Years Of The Tories Mean For Us?

Five years more of Tory rule, coupled with at least one more year of a Tory mayor, will have big consequences for everyone who works for London Underground directly or as a sub-contractor.

Here are some of the major challenges that lie ahead. And a few ideas to challenge them.

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"Customer Care"?

Word reaches Tubeworker HQ that cleaners working for ISS, the company to which LU outsources cleaning work on Jubilee, Northern, and Piccadilly Line stations, are getting increased "customer care" training.

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A Marathon Journey to Work

NOC has helpfully advised those of us doing dead earlies on Sunday that our taxi routes may be messed up due to road closures for the Marathon. Their solution? Erm ... We didn't notice one of those, so we guess we are expected to find another way in, get up even earlier or perhaps kip on the station overnight.

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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