Tubeworker's blog

LU Withdraws 24/7 Staffing Of Control Rooms On The Jubilee Extension

In a move that provides further evidence that "Fit for the Future" is a dressed-up exercise in cutting jobs, LU have announced that station control rooms on the Jubilee Line extension (Stratford to Green Park) will no longer be staffed 24/7.

The company claims that the agreement stipulating the need for them to be staffed round the clock, made in 2001, is no longer applicable, and have agreed a modification with the ORR which will allow control rooms to go unstaffed overnight. The new arrangement came into place on 16 April.

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Full-Time, Part-Time: Equal Rights!

London Underground has said that new part-time Night Tube drivers won’t get the drivers' New Years' Eve bonus, and that only existing, full-time drivers should be entitled to it.

At the same time, in the effort to reduce weekend working for drivers, it has been suggested that pool drivers should work more weekends so rostered drivers work fewer.

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New Underground MD Coming from Down Under

Has there been a new Tube extension built to Australia? Maybe that’s where all the PPP cash went; anyway, we have a new managing Director on his (it’s always his) way from Australia. Mark Wild is leaving his current role as Special Advisor to the Minister and Secretary of The State Government of Victoria to take up the top job at LU.

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Mill Hill Spills

The Northern line's Mill Hill East branch was suspended this morning - with no station staff, it was not fit for the present, let alone the future.

The company's service update blamed "absence of station staff". Note the choice of words: "absence" implies that it's our fault for not turning up, whereas, say, "shortage" might suggest the truth - that LUL doesn't employ enough station staff to keep the job running.

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Parking Pandemonium

With station staff shunted out to locations they don't really want to be at, one consequence has been chaos in staff parking. A situation already made difficult by limitation on staff parking facilities has descended into farce.

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Prominent union activist attacked by management: an injury to one is an injury to all!

Trade union activist Glenroy Watson, a driver on the Victoria Line and President of the RMT London Transport Regional Council, nearly found himself out of work recently when a power-mad manager announced his summary dismissal, at what was only his second Case Conference since going off sick with a back injury.

No up-to-date medical evidence was presented; Glenroy was simply told that his Type 2 diabetes meant he was such a "high risk" that the company could no longer sustain the treatment he was getting for his back!

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Invading Our Privacy

On stations, the new "Fit for the Future" model has resulted in too many people having too much access to our personal information. Station Supervisors, re-branded as "Customer Service Managers", now have to do Return to Work Interviews and Disciplinaries, so they know our reasons for sickness, our medication, and other personal circumstances that lead to absence.

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Vote Labour on 5 May!

We face a straight choice in the Mayoral elections on 5 May: Labour or the Tories.

Here at Tubeworker, we think the choice is pretty clear.

We know who the Tories are: the party of the bosses, who run a government of the rich, for the rich. Their candidate, the millionaire Zac Goldsmith, has made his contempt for Tube workers clear. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the government's Trade Union Bill, which aims to massively restrict our rights to organise at work and take action to defend and extend our rights.

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Transport for London faces further funding cuts

This article was originally published on the Off The Rails blog, Tubeworker's sister blog for mainline railway workers, here.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Tories cut government funding to TfL by over a third. In November last year, they announced that from 2016 they would cut up to £700 million a year from TfL’s grant for running costs with a view to stopping government subsidy of TfL altogether by 2021.

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Shocking Disregard for our Safety

The new London Underground uniform has been found to breach an important safety requirement: there is metal in the soles of the shoes, meaning that they could conduct electricity when we access the track. Now LU is issuing 9,000 pairs of 'interim shoes' while it works on a long-term replacement.

Yet London Underground has told staff: 'it is safe to wear the shoes' while we wait for replacements. LU says we just have to check that the soles are not damaged before we go on the track. But what if the soles get damaged while we're walking the track?

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H&C Drivers Fight Back

"Breaches of the attendance at work policy, an overbearing management team, refusal to release reps for meetings, and misuse of the disciplinary policy": those are the charges levelled by RMT drivers on the Hammersmith & City Line at their bosses. (See the union statement here.)

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ISS Pensions Changes Keep Workers In The Dark

When the government's law requiring all employers over a certain size to provide a workplace pension scheme came into effect, cleaning contracted ISS launched an "off the shelf" pension with a company called NOW. Workers have been paying into the scheme ever since.

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The Numbers Game

With numbers on stations stripped back to bare minimum levels in the "new world" of "Fit for the Future", staff and passengers alike should prepare themselves for the possibility of station closures. Running busy central London stations with the legally-required minimum of staff, and no more, is a recipe for disaster. It will only take one incident - one member of staff to be taken ill, or not make it into work for whatever reason - for stations to close, causing chaos.

The blame for that will lie squarely at the company's door.

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Power and Patronisation

So finally we have the Central Line running again after two days of chaos due to power supply problems.

The solution - unplugging the transformer at Roding Valley, moving it to Bow Road and plugging it in again - does not fill us with confidence about future recurrences.

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Official Picc-et

Not a train is running, and there is not a strike-breaker in sight on the Piccadilly line this morning. With RMT out on the whole line and ASLEF at Arnos Grove, it seems that Society members at Acton and Northfields don't want to be the jokers in the pack and have stayed away as well.

There would not be a clearer message to management that Picc drivers won't put up with being pushed around.

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Get Sick, Get Sacked?

Two recent cases of what might well amount to disability discrimination have shed further light on how LU treats its staff.

Two workers "failed" their probations, both due to attendance issues related to serious physical conditions. (Read more here.)

Behind empty phrases about its "duty of care" and commitment to equal opportunities, the fact is that LU treats sickness punitively. It punishes us for getting ill.

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Cleaning Contraction

Rumour has it that LU is looking to rationalise its cleaning contracts, with the aim of having one contractor provide services for all lines and depots. Vinci, one of the smaller cleaning contractors on LU, has apparently told union reps it will be gone in 18 months!

Tubeworker wants all cleaning services brought back in house. Cleaners are currently used like equipment by LU and contractors. They deserve dignity and respect.

Meanwhile, ISS is still refusing RMT requests for meetings to discuss the impact of Night Tube on cleaners.

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Keystone Cops Lead To Danger For Jubilee Drivers

Over the last couple of weeks on the Jubilee line, objects have been thrown on the track from the same location five times. Line management implemented measures which it was thought would solve the issue - clearing rubbish from the area, CCTV, lighting, and 24-hour surveillance by security for a period of time.

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Bombardier Balls-Up

A GLA report has revealed the rip-off which saw TfL £886m out of pocket after awarding contract to Bombardier which it could not fulfil.

Not only that, but the terms of the contract meant that when Bombardier jumped ship, TfL had to pay it for the money it had spent rather than the work it had done. And all this leaves the sub-surface upgrades delayed by years.

The money lost about 20 times the annual saving that Fit for the Future - Stations is due to achieve. Massive job cuts, ticket office closures, ... and all the money saved gets chucked down the drain.

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More tales from the trenches

Ticket machine training for station staff is going terribly. With less than three weeks to 3 April, over 55% of people who require TMS training still haven’t being trained. One thing that will make training much harder is that SAMFs who are currently training others, also week by week more and more of the voluntary severance staff-many with years of ticket office experience- who can provide cover for training leave.

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Take Your Picc

RMT drivers on the Picc Line will strike against an out-of-control management on 23-24 March, 19-20 April, and 20-21 April. We hope members of the Associated Society will be joining picket lines too.

RMT reported that negotiations aimed at resolving the dispute were sabotaged by uncooperative bosses.

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Fiddler on the Roof?

The Central Line is well and truly up the wall tonight after a chunk of tunnel roof collapsed onto the westbound track at Shepherd's Bush.

It appears that contractors extending the commercial empire of the Westfield Shopping Centre above managed to drill a hole so big that you could get a good look at the track from the newly-appeared viewing hole in the building site above, and there was a risk of even more debris falling through and joining the concrete lump that had already crashed onto the track.

Picc Line drivers, DLR cleaners: vote yes for strikes!

Back in October 2015, Picc Line drivers voted for strikes against an increasingly out-of-control management that was abusing its own disciplinary procedures. The unfair sacking of Paul Okoro was a particularly spectacular example.

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Tube Workers Support Junior Doctors!

Jeremy Hunt wants a 7-day NHS. Boris Johnson wants a 24/7 London Underground. In both cases, the people who actually deliver that service have to fight to defend our rights and our work-life balance.

We have every reason to support the junior doctors in their battle with the Tories. Like them, we have felt the impact of years of Tory attacks on us as public servants and the public service we deliver. And we need to defend the NHS that we all rely on.

Falling at the First Hurdle

As management push CSAs through the sausage machine of TSID (ticket-selling) training, they are coming up against a major obstacle - up to 80% of trainees are failing.

Perhaps this is because the course is condensed into two days. But perhaps it is also because most CSAs never wanted to be ticket sellers in the first place!

Added to this, we are dealing with most complicated fares system of any city in Europe.

We don't want to be rushed through these courses and given a licence just so LUL can pretend that its new world is working. It's not.


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