Tubeworker's blog

Reinstate Dean Storey!

RMT is balloting drivers at West Ruislip and White City depots for strikes to win Dean Storey his job back.

Dean had a SPAD at White City, but was unjustly sacked after a perfunctory CDI dismissed or ignored the many mitigating factors Dean's union reps raised.

Every union activists, and most LU workers who've ever faced company discipline, will recognise the story: a management that seems to have made up its mind before the disciplinary interview is even held, with no meaningful consideration given to mitigating factors and the result an apparent fait accompli.

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Picc and H&C Drivers: All Out On 6 December!

RMT has called strikes of drivers on the Picc and Hammersmith and City Lines for 6-7 December. They're facing similar issues - management abuse of procedures, arbitrary and authoritarian discipline, and, on the Picc in particular, victimisation of union reps.

All drivers, whichever union they're in, should participate in the strikes.

RMT stations reps are meeting on Monday 28 November to discuss their dispute; they should push the union to name strikes on stations to coordinate with the drivers.

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Flat Lining on the Picc

The Piccadilly line staggers through its most embarrassing leaf fall season with a fleet that's not fit for the present let alone the future.

Trains are unfit for service because of flats, a problem that always gets worse when leaves fall on open sections and wheels skid as a result. But this year it is significantly worse.

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Reasons to back the ban: figures show scandal of LU's overtime bill

RMT's overtime ban for stations and revenue staff kicks in at 00.01 tonight/tomorrow morning. TSSA's ballot, which closes on 29 November, is expected to see their members join the action. Locally, several TSSA reps have been urging their members to respect RMT's ban.

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No Interviews in Cabs

Bothered as they are about interviews taking drivers away from their precious time on the handle, management have a solution - do the interviews in the cab! Yep, they seem to think a manager can hop in and run through the questions while you sit at the controls.

We won't insult anyone's intelligence by listing the reasons why this is absurd and unacceptable. But don't think that just because it is absurd and unacceptable, the company won't do it if they think they can get away with it.

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Interserve's job cut hit station safety

Interserve's latest job cuts are affecting station safety. With weather issues such as rain, build up of leaves, and potential frost and ice beginning to affect open-section stations at this time of year, forcing one cleaner to clean up to four stations means vital cleaning isn't getting done.

If a passenger or members of staff is injured in an avoidable accident due to water or rubbish build up on a station, we need to make sure our unions place the blame squarely where it belongs: at the feet of Interserve and their disastrous job cuts policy.

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Added Bonus

A recent agreement on trains means that all drivers who volunteered to work New Year's Eve will be booked on as spares, and get the bonus, in addition to any Night Tube drivers who work their rostered duties.

It's good that more drivers are getting the bonus. But it raises questions about why it's only paid to one grade.

(For more on this issue, click here.)

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Taking The Piss... And Worse?

Spare a thought for the staff, particularly cleaners, and passengers who had a nasty surprise at Oxford Circus late last month when a sewer pipe burst, leading to what might euphemistically be referred to as brown effluence leaking on the Argyll gate line and down towards the escalators.

A long-awaited refurb of the staff toilets was underway at the time. Tubeworker wonders whether the company LU hired to do the job might've botched it, leading to the... ahem... shitty situation.

Yet another argument for bringing maintenance work back in house.

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Rats!

LU workers and contractors who risk coming into contact with rats and mice in bin rooms and machines chambers are meant to be issued with medical briefing cards about leptospirosis (Weil's disease).

Some AGS agency cleaners on the Bakerloo, Central, and Victoria Lines have been denied these cards. AGS say it's Interserve's responsibility to provide them; Interserve say the agency must do it. Tubeworker would like to knock AGS and Interserve's proverbial heads together. Their buck-passing is putting cleaners' health at risk.

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I Spy RCIs?

Revenue Control Inspectors (RCIs) have increasingly been working in full uniform, whereas many operations were previously undertaken in plain clothes. LU's aim is clear: by putting more uniformed staff on stations, they're attempting to mask the impact of their job cuts. It makes it more difficult for the RCIs to do their job.

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Station staff ballot returns huge majorities for action: don't work overtime from 23 November! Prepare for strikes!

RMT's ballot of station staff for action against job cuts has returned thumping majorities for both strikes (85%) and action-short-of-strikes (94%). TSSA's ballot is expected back next week.

RMT has called an overtime ban from 23 November. With the staffing levels slashed to a bare minimum post-“Fit for the Future”, coverage is almost unworkably stretched, and many stations are now totally reliant on overtime. An effective ban will lead to dozens of station closures, sending a very direct message to the company that they must increase the staffing level.

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Snaresbrook stabbing highlights safety concerns

One sometimes wonders just how bad an incident would have to occur for LU to realise their current staffing levels are unsafe.

Someone was stabbed at Snaresbrook station after getting off a Night Tube service on 22 October. Stations at the east end of the Central Line are frequently single-staffed, or not staffed at all. Whether we are able to deal with incidents like this is almost down to pot luck, depending on whether the station in question happens to have staff at the time.

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Stations Ballot: Vote Yes/Yes!

RMT has begun balloting members on stations for strikes, and action short of strikes, against the fallout from "Fit for the Future". Tubeworker encourages all readers to vote yes/yes!

Our correspondents at the latest round of "Managing Our Stations" training courses at Ashfield House tell us that new LU Managing Director Mark Wild attended, and when put on the spot about cuts, admitted that LU had cut too deep and that the current model was unworkable! You couldn't make it up.

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Support Southern Strikers!

Our brothers and sisters on Southern Rail are continuing their fight against job cuts. Southern bosses want to introduce “Driver Only Operation” (DOO), de-skilling the safety critical role of the guard.

The dispute has been incredibly bitter: Southern bosses have tried both bribery, offering workers a £2,000 bung to accept new contracts, and intimidation, threatening to sack workers who don’t accept new roles.

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North Greenwich Terror Alert

A controlled explosion was carried out on a suspect package at North Greenwich Tube station on 20 October, highlighting the ongoing possibility of a further terrorist atrocity on London Underground. Nobody was injured this time and the diligence and professionalism of the workers involved must be recognised.

On 7/7, frontline London Underground staff were amongst the first to respond, rushing to incident scenes, arranging and facilitating emergency service response, and evacuating passengers to safety at stations across London.

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NT 4 NYE?

Management on trains side recently tried to pull a fast one on Night Tube drivers, saying that New Years' Eve working, for which there is a bonus, would be allocated to existing full-time staff, and Night Tubers (who will be rostered to work, as NYE falls on a Saturday) would have to take annual leave! Aslef initially backed this position.

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Booking-On App? No Thanks

LUL's boffins have come up with an app to have station staff book on with our iPads. Yep, turn up to work, don't bother signing in or exchanging pleasantries with the CSM or CSS - just take up your place and get on with it. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, Tubeworker could not imagine what use someone might find for said app if they are running late for work. And we can't imagine why anyone would want to check that you are fit for duty, or just generally OK. Heaven forbid.

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Wot No Overground Staff?

London Overground plans to remove all its staff from stations run by LUL from next month.

At these stations - such as Canada Water and Highbury & Islington - Overground staff are an essential complement to Underground staff, dealing with incidents, last trains, passenger assistance and so on. Taking them away is an unacceptable cut to Overground jobs and an extra workload for Underground staff at those locations.

Management of both companies are in a flap now their plans have been rumbled. We need more staff not fewer - and we can stop this cut!

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Defend Nigel Banks!

Nigel Banks works at Ealing Common Depot. He recently apprehended a trespassing vandal, copping a load of racist abuse and threats of violence for his trouble. LU gave him an award (delivered by Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths, no less!) to thank him for preventing the vandalism.

But now his depot manager has shopped him to the cops, for allegedly assaulting the trespasser. This is despite the trespasser not pressing any charges himself! Nigel now faces a CDI.

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How Moving

The situation for many station staff regarding movements, transfers, and promotions is dreadful. Many of us were displaced into locations we never asked to go to and now seemingly have no way of getting out, while others of us who want to stay where we are face forcible displacement.

It's all the chaotic consequence of an unnecessary regrading and cuts programme.

Here's Tubeworker's novel suggestion: employ enough staff to do the work, and only move us if we've volunteered (either via applying for promotion or by requesting a move).

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Make It A Hot Autumn!

In 1969, a wave of strikes by workers in Italy’s car industry was nicknamed “autonno caldo”, the “hot autumn”. As August turns in September, it’s time to start building for our own “hot autumn” on LU.

Stations

RMT previously suggested it will ballot stations and revenue staff for renewed strikes against the consequences of “Fit for the Future” in September. Time's running out for that; a reps' meeting is scheduled for 26 September, but it's now looking unlikely there'll be a ballot underway before the end of the month.

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Drivers' Strikes

There's another drivers' strike coming down the line, following a strike by engineering train drivers over the weekend.

RMT and Aslef members struck as part of a dispute over pay and conditions. They've already won a 6.3% pay rise, and are pushing for further concessions on issues including rostering.

RMT drivers on the Hammersmith and City Line are due to strike on 15-16 September, as they fight to rein in an authoritarian management.

If the issues aren't resolved to workers' satisfaction, further action is a must!

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Self-demotion?

Some station staff have received a letter from management about 'self-demotion', setting out the terms of the pay cut that will apply should you sign your agreement.

(This is supposed to be only for staff who have preferenced to work in a lower grade than their substantive grade. So if that doesn't apply to you and you got one anyway, then object.)

But for those who have preferenced a lower grade, is it fair to treat this a self-demotion and apply a pay cut?

TMS Stress

Ticket Machine Servicing (TMS) training is now a compulsory aspect of the CSA2 training programme at Ashfield House. That means LU is saving £13,000 per year per worker graduating from that course: CSA2s are being paid £23k p/a to do work that a SAMF used to get £36k for. It's an almighty con.

When RMT (and, we hope, TSSA) relaunch disputes over the fallout from "Fit for Fuck All", they should make this scandal one of the issues around which we build demands.

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Time For Strikes

The week is ending on a downer for LU station staff, as we discover that management will impose a "Transfer and Promotions" policy that essentially allows them to move us around as and when it suits them, giving us little to no say in the matter.

Displacements will hit our already dismal work/life balance yet further. Again and again, management show that they do not see us human beings with social and family lives, but as equipment.

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