Tubeworker's blog

Why Tube workers support the anti-DOO strikes

Many of us on London Underground have been inspired by the ongoing strikes on Southern, which have now spread to Northern and MerseyRail.

Workers at those companies are striking against their bosses' attempts to impose "Driver Only Operation", downgrading the safety-critical role of the guard, allowing trains to run with only one safety-trained member of staff on board.

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Organise to beat the anti-union laws

The latest anti-union laws mean that Tube strikes will need, proportionally, a bigger vote than is necessary to form a government in a general election.

These new anti-worker laws require that: “All ballots for industrial action must have a turnout of at least 50% of members ... A simple majority must be in support of industrial action before it can go ahead. In addition, ballots for industrial action where the members work in providing important public services must also have the support of at least 40% of those members.”

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The capitalist paper with the public service monopoly

For a capitalist paper which believes in the power of the free market, the Evening Standard seems to do very well without competition on the public railway.

The paper routinely attacks workers and attempts to push an anti-union agenda; sometimes with several articles calling for Tube strikes to be banned in a single issue. And for the millions of daily commuters there is no alternative voice on the Tube, other than this anti-worker Tory propaganda piece.

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All grades must prepare to defend London Bridge 3

Any of us could be assaulted whilst carrying out our duties or whilst travelling to or from our workplace. London Underground has shown that if we defend ourselves they will sack us.

That is what happened to a worker on London Bridge station. An appeal has just upheld that outrageous sacking. A couple of other workers have been given warnings by tube bosses too for the incident which saw a pregnant tube worker punched in the stomach and other workers punched and head butted by a passenger.

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Solidarity against terror and racism

Tubeworker sends its sympathies and condolences to the families of those killed and injured in today's attack at Westminster.

As we write, the identity of the attacker is not public, nor their political affiliations. The police are treating the incident as a terrorist attack. Whatever they are, there is no justification for the kind of wanton, brutal attack they carried out.

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Out All Night!

Night Tube drivers in both RMT and Aslef will strike on 8-9 and 29-30 April.

RMT members voted by a whopping 96% majority for the strikes.

The drivers are fighting for a fair system of transfer and progression from part-time roles into full-time ones, and a fair system of overtime payments.

Brakes Not Working? We're Not Driving

Action today by Piccadilly line drivers has forced management to ensure the safety of the fleet.

Drivers have been telling the line's management for ages that there is a problem with the brakes. But while LUL was denying it - preferring instead to blame 'driver incompetence' - Tube Lines decided that a mechanical change was needed (implying that there had been a fault after all). Unfortunately, the technical fix made matters worse not better, as the new microswitches did not work properly and interfered with the downloads!

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Yesterday morning saw the Central line service up the wall after an engineering train derailed as it crossed the points on the way into a siding at White City around the time of start of traffic.

Over-stretched and short-handed station staff - still not feeling the full benefit of their recent victory over staff cuts - had to deal with grumpy passengers for most of the day, while drivers had to deal with late running and changes to schedules.

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Deal With It?

Word reaches Tubeworker HQ of an incident at Snaresbrook recently.

A driver pulling in on the eastbound noticed a gentleman on a walking stick fall over. With no station staff available to assist, the driver was told by the controller that the affected individual would have to deal with things on his own!

This is the same station where a stabbing occurred recently, and it was during the evening peak. Maybe if someone has a heart attack, LU bosses will say they should deal with it on their own too.

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Fleet workers vote for strikes

Back in January, we reported on an imminent ballot on Fleet, in a dispute over a range of issues, including job cuts.

The ballot has now concluded, returning a 68% majority for strikes and an 89% majority for action-short-of-strikes.

Hopefully RMT will crack on and get strike dates named, ideally coordinating them with other ongoing disputes across the job, including the Central Line drivers' fight against forced displacements.

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More Trouble at Victoria's New Entrance

Another tragedy occurred outside the new Cardinal Place entrance to Victoria Underground Station at around 15:00 yesterday (23 February) as a man sustained life-changing injuries as part of the entrance signage came free and hit him in the head during high winds and very close in proximity to the very spot where a man suffered a fatal heart attack at the same entrance recently.

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Wot No Control Staff

A new manager comes in, wants to make a name for himself, clamps down on overtime, interferes with established ways of ensuring coverage, and guess what happens?

Yup. Not enough control staff to run the subsurface and Piccadilly lines last night. No problems for our intrepid new guvnor: the control room equipment can run itself! No, it can't. Still no problem: the staff can work through their meal reliefs. Er, no they can't.

Result: job up wall.

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Night Fight

RMT and Aslef have now declared disputes with LU over issues affecting Night Tube drivers: their exclusion from full-time jobs, and the unfair application of the overtime rate (full-time drivers get OT payments for any hours worked over 35/week, for example in the result of delays, suspensions, etc., but as Night Tube drivers, on 16-hour contracts, will never hit this threshold, they get no extra pay if their duties overrun).

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Bosses at stations across the combine are threatening to take away water coolers from staff mess rooms, apparently due to the provider's contract expiring.

Staff have been told to drink from the regular tap. Pictures obtained by Tubeworker show that these taps are caked in scum and limescale, and certainly not suitable to drink from (see below; or, if you're reading this on Facebook, click the link to view the picture on our blog). Access to proper drinking water is a basic requirement for dignity and health and safety at work.

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ISS: Give Us Our Holidays Back!

ISS cleaners checked this year's annual leave allocation and found that they are missing a day.

The system shows 27 instead of 28 days. ISS seems to have nicked a day from every cleaner and has not yet responded to RMT's request for an explanation.

Tubeworker is pretty sure we can explain: penny-pinching on holiday pay means more profit for ISS off the backs of the cleaners.

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Cutaway Away

Tower Hill's Area Manager Stations had the bright idea of introducing a written contract for cutaways and long meal breaks for dead early turns (but no-one else). Of course, this involved losing such 'privileges' if you were naughty.

Seemingly, said manager does not understand the concept of goodwill, or of staff being able to sort things out for ourselves. But after a quick reminder, the contract was withdrawn and normal service resumed.

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Solid ETO Action Brings Win Closer

As Engineering Train Operators remain solid in their dispute with Tube Lines, union negotiators are close to reaching a satisfactory settlement. While the 6.3% pay rise has been agreed, management want to hold half of it back until after productivity improvements have been put in place.

Some of their changes are OK, but our right to a pay rise can not be dependant on management getting their way.

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Central Line drivers: all out for 21-22 February!

The dispute against forced displacements of drivers from depots at the east end of the Central Line is continuing. Following a totally solid strike on 25-26 January, RMT has called further action for 21-22 February.

Tubeworker is pleased to see that, following a ballot of their own over the same issue, Aslef drivers will be joining them.

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Dust To Dust

A recent study by scientists at the University of Surrey has found that Tube users are exposed to eight times the level of harmful pollutants of car users.

The scientists rightly highlighted this as a class issue, showing that those who can afford to own and run a car are exposed to fewer health risks than those who have to rely on public transport. Bus users are also exposed to five times the pollution of car users.

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The death of passenger Bernard Ovu at Canning Town station is a tragedy, and our thoughts are with his loved ones. But there are also lessons to be learned about staffing of Night Tube stations.
Plenty of stations now run Underground services all night but have areas of the station which close after the last train on non-Night Tube lines or other train operating companies' services - and we have our own non-public areas. What we don't have is enough staff to check all these areas.

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Protect migrants' rights: hands off our workmates!

Parliament recently voted by 332-290 against a proposal to guarantee the rights of all EU nationals currently resident in the UK after Britain leaves the European Union. This means that they could be forced to leave the country under the terms of any "Brexit" settlement.

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Go, Look, Sexism

A set of Bostwick gates at Victoria is dragging rather more than it ought to, so management have come up with an ingenious solution - women staff are not to handle the gates.

Yes, you read that right. In the sort of blatant, in-your-face sexism that is rarely seen these days (not because there is little sexism, but because it is usually less blatant), a 'Go Look See' visit has come up with this pitiful response.

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Cleaners For Sale

ISS, one of the major contractors on London Underground, has given notice that 31 December will be the last day of their contract. ISS cleaners have no idea who they'll be working for after that. Vinci has also served notice. Although Interserve is thought to be a leading bidder for the new "super contract", Interserve cleaners have no firm information either. We will all be sold off to the highest (or, in fact, the cheapest!) bidder like modern-day slaves.

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Stations dispute wins concessions: celebrate the wins, organise to push for more!

RMT suspended strikes planned for 5-8 February, and called off its overtime ban. The suspension of action was a response to a new proposal from LU, made in Acas negotiations on Thursday 2 February, which involves some significant concessions. These include 325 additional jobs, and guaranteed promotion for all existing CSA2s to CSA1.

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An Open Letter To a London Transport User: Why You Should Support the #TubeStrike

Dear London Transport User,

As you probably know by now, we (that is, London Underground station staff) are planning further strikes over 5-8 February. Many news reports focus almost exclusively not on the reasons behind our strikes, but on the impact it will have on you, the people who use the services our labour makes possible.

I'm writing this letter, as an LU station worker and supporter of the strikes, to urge you to resist our employer's, and the media's, attempts to turn you against us, and explain why you should support our strike.

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Threat Of Strikes Forces New Offer From LU: Keep Strikes On To Win More!

RMT has named new strike dates in the station staffing dispute, from 18:00 on 5 February to 10:00 on 6 February, and from 10:00 on 7 February to 00:59 on 8 February.

In response, LU has made us a new offer. They're proposing to reinstate 325 jobs, re-staff most (but not all) the control rooms they de-staffed, and establish a promotion pathway to CSA1 for existing CSA2s.

This all requires a bit of unpicking.

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Broken Rails

Victoria line rails broke clean through twice in the space of three days last week. Given that this usually happens only once a month across the whole network, you'd think it would set the alarm bells ringing.

It has certainly set management's excuse-mongering machine rolling.

While telling us that they don't yet have a full report, management seem happy to suggest that the problem was caused during welding or installation. Without actually using the word 'conicidence', management imply it by stating that the two incidents do not have the same root cause.

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Stuck Under the River

The delights of driverless trains were plain for all to see as a DLR train got stuck in the tunnel under the river for over an hour yesterday.

It was undoubtedly a deeply unpleasant experience for the passengers, packed like sardines during the morning peak when it may have been freezing outside but it was sweltering in the train.

It took an hour for engineers to reach the stranded passengers and for a rescue train to get them out.

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