Tubeworker's blog

Merry Brownmas

So, the company is skint, right? So skint it has to make savings in the form of closing every ticket office and cutting nearly 1,000 jobs, right?

Right, but apparently not too skint to send each of us, personally, a Christmas card from top boss Mike Brown.

Tubeworker thinks the money might be better spent elsewhere. Of course, in the new-think propaganda world of LU senior managers this is a lovely gesture; Christmas card in one hand, P45 in the other.

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Interserve cleaners: organise against bullying and exploitation!

As Tubeworker reported on 17 November, RMT is planning to ballot its members working for Interserve on the BCV (Bakerloo, Central,and Victoria Lines) contract for strikes..

The dispute mirrors a dispute involving Interserve cleaners at Waterloo mainline station (for more, see here).

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Survey shows public don't want ticket offices to close

LU has now announced its timetable for the closure of ticket offices throughout 2015. You can view the schedule here.

The company seems determined to streamroller ahead with its closures plan, despite a survey from London TravelWatch, the independent travel watchdog for TfL, clearly showing that passengers don't want ticket offices to close.

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LUL Dismisses Vicky Hayward Appeal - Time For Action!

Vicky Hayward remains sacked after management threw out her Appeal. Once again, managers closed ranks and sided with each other to deny justice to a member of staff. The company's entire "case" against Vicky - such as it is - consists of believing everything that a manager speculates and disbelieving everything that Vicky says.

Vicky has done nothing wrong. She had a accident at work. A local manager decided that she made it up and concocted a biased and incomplete "investigation" to back up his prejudgment.

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Roll Your Sleeves Up

When the cleaning contract for Bakerloo, Central and Victoria lines passed from Initial to Interserve, cleaners were left waiting long into winter for their new winter coat with 'Interserve' embazoned across it. Corporate branding was more important than its workforce's comfort.

The long-awaited coats are now here. But Interserve has supplied them in just two sizes: 'medium' and 'extra large'. The 'medium' coat comes down below the knees and your hands are where your elbows should be. You can't use a litter picker to do your job without rolling your sleeves up.

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Strike solid at Morden

RMT reps and activists were feeling rightly chuffed with themselves on the picket line at Morden train crew depot this morning (1 December).

A majority of members of both RMT and ASLEF showed support for the strike for the reinstatement of sacked train driver Alex McGuigan. LU had to run a special service in the morning peak. By late morning, reps estimated around 13 out of 50 drivers had booked on; the car park was no way near as busy as usual.

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Support the Northern Line drivers' strike!

Alex McGuigan, a Northern Line driver at the Mordern depot with 29 years' service, was unjustly sacked by London Underground after he failed a breathalyser test which failed to take his Type-2 diabetes (which can trigger false positives) into account, and after which the company failed to test his urine sample for alcohol (testing it only for drugs, then destroying it).

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Northern Line drivers, Waterloo & City service controllers, Interserve cleaners: prepare to strike!

Northern Line drivers

A strike ballot for RMT driver members at the Morden depot on the Northern Line closes tomorrow (18 November). The strike is to demand reinstatement for Alex McGuigan, a Northern Line driver and RMT member with 29 years' service, who was unfairly sacked after a breathalyser test gave a positive reading but didn't take into account his Type-2 Diabetes or test his urine sample.

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Problems On Machines

Has your station had the new software installed on the POMs?

Has queuing time increased?

Can this be solely down to customers' unfamiliarity with a new system, or is it, in fact, due to the new interface is more confusing and harder to use?

Do the AFMs, because of new cashing up processes, go into "cards only" mode alarmingly quickly, leading to waves of disgruntled customers demanding answers from already-overworked gateline staff?

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Every Job in Every Grade Matters

With Fit For the Future - Stations in our faces, it is perhaps easy to forget that attacks on jobs in other grades are also on LUL management's agenda. That, of course, is what they would like us to do: think the attack is only on one group of grades. That way, they can pick us off one group at a time, relying on other grades thinking 'This is nothing to do with us, why should we strike for others?'.

Meanwhile, LUL have started the commissioning for driverless trains, and BoJo has unveiled a design. And jobs continue to be pared away in engineering, fleet, admin and elsewhere.

When RMT launched its fight against the job cuts last year, it called it 'Every Job Matters'. This was not just a witty take on the company's cheesy 'Every Journey Matters' slogan, but a clear statement that the campaign is about every job in every grade. It's not the 'stations dispute' or the 'ticket offices dispute' - it's all our dispute.

The union itself could do more to make this clear - to openly campaign against, and when the time comes strike against - all these threats together. Workers in different grades should stand up for each other, but in the current situation, it is even simpler than that: every grade has its own reason to strike, to defend its own jobs.

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Who's at fault for assaults?

Tubeworker was pleased to hear that LU's "Golden Rules for Avoiding Conflict at the Gateline" (last updated: 2010) is being redistributed to staff.

This helpful document reminds us all that, if we're assaulted at work, it's essentially our fault, as we must've failed to follow some of the "golden rules".

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We Want A Ticket Office Not A Tesco

Rumours abound that LUL and Tesco are in talks to close Shepherd's Bush ticket office as early as February and turn into (yet another) Tesco.

The slight problem with this plan is that you don't need a ready meal to travel, you need a ticket.

This is a nightmarish vision of our future workplace. Confronted with this impending dystopia, we hope that staff and passengers alike will rise up and say no. It's not too late to save our ticket offices.

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Off the catwalk, back to the drawing board?

New uniform day is finally here, hurrah! Lucky staff at the stations selected to participate in the trial will be unveiling the shiny new clobber, with attendant media/company fanfare. What fun!

Best not mention the huge numbers of participating staff who were sent the wrong-sized gear, or not enough of it. Best not mention that early reports indicate the "cold-weather" stuff doesn't actually keep you warm. We wouldn't want to be off-message.

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Yes, it's me, VOICEOVER MAN... from THE X FACTOR!

"Remembrance" is a sensitive subject. Workers' Liberty, the group which publishes Tubeworker, has been critical of the official discourse of remembrance, which glorifies war and the colonial projects for which working-class men and women were sent to die in conflicts like World War One. How we remember wars, and those who fought and died in them, is not somewhat above or outside politics: we can sympathise with the suffering, and sometimes the sacrifice, of the war dead without tacitly supporting militarism, nationalism, or imperialism.

Support the firefighters' strike!

From 6pm tonight (31 October), members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will begin a four-day strike, part of their ongoing fight to stop attacks to their pensions.

As fellow public-service workers resisting austerity-driven cuts, London Underground staff should fully support the firefighters' action.

Trade Unions: 

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Getting the numbers right

Tubeworker received a report of local management trying to cut corners on safety by using medically-restricted staff to make up minimum numbers at a Zone 1 station.

That is technically within the letter of the law, but staff and union reps argued that the staff needed more cover to carry out all potential duties, and demanded extra staff.

Just like in the Stonebridge Park case, management backed down, and agreed extra cover for all affected shifts.

Standing your ground gets results!

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Beating lone working

Workers stood firm when local management attempted to introduce lone working at Stonebridge Park.
Management wanted to use lone-working to carry out late-shift detrainments, arguing that the presence of security contractors provided adequate support.

They backed down after being challenged by union reps and members, and lone working was withdrawn.

Lone working is set to massively increase under "Fit for the Future". We need to fight the cuts that will see it spread, and take a stand to stop it creeping into more stations before "Fit for the Future" is even in place.

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Wot No Vacancy Filling?

It's good to see LUL recruiting some new CSAs - not that the company had any choice, as it's stations would have closed without them.

What is less good is that they are being placed over-establishment at stations, including at stations which have vacancies. The existing staff at the top of the waiting lists for those vacancies are not being allowed to move into them!

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Solidarity with the Kurds!

The struggle of the Kurdish people, especially in the city of Kobane in "Syrian" Kurdestan, against the genocidal, clerical-fascism of the "Islamic State" is as inspiring as the situation as a whole is tragic.

Tubeworker was pleased to see that the Central Line East branch of the RMT passed an excellent motion in support of the Kurds, which you can read here.

Reinstate Vicky Hayward!

Bank group CSA Vicky Hayward has become the latest victim of spate of draconian sackings and disciplinary procedures that has already seen Alex McGuigan and Noel Roberts sacked, and Supervisor Glen Hart disciplined for simply doing his job.

Vicky has been sacked despite a total lack of evidence. The case against her relied on manager's statements about what they said they'd seen on CCTV footage... footage that neither Vicki nor her union rep were given access to.

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Every Job Matters: what we've won, and what we could win...

The strikes planned for 14-16 October were called off, after RMT negotiators decided the concessions won from LU management were enough to suspend the action. Those concessions are real, and will make a difference to workers' lives.

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Prepare for action!

The RMT's General Grades Committee met today (Monday 6 October), and decided that further action in our "Every Job Matters" dispute will be necessary to force management back on their cuts and closures plan. Starting for the night turns next Tuesday (14th), we will be striking for 48 hours. This is very welcome news. Failure to act now would have given a green light (or green aspect!) to the Mayor and the management to go ahead with their savage cuts plans.

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Thirty Minutes?

Management's offer that no-one will be displaced more than 30 minutes travelling time from your current location sounds quite good, doesn't it?

Don't celebrate yet, though: not until you've sat down with a map and worked out how far that can take you. For most central London stations, 30 minutes takes you so far out of the centre that more than half of the total number of stations are in scope!

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Defend Glen Hart!

After LU abused its own procedures to sack Alex McGuigan and Noel Roberts (click here to read about those cases), it has now stood down Station Supervisor Glen Hart for following the rulebook and closing his station when it fell below minimum staffing numbers.

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LU: wake up to our lack of sleep!

An item on LU's intranet entitled "Are we getting enough sleep?" has prompted responses from many of us.

The Intranet tells us LU will use a "Readiband" watch-type tool, which "detects the wearer's quality of sleep and wake periods", to measure the impact of fatigue on the team working on the Bank tunnelling project.

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