Tubeworker's blog

Tube Lines strike ballot rains on Night Tube parade?

Tube Lines engineering and maintenance workers have voted by over 85% for strikes, after LU refused to discuss ongoing pensions issues until after the launch of Night Tube.

Pensions is just one of a series of struggles Tube Lines workers currently face: there are also outstanding issues relating to pay, and Night Tube staffing levels.

The huge majority for strikes, and the even bigger one for action short of strikes, shows the strength of feeling on these issues.

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Wanted: Extra Arms

Reports from across the network suggest that the only way for station staff to cope in the post-Fit for the Future world is to grow additional sets of arms, and possibly legs, or possibly to clone themselves, allowing them to be in several places, staffing several gatelines or several sets of ticket machines, at once.

Cuts to staffing levels, and the demand that every grade carries out additional duties, mean that there simply aren't enough of us to do the work required.

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1 + 1 = accessibility?

Lack of station staff is causing many issues for disabled passengers who use the Tube.

Tubeworker hears that stations with lifts have become less accessible since staffing levels have been cut. Most stations with lifts are now staffed for much of the day by the bare minimum number of staff required to stay open (1 +1, i.e. one supervisor and one CSA). During these times, staff are not allowed to use the lifts in case the lifts get stuck. Two staff must always be available to evacuate the station and deal with lift failures.

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Wot No Formal Investigation?

Tubeworker is beginning to wonder just how major an incident has to be before Central Line management will carry out a formal investigation.

Tree falling by the line and damaging trains? Nah. Tunnel roof falling in? Nah. Stabbing causing serious injuries? Nah.

Management seem to think that all these can be dealt with by local reports or 'workshops'. Perhaps that makes it easier for them to gloss over their own failings and blame staff? Without a formal investigation, who knows?

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Wot No Formal Investigation?

Tubeworker is beginning to wonder just how major an incident has to be before Central Line management will carry out a formal investigation.

Tree falling by the line and damaging trains? Nah. Tunnel roof falling in? Nah. Stabbing causing serious injuries? Nah.

Management seem to think that all these can be dealt with by local reports or 'workshops'. Perhaps that makes it easier for them to gloss over their own failings and blame staff? Without a formal investigation, who knows?

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Wot No Leave Swap?

Station staff whose roles are fully interchangeable and apply to swap leave are getting a big unreasonable No.

Say you are two former SAMFs, one covering down CSA1, the other covering down CSA2, then there is no reason why you could not swap leave.

No good reason, anyway. There is, however, the LUL reason aka. computer says no.

If this happens to you, don't accept it. Insist on your rights.

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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