Tubeworker's blog

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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?

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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".

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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: 

Tubeworker topics: 

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!

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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!

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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!

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

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.

Tubeworker topics: 

ISS cleaners vote to strike: union must back them!

ISS cleaners have voted by a huge 92% majority in favour of striking, and taking action short of strikes, in their dispute against biometric fingerprinting machines. As yet, the RMT’s leadership has not named any action.

Some ISS cleaners have now been locked out for three months for participating in a union action (refusing to use the biometric machines). They have had to fight to win decent strike pay from the union during that period. Now some senior union leaders are saying there’s no more money to fund the cleaners’ fight.

Tubeworker topics: 

Falling Rocks

Yesterday morning, the job really did go right up the wall.

We reported just a few weeks back about lumps of concrete falling onto tracks and endangering life and limb. That time, it was on the Central Line, this time it's the Met/H&C.

The falling rock fouled the juice rails and the running rails, and it was only the alertness of a track workers that prevented a potentially-disastrous derailment.

Tubeworker topics: 

Ban's back on!

The RMT has reinstated its overtime ban in the "Every Job Matters" dispute, covering stations and revenue grades, effective from Wednesday 24 September.

Tubeworker thinks it was wrong to suspend the ban in the first place (see here), but it's positive that it's been put back on.

Tubeworker topics: 

Reinstate Noel and Alex!

Two Tube workers have been sacked by LU on entirely unjust grounds. The RMT is rightly fighting for reinstatement.

Noel Roberts has been "medically terminated" despite everyone from his GSM to his GP to LUOH agreeing that he's fit for work. After some time off, Noel has been back at work for 10 months and hasn't missed a single day. Management have stitched Noel up in order to get rid of him. Read more about his case here.

Tubeworker topics: 

Farewell Phil

So, Farewell Phil. You weren't here very long, but you managed to announce the closure of all ticket offices and a thousand job cuts before jumping ship and boarding HMS Network Rail.

We're sure it was tough, but equally sure that you were handsomely rewarded for your efforts, and will continue to be so in your new post.

Tubeworker topics: 

Fares Freeze?!

BoJo and TfL's spin machine announces that fares will be 'frozen', but goes on to define this as 'on average going up by the rates of inflation'.

So, not a fares freeze then. Many working-class people have not seen their wages go up in line with inflation, so the fares rise will be an increase in real terms - as well as cash terms - for them. Moreover, when the Mayor states that the inflation-rate rise will be 'on average', we can expect that to mean that some fares will rise by more than inflation.

Tubeworker topics: 

Dirty Drain

You could be taking a big risk if you take a swig of water in the Waterloo & City line depot.

The site used to be a chemical plant, and it seems that some of the chemicals might have, erm, lingered. In a recent test of the water, it tested positive for nine out of fifteen pollutants.

Yuk. No wonder it's known as 'The Drain'. It doesn't sound safe to work from to us.

Tubeworker topics: 

Card Clash

Does LU management seriously think that by pumping out repeated PAs about 'card clash', the introduction of contactless payment next week will go smoothly?

What about the (many) people who can't hear well, wear headphones, or just tune out and don't listen to announcements? We would have added 'don't understand English' to that list, but we've a feeling that the language of the PA script is actually LU jargon rather than plain English. Unless you're fluent in the lingo of 'card clash' and 'contactless', it's likely to go over your head.

Tubeworker topics: 


Subscribe to RSS - Tubeworker's blog