Tubeworker's blog

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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Bring It All In House!

The full reintegration of former "TubeLines" engineering maintenance work on the Jubilee, Northern, and Piccadilly Lines into LUL represents the culmination of a years-long union campaign to bring outsourced work back in house. Their continued outsourcing was a legacy of the disastrous "Public Private Partnership".

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Defend - And Extend! - The Core Work Agreement

A strike ballot is imminent for RMT members on fleet, as they resist the company's breaches of the Core Work Agreement.

This agreement, hard won in struggle, places clear restrictions on the amount of agency labour the company can use, and guarantees that all the integral work will be done by directly-employed LU staff. Management have been cutting corners with the agreement for some time: it has to stop.

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Strikes Ahead On H&C

RMT drivers at the Edgware Road and Hammersmith depots on the Hammersmith and City Line have voted by big majorities for strikes. The timing opens up the possibility for H&C drivers to take action on the same day as the next strike days on Southern, on 7-8 September, which would be an excellent symbol of unity.

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Platform CCTV Shambles

On the Jubilee Line at Wembley Park, there as in issue with the in cab CCTV. It sometimes shows the opposite platform as you depart. If the timing is right (or wrong) it can look as though the doors have opened and people are getting off as you move along, because passengers are disembarking the train in the opposite platform.

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More Secret Trials On The Jubilee Line?

New equipment has been put on some Jubilee Line trains that allows management, controllers and maintainers to get near live info from the trains equipment. It is transmitted via station WiFi. It would probably feel less like being spied on had we been told what was being done, before it was done.

Did bosses not think that when a new MCB appeared in our cabs, that professional and diligent train drivers would not want to know what it was for and whether we should use it?

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Terminating Here

Spare a thought for staff at Loughton station on the first Night Tube night.

The Night Tube service only goes as far as Loughton, so it's a terminal station at night, with all that entails. So you'd think there would be more than one person rostered to work there? Sadly not.

Fortunately, there were a couple of extra pairs of hands available on this particular night, which is just as well.

For nearly an hour, the job was up the wall with a signal failure, and with little information given to the station, there wasn't much to tell passengers.

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Terminating Here

Spare a thought for staff at Loughton station on the first Night Tube night.

The Night Tube service only goes as far as Loughton, so it's a terminal station at night, with all that entails. So you'd think there would be more than one person rostered to work there? Sadly not.

Fortunately, there were a couple of extra pairs of hands available on this particular night, which is just as well.

For nearly an hour, the job was up the wall with a signal failure, and with little information given to the station, there wasn't much to tell passengers.

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WTF ASLEF?

Tubeworker was disappointed to read a circular from Aslef reps telling their members to grass up CSAs who they spotted using their company-issue iPads on the platforms while doing SATS.

In fact, CSAs are encouraged to have our iPads with us on platforms, to check TrackerNet and answer customer queries. It doesn't mean we're not vigilant when dispatching trains.

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Down in the Tube Station at Midnight

Management are happily slapping each others' backs after the "successful" launch of Night Tube. The media scrum around the Mayor and the 50,000 first-night journeys made good headlines for them. Oh, and there were no actual disasters.

Still, it wasn't them cleaning up vomit, trying to wake unconscious drunks on the platform, or waiting hours for ambulances because under-funding has reduced the ambulance service to only attending people in danger of dying.

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Call Time On Overtime

Ask any member of station staff from a central London station, and plenty from outer zones too, how their station is surviving on its post-"Fit for the Future" bare-minimum numbers, and you’re likely to get the same answer: overtime.

At large Zone 1 stations, the lists of uncovered duties run to several pages per week. Stations are often only kept open because staff agree to come early or stay late.

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Wot No Training?

Training for station staff still seems to be in a total state post-”Fit for the Future”.

There are huge training backlogs on many groups, meaning few staff have the “TSIDs” required to float or service machines. Staff who’ve been displaced to lift stations are still waiting for lift training and familiarisation.

CDP has been cut right back, with LU’s latest wheeze a two-day “managing our stations” course. Is two days really enough to refresh the operational skills necessary to do our jobs?

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Timetable Trauma

The new timetable on the Central line is causing headaches all round.

Management imposed the new drivers' rosters with precious little notice, invoking their right to do so as it was an 'emergency'. However, the only emergency seems to be that they couldn't get their act together to do it in good time!

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Interserve plans more cuts

Cleaning company Interserve is rattling towards another restructure, which will see work consolidated so fewer cleaners are looking after more stations, and hours cut, leading to a reduction in take-home pay.

AGS contractors may bear the brunt of the cuts, as they're the easiest for Interserve to dismiss.

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Drivers' Ballots

RMT is balloting drivers on the Victoria Line, in a dispute over the Night Tube rosters. Reps weren’t properly consulted, and the new rosters threaten work/life balance.

Meanwhile, engineering train drivers are demanding pay parity, after some were awarded a 6.3% pay increase that workers rightly insist should apply to all of them. RMT is also balloting its members in this grade.

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Pool Problem

Pool drivers at Barking depot on the Hammersmith and City line have been getting heartily fed up of being sent to cover duties at Edgware Road and Hammersmith depots.

Under the line pool agreements, pool drivers don’t get paid travelling time when they are sent in this way. But management were breaching their own agreements and sending drivers to other depots when there were uncovered duties at Barking - an issue raised by local reps, who have got the practice stopped.

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Drivers: Say No To Framework-Busting Trial!

The trial of a four-day week on the Jubilee Line could begin soon. The trial will see drivers working the same weekly hours but over four days rather than five. That means longer shifts of up to 10 hours when a meal break is included. And not just longer shifts, but longer "handle time." Maximum driving time without a break will go up significantly.

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ISS: Investigate Now!

Cleaning contractor ISS has withdrawn the graffiti remover they issue to cleaners, after evidence emerged that it is harmful, including potentially to unborn children.

It's scandalous that cleaners have had to work with a dangerous chemical.

ISS should now conduct a full investigation, with full participation by union reps, into the chemical's effects on cleaners, and be prepared to pay compensation if any ailments can be linked to it.

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Slimer Returns!

Recent heavy rainfall led to serious flooding at many stations, including Balham. Maintenance workers put bright green dye in the water supply to identify exactly where the flooding was originating, making the station look like it had been attacked by Slimer from Ghostbusters.

Incidents like this, as well as recent leakage problems at Oxford Circus, show some serious deficiencies in basic infrastructural maintenance. Years of budget cuts and outsourcing of maintenance work can't have helped.

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Something In The Air Tonight

A recent article in Time Out magazine reminded readers of a study by scientists at University College London, which concluded that the air quality on the Tube is so poor that spending 20 minutes on the Northern Line has an equivalent effect on the lungs as smoking a cigarette.

If that's the case, what effect does a two-hour SATS duty have? Or a night shift in the tunnel for track workers? Or the eight hours that cleaners often spend at platform level?

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Customer Service Managers: Side With Us, Don't Fuck With Us!

There's much to object to in the new grading system imposed as part of "Fit for the Future", not least the fact that we're all now doing work previously done by the grade above us for no extra money. But one particularly invidious aspect is the delegation of disciplinary power down to "shop floor" level. With Customer Service Managers (CSMs), most of whom are former Station Supervisors, now empowered to discipline other staff, we're now working alongside people who can directly discipline us for the first time.

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