Tubeworker's blog

Eight Reasons Why Tubeworker will be Voting 'No' to the Pay / Night Tube Offer

As our unions put referendum papers into envelopes asking us to accept the pay / Night Tube offer, Tubeworker will be voting No, because:

1. It is a pay cut. National Insurance rules change in April, meaning that more will be deducted from our gross pay. Together with the rising cost of living, this means that we will have less money coming in and more going out.

2. LUL has given Area Managers 8% pay rises. Why should we settle for so much less?!

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How To Speak Management

TfL has devised a new editorial guide for a unified "tone of voice". It covers how to sound "proud", "honest", "trustworthy" and "warm". The guide suggests: instead of "utilise", try "use"; instead of "notify" use "tell"; and instead of "commence" say "start." How helpful.

In the spirit of this, Tubeworker has identified a few more curious synonyms that we've noticed LUL using in recent months and years.

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Strike For Your Future!

As London Underground prepares to impose “Fit for the Future” on three station groups from 7 February, and elsewhere from April, RMT has called a strike of all station staff from 21.00 on Saturday 6 February until 20.59 on Monday 8 February.

What we want

No member of station staff needs reminding what a nightmare “Fit for the Future” will be. We oppose the entire model, top to bottom. But even if we don’t force LU to abandon it, we can still win concessions. For example, we demand:

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Promotion without a Pay Rise

What's all this then?

It's a list of ticketing duties that LUL is now demanding that CSAs learn (in our own time) and get qualified in.

In other words, we will be selling tickets, doing all the things that SAMFs used to do except sit at a window. For and SAMF salary? No, for our CSA salary.

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Keeping an 'i' on us

Station staff will soon get a new app on our company-issued iPads. We will have to use it to book on and off at work. The times will be electronically recorded. Any lateness will be flagged up on the system and Customer Service Managers (the new job that Station Supervisor 1s are being forced to take up) will have to show that they have taken action on it or that too will be flagged up for more senior management to look into.

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Mind The Gap

According to stats dug out by a Freedom of Information request, PTI incidents have been increasing at such a rate that there were five times as many in 2014 than in 2003. The number of incidents rose every year between these two.

On what planet is the appropriate response to this to cut station staffing?!

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New Year’s Eve on the Cheap

We hear some stations managers have been staffing 24 hour New Year’s Eve on a budget. Rather than let people choose whether to work through the night and pay them an enhanced payment as a thank you, some managers moved reserve CSAs from dead lates to night shifts with only a few days’ notice. To add insult to injury, the reserve staff were told that they were not entitled to the enhanced payment because they hadn’t volunteered. What a delightful way to thank someone who has been forced to cancel their New Year’s plans!

LUL: As Long As You Sell Tickets, You Need to Pay a Ticket Seller!

As long as London Underground sells tickets, it will need qualified ticket sellers. LUL may have bricked up its ticket windows, but it still needs people to service the ticket machines and take responsibility for cash collections. When ticket machines fail to print tickets or keep customers’ money, or when customers buy the wrong ticket from the machines by mistake, LUL needs people who can process refunds according to procedure. Although LUL spent years preparing to close ticket offices by belittling the role of the ticket seller, the job remains an important and responsible one.

Drivers Refuse Unsafe Picc Trains

TfL's website claims a "temporary shortage of train operators" has caused a part suspension and severe delays on the Piccadilly line. What it doesn't tell readers is that this is because drivers are refusing to operate trains following a door opening on a train travelling through the tunnel under Heathrow airport.

After yesterday's incident, management could have made strenuous efforts to resolve the problem and verify that the fleet is safe. But no.

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Strikes are on: build, and push for more!

Aslef, RMT, and Unite have named strikes for 26-27 January, 15-16 February, and 17-18 February. Each strike is for 24 hours, commencing on the evening of the first day and continuing until the following evening. TSSA's leadership is meeting tomorrow and may join the action.

These strikes are part of the ongoing dispute over pay, terms and conditions, and the "Night Tube" settlement. The company's offer, tabled in November, is pretty shoddy, for reasons we set out at the time.

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Engineers: Vote Yes for Strikes!

Engineers in the RMT are currently taking part in two strike ballots, both concluding on 28 January.

TubeLines staff are being balloted for strikes over pay. Reps overwhelmingly rejected a settlement (which also covers proposed pay and terms conditions arrangements for the proposed "Night Tube") that was equivalent to the deal offered to LU staff, which unions have also rejected.

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Happy New Annual Season Ticket?

A happy new year to all Tubeworker readers. The new year brings a little unhappiness, though, to those of our "customers" who have to renew their annual ticket online because they can't do it on the POMs and there are no ticket offices. Finding this out when they turn up to the station planning to renew their ticket does not put a smile on the face of your average commuter - which then leads to grief for staff as well.

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Station grades: Overtime ban back on from 3 January, prepare for strikes!

LU has indicated it may rush to impose new contracts on station staff, particularly in the areas where it wants to launch “Fit for the Future” first (King’s Cross, and the east end of the Central Line).

Tubeworker is pleased that this has stirred RMT to reinstating an overtime ban on stations from 3 January, and to contemplate renewing strike action.

Night Tube Drivers: External Adverts or Internal Promotion?

So the company is advertising part-time Night Tube drivers' jobs. Here at Tubeworker, we like to see new jobs created and to see staff getting the opportunity to work reduced hours. And if Night Tube duties are done by part-timers who want to work those hours, then there will be no need for full-timers to work any extra night turns.

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Unfit For The Future

As staff on the east of the Central Line prepare to be guinea pigs in the “Fit for the Future” experiment, Tubeworker learns that two stations (Woodford and South Woodford) will have fewer ticket machines.

The multi-fare machines on the westbound side of both stations are being removed and taken to central London stations that are struggling to cope since the closure of their ticket offices.

This means that passengers who want to pay with a note will have to cross to the eastbound ticket hall.

Hardly a world-class service!

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New Contract Threat

LU has indicated it may rush to impose new contract on station staff, particularly in the areas where it wants to launch "Fit for the Future" first (King's Cross, and the east end of the Central Line).

It seems the company has grown tired of pretending it's interested in negotiating constructively with unions and plans to bulldoze its plans through.

A provocation of this kind needs a decisive response. It's time to strike.

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Cleaners Under Attack, Cleaners Fighting Back

Tubeworker has received reports of immigration police attempting to snatch cleaners from Stratford station. They're obviously there with the collusion of ISS, and probably LU, bosses. Tubeworker urges LU station staff not to collude with immigration raids. It is not our job to police our colleagues.

It wouldn't be the first time employers have used cleaners' immigration status as a weapon of class warfare. During ISS workers' strike against biometric fingerprinting last summer, a cleaner wrote:

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That's The Way To Do It!

RMT has announced not one, not two, but SEVENTEEN strike days on the DLR, including two four-day strikes, across the first four months of 2016.

DLR workers struck in November, bringing the network to a complete standstill. Now, instead of letting negotiations trundle on indefinitely, or announcing one or two more strikes of a day or two and seeing where that gets them, they've sent a very clear signal to management: multiple sets of strikes, all announced at once, escalating over several months.

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Leytonstone attack: unite against staffing cuts and racism

Tubeworker's thoughts today are with those injured in the knife attack at Leytonstone station last night - and with all our workmates and passengers who as a result are even more anxious about being around London Underground. We know from past experience that in times of war and terrorist activity, our job always becomes both more important and more stressful.

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Oblique Images, Obtuse Management Response

On crowded platforms, it can be hard for the train driver to see the "Platform Train Interface", particularly on a curved platform. This is what LUL calls an "oblique image" - where people on the platform block the driver's view of the PTI. We'd call it a blind spot.

There are dozens of these all over the Tube, posing a serious safety risk to passengers. Some of the worst locations have been given additional station staff support from the Special Requirements Team so CSAs on the platform can assist drivers. But this isn't a "special" requirement - it's a permanent one!

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Paul Okoro Reinstated!

A sustained union campaign, including a strike ballot amongst Piccadilly Line drivers, has secured the reinstatement of sacked worker Paul Okoro.

Paul was sacked for allegedly answering his phone while in the cab, even though witnesses attest that he handed over control of the train before doing so (for the background to his story, click here).

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Voluntary Severance and its Discontents

Hundreds of station staff have signed up to take voluntary severance (VS).

The VS scheme was one of the means by which LU claimed it was softening the blow of the "Fit for the Future" job cuts, arguing that, while nearly 1,000 jobs would be cut, at least no-one was actually being sacked. While technically true, and while voluntary redundancies are preferable to compulsory ones, many workers, faced with a regrading and displacement process none of us asked for, did feel like they were effectively being forced out of their jobs.

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32, not 36!

RMT has been polling its driver members in a referendum to see if they want union negotiators to discuss the possibility of amending the drivers' framework to facilitate the trial of a four-day, 36-hour week in two depots. The results are due back this week.

The trial would necessitate increasing the maximum time spent on the front of a train (currently 4 hours 15 minutes).

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Speak To Us Together, Or Not At All

London Underground's attempt to undermine collective bargaining, by launching what it laughably calls a "listening exercise", which promotes its latest offer on pay and conditions to staff on an individual basis, rather than through our unions, deserves to be treated with utter contempt.

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DLR Shut Down as Solid Strike Bites Back

Nothing is moving on the DLR this morning as workers hit back against their new employers' clampdown.

Pickets at Beckton and Poplar have kept the strike solid and cranked up the pressure on management to back off from their attacks on the workforce. Since taking over the contract, Keolis Amey Docklands (KAD) has stepped up disciplinary action against staff, casualised working conditions by using agencies, and risked safety by licensing managers to work in the control room.

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Fight for the right to strike!

Tubeworker supporters joined activists from across the labour movement for a day of protest at Parliament, opposing the Tories' Trade Union Bill.

An evening demonstration, organised by the Trade Union Coordinating Group, saw activists demand increased trade union freedoms, and commit to defying the new laws if they are passed. Further action is planned for 10 November, the day of the third reading of the Bill.

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