Tubeworker's blog

Update Please

Tube workers gradually found out via rumour and the BBC that RMT will not, after all, strike on 8 and 10 September. The usual text and email notifications were not sent out. This is presumably because the union never actually officially put the strikes on - instead, it declared its intention to call them - so it hasn't, technically, called them off.

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We have been receiving messages from our respective unions telling us that this week's strikes are off, with an explanation that talks are making "progress". Perhaps we are supposed to just accept this without wanting to know more, but rank-and-file Tube workers do want to know more, and local reps are being pressed for answers that they do not have.

It is good to know that progress is being made, but surely this has happened because we had industrial action on, logically suggesting that keeping it on would lead to more progress.

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How To Keep The Pressure On

As the media carries sensationalised reports of talks between LU and the unions going down to the wire, there's been a lot talk around the job about whether next week's strikes will go ahead.

That intense negotiations between unions and an employer will continue for as long as possible is hardly "news". As of now, the strikes are on: we should be preparing for them and building picket lines.

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LU Still Pushing for 12th September Night Tube Launch

In an update from Employee Communications on Friday 21st August, Steve Griffiths is quoted: "We hope that we will still be able to come to an agreement with your trade unions to ensure a successful start to Night Tube on 12th September".

A 12th September start date does not even allow 28 days' notice of duties. LU still doesn't get it! It talks about reaching 'agreement' over the start of Night Tube but contradicts itself by declaring it is willing to break this basic clause in our terms and conditions.

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Four-Day Week?

A 35-hour, four-day week for drivers is nearly an industry standard, agreed by most Train Operating Companies in London, including Southern, South West Trains, Southeastern and TfL-controlled London Overground.

LU has tried to pretend that our demand for a 32 hour, four-day week is ridiculous, but it's LU, not our demands, that are out of step.

Workers in our industry are all striving for the same - and many TOCs are taking steps in the right direction. We should be part of the fight to reduce hours, working days and fatigue across our industry.

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The Managers Of The Future?

New “Area Managers” on stations have been throwing their weight around across the combine, with overbearing micro-management of performance; authoritarian approaches to attendance and discipline; termination of probationers, and more.

Undoubtedly this is the future face of LU management style. Or is it just the AMs trying to justify their enormous salaries?

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In At The Deep End?

LU is forcing current SAMFs and SCRAs through supervisor training.

But many say the training is too short to prepare them for the unwanted hike in responsibility. LU has even been throwing newly-qualified supervisors in at the deep end by using them to cover for staff shortage on their existing groups.

Bad enough to have the new job thrust upon them from next year, but even worse to use them to paper over cracks in coverage caused by unfilled vacancies and Fit for the Future training.

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Career Development

LU is tempting Supervisors with secondments that will provide cover for SS1s during "Fit for the Future" training. LU tells us this will help our "career development".

What a joke! Once "Fit for the Future" comes in, supervisors will be "promoted" to do SS1 work anyway - but with no pay rise. Those on secondments will keep doing SS1 work, but see their pay cut as soon as the secondment ends.

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Delays pile on pressure

Our action short of strike in the depots as part of the Night Tube/pay dispute has led to cancelled trains on the District, Circle, Hammersmith and City, and Central Lines, causing delays every day for weeks.

On Wednesday 12 August, LU only ran 70% of its scheduled trains through the morning peak. Last week, the entire Wimbledon branch of the District Line was knocked out throughout the peak due to lack of available trains.

Workers in some locations have stuck by the action short of strike despite being sent home from work without pay for upholding it.

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"Crime" down but assaults are up

LU's employee communications have implied we should feel grateful that it is bothering to get extra police for Night Tube at a time when "crime on LU is at an all-time low".

LU is on another planet! "Low crime" is no comfort when assaults on Tube staff have increased by 44% and sexual assaults on passengers have risen by over 30% in the last year.

LU cannot continue to dismiss our concerns for personal and passenger safety surrounding Night Tube.

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An appeal to Aslef drivers: don't cross the picket lines!

Here at Tubeworker, we've shared the widespread feeling of galvanisation and collective strength that's been prevalent since the start of the Night Tube dispute. With all four unions striking together, we've asserted ourselves as a workforce in a way we haven't for decades.

That's why it's especially disappointing that Aslef has broken that unity, begun separate talks with management, and won't, as of now, be joining the 25-26 and 27-28 August strikes.

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"Operationally ready"?

Steve Griffiths published yesterday in a bulletin to staff: "you may have seen media reports suggesting that we have deferred Night Tube. I can confirm that we are operationally ready for 12 September, but not at any cost".

It reads as though Steve is desperately trying to say, "I've done my job, Boris Johnson! Night Tube would definitely have been on time if it was up to me. If it's late, don't blame me, blame the unions".

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Night Tube delayed: step up, don't let up!

For months, LU has insisted that Night Tube would go ahead on time and on its terms. It has treated our health and work/life balance concerns with contempt. It might as well have published Night Tube rosters and timetables in recent weeks with the accompanying message: "We are the bosses, we are in charge; a workplace is not a democracy, we don't care what you think". We shut down London twice and still LU didn't listen.

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Ready, Set, Strike!

RMT, TSSA, and Unite have named more strikes, on 25-26 and 27-28 August.

Naming more strikes hot on the heels of our last one maintains momentum, and with the OT ban still biting, the pressure on management is mounting. It's excellent that we're escalating to 48 hours, and spreading the strikes across two 24 periods ensures a week's worth of impact.

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#TubeStrike: We Will Fight Until We Win!

Once again, we've demonstrated the integral role our labour plays in the day-to-day functioning of London by shutting down the Tube completely. Our strike is rock solid.

There are lively, well-supported picket lines still ongoing outside depots and stations across London, bringing together members of all four unions involved in the dispute.

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Thanks, But No Thanks

So, another week of ACAS talks has concluded, and LU has put down another "final" offer.

Needle-in-haystack hunters could point to the offer of a £200-per-night-shift payment for T/Ops, or the promise of 28 days' notice of rest days in proposed "cover weeks" for station staff, as evidence of "improvement"... but that would really be stretching the definition of "improvement". Overall, Tubeworker reckons this offer is, if anything, worse.

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Night Of The Living NIRMs

All sorts of troubling reports are reaching Tubeworker HQ about the depths to which the company is sinking to keep things afloat as our industrial action continues and our overtime ban bites.

One correspondent writes: "During the 8-9 July strike, it's rumoured that one of the 'all singing, all dancing' NIRMs (Network Incident Response Managers) covered a shunter's role despite having no line or geographical knowledge of the location, no technical training, and being an ex-DSM as opposed to ex-DMT or DRM."

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Movement on Fleet and M Door issues, plus a new dispute on the Piccadilly Line

The dispute over the use of agency labour on LU Fleet has been resolved, with the company agreeing to take on the agency trainers on standard LU contracts, for periods of at least one year.

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Just In Time!

Word reaches Tubeworker HQ that some staff who ordered thermal underwear during the winter have finally been sent them... in late July.

It's thoughtful of the company to do this, as August is traditionally one of the coldest months of the year. CSAs doing SATS on Central Line platforms, notoriously chilly and referred to by many staff as "the freezer", will undoubtedly be particularly glad of the extra layers.

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Tracks Are For Trains, Not Storerooms

Union reps have been pushing for the cleaners' storeroom at Hendon Central to be moved from its current location, which beyond the safety barrier. Cleaners don't quite have to walk onto the track to access it, but it's not far off.

ISS and LU say that, because cleaners' "Sentinel Cards" require them to be PTS accredited, they are licensed to go on or near the track to access their storeroom.

At best this is an inconvenient location for a storeroom, that cleaners need to access regularly. At worst it's downright dangerous.

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