Tubeworker's blog

100 years since the Russian Revolution: what happened, and why it matters Tubeworker Mon, 10/23/2017 - 13:15

In October 1917 the working class took power in Russia. Although this is often described as an undemocratic coup, Tubeworker believes that democracy was at the heart of the events that brought the working class to power in 1917. How did they do it?

In 1917 Russia was still an autocracy ruled over by a monarch, the Tsar. In contrast, the capitalist class and the ruling regime were weak. The Tsar was unpopular. The peasants wanted land. The people were war-weary. Russia’s participation in World War One had cost around 3.6 million soldiers’ lives by late 1916.

Life under ABM Tubeworker Mon, 10/23/2017 - 13:11

As we all know, ABM has taken over cleaning contracts on London Underground from September, and is continuing to transfer staff through TUPE regulations. Interserve staff have already transferred, with Vinci staff due to go over in early December, followed by ISS staff in February.

Stay Another Day?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 10/19/2017 - 09:33

What is it with management, thinking we can just add hours of (unpaid) travelling time to our working week just to suit their latest reshuffle?

They want to move some engineering staff from Cody Road (in E16) to Lillie Bridge, over in West Kensington. That's 50 minutes travelling time away.

While management hide in their bunkers pushing us around like plastic figures on a wartime map, we confidently expect our union reps to insist that this ridiculous move is stopped.

4-day week? Only for full-timers. Tubeworker Thu, 10/19/2017 - 09:14

Night Tube drivers are disappointed to see that the opportunity to work a four-day week is only available to drivers who currently work five days. Why not to Night Tubers too?

The issue that prompted the four-day week trial is that some full-time drivers struggle with the demands of a five-day week. But there are Night Tubers who struggle with a five-day week to the extent that they can't even consider doing it.

Seeing red (tabards)! Tubeworker Tue, 10/17/2017 - 00:00

Surveys by the independent transport watchdog London TravelWatch have consistently revealed that, despite LU's spin that closing ticket offices would make staff "more visible", passengers consistently have difficulty finding members of staff to assist them on stations.

Here at Tubeworker, we think the problem is clear: there aren't enough staff. The solution is to reverse job cuts.

LU has other ideas. It insists the problem is one of "visibility", and to ameliorate this it is trialling the use of red tabards (emblazoned with "here to help") at certain locations.

ABM: More of the same Tubeworker Mon, 10/16/2017 - 23:56

We're a month into the new "super-contract" for cleaning, with American firm having taken over from Interserve (the transfer of ISS staff to ABM is due to take place in February), and it very much seems to be a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Cleaners report that the scandal of short payment is continuing, with workers finding their pay packets considerably lighter than they should be.

This is theft: there is no excuse for any employer to pay their workers less than they are owed.

Pain in the art? Tubeworker Mon, 10/16/2017 - 23:43

Here at Tubeworker, we're big advocates of public art and the liberating potential of artistic expression. But art installations in our workplaces need to take the safety and welfare of staff into account.

This consideration went missing with a recent "Art on the Underground" installation at King's Cross, by the Met/H&C gateline, which featured a looped 12-minute film, with a soundtrack featuring high-pitched singing throughout. A site space allocation was sent to safety reps, but no risk assessment was carried out.

Solidarity with the Picturehouse cinema workers' strikes! Tubeworker Fri, 10/06/2017 - 20:14

Workers at the Picturehouse cinema chain, owned by corporate giant Cineworld, have been in dispute for over a year to win living wages, union recognition, and other workplace rights. They're in the Bectu union, now a section of Prospect. Four of their reps at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton have been sacked for their role in organising the strikes, and Picturehouse has threatened any worker who continues to participate in industrial action with dismissal.

Aslef strike off Tubeworker Fri, 10/06/2017 - 19:28

What’s in the settlement Aslef called off Thursday’s strike for? Well, it’s not entirely clear.

Union reports to members say the four-day-week trial on the Jubilee Line will be "analysed", and if seen as unsuccessful, a "nine-day-fortnight" may be looked at instead. LU have also said that the current steps to reduce weekend working will continue after the 2015-2019 pay deal expires. Additionally, the company has reportedly agreed to allow three drivers per depot to move to "pro-rata four-day working", on top of existing agreements.

Us and them? Tubeworker Mon, 09/25/2017 - 13:25

The restructuring of station grades as part of "Fit for the Future" was always intended to divide the workforce. We're seeing the fruits of that division on many stations now, as some CSMs and CSSs increasingly see their role as policing and disciplining CSAs.

The age of ABM Tubeworker Mon, 09/25/2017 - 13:20

LU's "super contract" for outsourced cleaning work is finally here, and American firm ABM has taken over contracts previously run by Interserve, ISS, and Vinci.

Aslef calls strike for 5 October Tubeworker Mon, 09/25/2017 - 13:12

Aslef has called a strike for Thursday 5 October, in its dispute with LU over work/life balance issues for drivers. RMT is in dispute over the same issues, but is yet to ballot its driver members.

The dispute is a hangover from the 2015 pay settlement, which committed the company to explore ways of improving drivers' work/life balance. The company has dragged its feet since, and the only concrete development has been the "four day week" trial on the Jubilee Line. Aslef wants that model rolled out of the rest of the combine.

Central Line drivers deliver huge majority for strikes: stand firm to get Danny back on the front! Tubeworker Mon, 09/25/2017 - 13:04

RMT's Central Line drivers' ballot, which saw drivers at all depots at both ends of the line balloted for industrial action to win the reinstatement of sacked colleague Danny Davis, returned an absolutely thumping majority.

Easily beating the Tories' "double threshold" (a minimum 50% turnout, and a minimum 40% of all those balloted voting yes to action), the final score was 99% in favour of action on a 77% turnout.

Help Me If You Can Tubeworker Thu, 08/31/2017 - 16:01

Management have a cunning plan to help them avoid the consequences of de-staffing stations: linking help points to other stations so it seemingly doesn't matter if there is no-one on a station to help.

They decided that they would trial this at a few stations, but unfortunately 'forgot' to consult with our unions before sending out an email to staff telling them the trial was about to start. Rumbled by eagle-eyed union activists, management have had to insert their tail between their legs and put the trial on hold indefinitely. Guilty as charged.

No Witness Available? Tubeworker Fri, 08/25/2017 - 15:40

A member of station staff has been given a suspended dismissal by LU - a "gross misconduct" charge, the highest disciplinary sanction short of actually being sacked - for conducting cash-handling work without getting a witness... because they were lone working, and there was no witness available.

Wot No Risk Assessment? Tubeworker Thu, 08/24/2017 - 16:53

LUL is making pregnant women wait for workplace risk assessments because it doesn't have enough managers to carry them out.

LUL gave voluntary severance to a lot of the old station managers (DSMs) during its Fit for the Future reorganisation but has not trained its new managers, CSMs, to take over a lot of the work they used to do - including pregnancy risk assessments, even tho these are a requirement by law.

Don't help LU paper over cracks Tubeworker Thu, 08/24/2017 - 12:16

In a last minute hurry to get enough staff to assist with Notting Hill Carnival, LUL sent some SRT staff to Notting Hill Gate station to be familiarised. The station had no supervisor available to walk them round the station so the SRT staff were told to come back another time.

Good! CSAs familiarising their colleagues has become a common short cut, but that's not how it should be done. Why should we take short cuts and bend the rules to help disguise how short staffed LUL is?

We need to highlight short staffing at every opportunity.

The key to better work/life balance is a shorter working week

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 08/24/2017 - 12:15

Both RMT and Alsef are in dispute with Tube bosses over train drivers' poor work life balance. In 2015, the London Underground pay deal contained commitments from management, notably over pro rota working (an option to do less hours for less pay), a reduction in weekend working, and a trial of a "compacted" four day, 36-hour week. However, these commitments have not been met and a dispute has begun.

On all these issues but one, both train drivers' unions are in agreement.

Night Tube Nightmare

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 08/24/2017 - 10:09

Welcome though it is that Night Tube drivers have been able to move into full-time roles, it was somewhat remiss of LUL management to not arrange for their Night Tube posts to be filled - especially as there are plenty of Night Tube station staff who would willingly fill those posts.

Result: a massive shortfall in Night Tube driver numbers on the Piccadilly line, a ridiculously low level of train service, headways to make your eyes bulge, and grief for passengers, drivers and station staff.

Interserve must reinstate Kostatin!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 08/22/2017 - 23:47

Interserve have sacked Upminster cleaner Kostanin for missing a return-to-work meeting scheduled during his annual leave.

As RMT explains, "Kostatin had two weeks leave booked, during which he travelled abroad to visit family. Unfortunately he was ill the week before his holiday and provided the employer with a note from his GP.

Fight the fascists!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 08/22/2017 - 23:43

Recent scenes from America, where Heather Heyer, an anti-fascist activist, was murdered by a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, have reminded us, again, that violent far-right organisation is not a thing of the past.

The resurgent white supremacist movement in the USA is emboldened by a president who is clearly in sympathy with some of its ideas, and who openly equivocates between Nazis and those mobilising to resist them.

Danny Davis sacking: a miscarriage of justice

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 08/18/2017 - 11:48

It has emerged that management used footage from only two of Ruislip Gardens' 17 CCTV cameras in the evidence bundle for the disciplinary panel that sacked Danny Davis.

Footage from cameras showing P-Way at the front of Danny’s train at the time of the incident was withheld.

This represents an outrageous miscarriage of justice that confirms that Danny's sacking was grossly unfair.

Testing the Water

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 08/10/2017 - 17:33

Our employer has to test our drinking water and certify it safe at regular intervals. This is one of those tasks that rather than do it itself, LUL prefers to pass the buck, whoops we mean contract out, the task to another firm.

Said firm has been caught with its metaphorical trousers down, having forged the water safety certificates. Yes, you read that right. Your drinking water may be "certified" safe by a forgery.

Pay Reinstated

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 08/10/2017 - 14:51

Drivers all over the network, in both RMT and Aslef, refused to cross RMT station staff picket lines at depots located at stations during the 8-9 January strike.

Others refused to drive on the grounds of safety, arguing that it was unsafe for LU to run trains through unstaffed stations. One such RMT driver on the Bakerloo Line had his pay docked for doing so, but after pursuing a grievance against management, has had it reinstated.

The lesson? Stand your ground!

Reinstate Danny Davis!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 08/04/2017 - 20:50

Central Line driver Danny Davis, a colleague with 20 years' service and an unblemished record, has been summarily dismissed following a PTI incident.

It was the type of mistake any driver could make, and for which other drivers have received coaching and support, not the sack.

Danny's union branch, RMT Central Line East, is preparing a ballot for industrial action, which will hopefully involve drivers at both ends of the line.

If justice isn't done, the dispute will need to escalate.

Interserve bosses plan to appoint reps

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 08/04/2017 - 20:40

As the transfer of LU stations cleaning contracts draws nearer, Interserve bosses have come up with a novel way of communicating with staff.

A letter sent to all employees says the company will speak to "appointed employee representatives", "gathered" from a pool of volunteers, and invites anyone interested to come forward.

Picc Of The Bunch!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 07/27/2017 - 20:20

Fleet maintenance workers on the Piccadilly Line have won an excellent victory in their fight for permanent jobs.

35 workers, employed on two-year, fixed-term contracts, will now be guaranteed permanent jobs.

It was achieved solely by the resolute direct action taken by workers, who stuck to a solid work-to-rule. The impact on the service was massive, with trains being unable to run, causing severe delays. They began their action on 25 July: it took less than 48 hours for management to cave completely.

Improvement Notice

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 07/25/2017 - 00:06

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the independent transport regulatory body, has issued an official "improvement notice" to LU regarding safety on stations.

The admonishment comes off the back of the tragic incident at Canning Town, where a passenger died after falling down stairs in a non-public area of the station. An investigation clearly showed that job cuts, which led to lone working and the control room being de-staffed, had played a key role.

Gender-Neutral Announcements part 2

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 07/20/2017 - 22:43

We are all used to receiving the memo with management's latest wheeze, giving us some new terminology or buzzword to use. It is usually annoying, ridiculous or both. But just occasionally, a change comes that, once you look at the issues, is fair enough - even welcome and progressive. One of these is the scrapping of the term 'Ladies and gentlemen' in announcements. Why is this a good move?

LU Attacks Our Reps

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 07/20/2017 - 18:23

Although we live in a (relatively) democratic society, that democracy ends almost entirely at the workplace. We are told what to do by managers no-one elected, paid vastly inflated salaries they decided amongst themselves. The only means by which workers (the people who really make society run) have ever been able to impose even minimal levels of democratic functioning into the workplace has been via our unions, which we have forced management to recognise, giving us structures through which to elect workplace representatives.