Tubeworker's blog

"This Simply Isn't True": A Reply to Brian Woodhead

Senior LU boss Brian Woodhead sent out an Employee Bulletin on Friday afternoon, which, despite its pathetic nod in the direction of appearing evenhanded (he "respects our choice" to vote for strike action, apparently!), was little more than a scurrilous piece of propaganda designed to peddle the management line in the London Bridge 3 case.

Let's break Brian's email down bit by bit...

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London Bridge: Prepare to Strike! Rest of Network: Prepare to Vote Yes!

As station staff at London Bridge prepare to strike on 7-8 May to demand reinstatement for Lee Cornell and justice for Dave Sharp and Saeed Sioussi, RMT has announced it will ballot all stations and revenue grade members from 10 May for strikes in the same dispute.

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Bought And Sold

ISS cleaners on the JNP contract have received letters from the company informing them that ISS will not be retaining its contract beyond 2017. The letters explain the "Transfer Undertakings (Protection of Employment" (TUPE) regulations under which ISS cleaners will be transferred over to a new employer. Who that new employer will be, however, ISS either doesn't know, or isn't telling.

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London Bridge: Strike For Justice! Reinstate Lee Cornell!

RMT has called a strike of station staff at London Bridge on 7-8 May, as part of the ongoing campaign to win reinstatement for Lee Cornell and justice for Dave Sharp and Saeed Sioussi, the "London Bridge 3".

Do not book on for any shifts between 22:00 on Sunday 7 May and 21:59 on Monday 8 May.

Action short of strikes has also been called: Do not service any POMs, or challenge customers without valid tickets or Oysters, until further notice.

This dispute should escalate to a combine wide ballot as soon as possible if management don't see sense.

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Goldfish Bowl Woes

The “Goldfish Bowl” facility used by drivers at Elephant and Castle is increasingly unfit for use.

There are vermin traps in every corner, dirt and mould up the walls, and a disgusting smell that seems to have seeped into the tiles.

Does LU think so little of workers’ dignity that it wants us to take our breaks in conditions like this?

Union reps are pushing for a full refurb. Basic dignity at work is non-negotiable.

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Tube workers: vote Labour!

Tory Prime Minister Theresa May has called a general election for 8 June, u-turning from her previous position that none should be held until 2020.

She has called the election for her own reasons: she senses Labour is weak, and wants to secure her and her party’s position in advance of any potential backlash against the economic downturn that will almost certainly result from her planned “hard Brexit”.

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Beat the New Anti-Union Law!

RMT's ballot in defence of the London Bridge 3 is our first taste of organising industrial action since the Tories' new anti-union law - the Trade Union Act - came into effect in March. The law means voter turnout must be over 50%. In 'important public services', such as the Tube, there is an additional requirement that over 40% of the people balloted must have voted 'yes' in order for our ballot result to be 'legal'. So we need a 'yes' vote that is strong enough to meet - and beat - these new thresholds. Vote yes!

Trade Unions: 

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In the Sexism Club?

LUL managers appear to think they are in the TV series 'Life on Mars' as they have woken up in the 1970s (or even earlier) and banned pregnant women from driving trains. They have thrown a particular woman - Kyria Pohl - off her Train Operator training course, and stated that yes, this is because they will no longer allow pregnant women to be in training or to drive a train.

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Night Tube Drivers Win

Night Tube drivers have won their fight with management for a fair chance at moving into full-time jobs.

They had previously been locked in by a ridiculous rule that they had to stay put for 18 months, fifty per cent longer than the standard one year waiting time to move. As usual, management remained intransigent until strike action loomed, with NT drivers delivering a whopping vote in the ballot - at which point management suddenly saw the injustice in the 18-month bar and agreed to relax it.

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(Un)happy birthday, Fit for the Future!

Fit for the Future, which "celebrated" its first birthday last week, changed normal working life for every member of station staff.

Before FftF, we'd gotten used to the distinction between "rostered" and "reserve" staff (not including SRT). Now, we are all reserves, with many weeks on our roster down as "Cover Weeks" where we can be sent anywhere on our Cover Group at very short notice.

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Flash and Dash? No Thanks!

There is a very good reason that we check in person that trains are empty before taking them into sidings or depots. It is only through staff physically checking that the train is empty that we can guarantee that it is, and thus prevent overcarries and the accidents and assaults that go with them.

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Farewell, Steve

LU Managing Director Mark Wild informed staff in an Employee Bulletin this morning that Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths would be stepping down.

Tubeworker is pleased to publish this poem we've been sent, written to mark the occasion by E. J. Thribb, an Operational Apprentice aged 17½.

So. Farewell then,
Steve Griffiths
Whose departure as LU Chief Operating Officer was announced today.

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Transfer Talk

Over 1,500 workers face being shuffled around like pieces on a chessboard from 30 April, as LU proposes to transfer the employment of all workers involved in engineering, major projects, change delivery and PMO activity to Transport for London.

The relationship between TfL and its subsidiary companies is something of a movable feast, with the level of integration seeming to magically increase or decrease depending on what happens to suit the bosses at a given moment.

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Admin Up In Arms

Stations, revenue, and SRT administrators have been presented with an "operational administration customer service charter", setting out what our "customers" - that is, station staff and managers - can expect from their admin teams.

Many admin feel this is deeply insulting and seems like telling us we aren't doing our jobs properly. To add insult to injury, this charter was sent to administrators only the day before the admin forum where it was presented as a done deal, with no opportunity for admin staff to have any say in the process.

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Wot No Posters?

It appears LU is in the process of recalling the posters normally displayed at stations informing the public that the company will support its employees against passenger assaults, taking legal action if necessary.

Tubeworker HQ understands that the official company line on this is that they don't want to "give the impression that the Tube is a dangerous place". It seems to us that a good way to ensure the Tube becomes more dangerous is to send the message that the company won't take action on staff assaults, implying that it's open season for attacks on staff.

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Wot No Minimum Numbers?

Last month, King's Cross station stayed open with just one CSS and two CSAs on the station - not just below but way below minimum numbers - but management have decided that it was not that much of a problem.

When the last H&C trains were running late on 22 February, dead-late staff booked off and the station fell below the minimum numbers of 1 CSM + 10 others, it should have closed. Instead, King's Cross stayed open with just one CSM, one CSS and two CSAs - and then the CSM left the station to get rid of an intoxicated passenger who had abused a member of staff.

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Why Tube workers support the anti-DOO strikes

Many of us on London Underground have been inspired by the ongoing strikes on Southern, which have now spread to Northern and MerseyRail.

Workers at those companies are striking against their bosses' attempts to impose "Driver Only Operation", downgrading the safety-critical role of the guard, allowing trains to run with only one safety-trained member of staff on board.

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Organise to beat the anti-union laws

The latest anti-union laws mean that Tube strikes will need, proportionally, a bigger vote than is necessary to form a government in a general election.

These new anti-worker laws require that: “All ballots for industrial action must have a turnout of at least 50% of members ... A simple majority must be in support of industrial action before it can go ahead. In addition, ballots for industrial action where the members work in providing important public services must also have the support of at least 40% of those members.”

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The capitalist paper with the public service monopoly

For a capitalist paper which believes in the power of the free market, the Evening Standard seems to do very well without competition on the public railway.

The paper routinely attacks workers and attempts to push an anti-union agenda; sometimes with several articles calling for Tube strikes to be banned in a single issue. And for the millions of daily commuters there is no alternative voice on the Tube, other than this anti-worker Tory propaganda piece.

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All grades must prepare to defend London Bridge 3

Any of us could be assaulted whilst carrying out our duties or whilst travelling to or from our workplace. London Underground has shown that if we defend ourselves they will sack us.

That is what happened to a worker on London Bridge station. An appeal has just upheld that outrageous sacking. A couple of other workers have been given warnings by tube bosses too for the incident which saw a pregnant tube worker punched in the stomach and other workers punched and head butted by a passenger.

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Solidarity against terror and racism

Tubeworker sends its sympathies and condolences to the families of those killed and injured in today's attack at Westminster.

As we write, the identity of the attacker is not public, nor their political affiliations. The police are treating the incident as a terrorist attack. Whatever they are, there is no justification for the kind of wanton, brutal attack they carried out.

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Out All Night!

Night Tube drivers in both RMT and Aslef will strike on 8-9 and 29-30 April.

RMT members voted by a whopping 96% majority for the strikes.

The drivers are fighting for a fair system of transfer and progression from part-time roles into full-time ones, and a fair system of overtime payments.

Brakes Not Working? We're Not Driving

Action today by Piccadilly line drivers has forced management to ensure the safety of the fleet.

Drivers have been telling the line's management for ages that there is a problem with the brakes. But while LUL was denying it - preferring instead to blame 'driver incompetence' - Tube Lines decided that a mechanical change was needed (implying that there had been a fault after all). Unfortunately, the technical fix made matters worse not better, as the new microswitches did not work properly and interfered with the downloads!

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Yesterday morning saw the Central line service up the wall after an engineering train derailed as it crossed the points on the way into a siding at White City around the time of start of traffic.

Over-stretched and short-handed station staff - still not feeling the full benefit of their recent victory over staff cuts - had to deal with grumpy passengers for most of the day, while drivers had to deal with late running and changes to schedules.

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Deal With It?

Word reaches Tubeworker HQ of an incident at Snaresbrook recently.

A driver pulling in on the eastbound noticed a gentleman on a walking stick fall over. With no station staff available to assist, the driver was told by the controller that the affected individual would have to deal with things on his own!

This is the same station where a stabbing occurred recently, and it was during the evening peak. Maybe if someone has a heart attack, LU bosses will say they should deal with it on their own too.

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Fleet workers vote for strikes

Back in January, we reported on an imminent ballot on Fleet, in a dispute over a range of issues, including job cuts.

The ballot has now concluded, returning a 68% majority for strikes and an 89% majority for action-short-of-strikes.

Hopefully RMT will crack on and get strike dates named, ideally coordinating them with other ongoing disputes across the job, including the Central Line drivers' fight against forced displacements.

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More Trouble at Victoria's New Entrance

Another tragedy occurred outside the new Cardinal Place entrance to Victoria Underground Station at around 15:00 yesterday (23 February) as a man sustained life-changing injuries as part of the entrance signage came free and hit him in the head during high winds and very close in proximity to the very spot where a man suffered a fatal heart attack at the same entrance recently.

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Wot No Control Staff

A new manager comes in, wants to make a name for himself, clamps down on overtime, interferes with established ways of ensuring coverage, and guess what happens?

Yup. Not enough control staff to run the subsurface and Piccadilly lines last night. No problems for our intrepid new guvnor: the control room equipment can run itself! No, it can't. Still no problem: the staff can work through their meal reliefs. Er, no they can't.

Result: job up wall.

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