Engineering and fleet

Bring the Jobs Fights Together!

Published on: Fri, 08/02/2019 - 14:40

Many grades in many locations are suffering under the destaffing over recent years, or are facing imminent cuts to jobs.

The unions - primarily RMT - are fighting back on several fronts. RMT has scored some successes, including on Bakerloo South stations groups and the cleaning contractor, ABM.

Now, more stations groups are going into action, and the union is gearing up for battles against a 2009 agreement on trains that restricts depot staffing levels, and threatened cuts to train prep.

Moreover, other issues under dispute - for example, the ludicrous red tabards, or unacceptable rosters or ticketing problems - are rooted in staff shortages.

Our fightback will be stronger if we fight the roots cause rather than just the symptoms. The more we can bring these disparate disputes together, the better.

This might be easier said than done, particularly since the imposition of difficult-to-reach ballot thresholds by the 2016 Trade Union Act, but with the will and the effort, it can be done. And even if we don't feel ready to call everyone out on strike yet, we can synchronise ballots and actions in different areas.

Moreover, the root cause has a root cause too, as under-staffing is the result of under-funding. Tubeworker would like to see our unions campaign more stridently against the government's cut to TfL's funding and TfL's failure to fight that cut.

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Prepare for battle to defeat cuts to train prep

Published on: Mon, 21/01/2019 - 18:57

RMT has declared an official dispute with the company as LU presses ahead with its plans to extend train prep.

Trains currently have basic safety checks performer on a 24-hourly basis by trained fleet workers, ensuring they’re safe to run. LU is now proposing to extend that massively, up to 96 hours on some lines and on others, essentially doing away with many regular checks entirely and introducing a system where trains are only checked every few months.

This is not only a clear attack on fleet workers’ jobs, it’s a glaring attack on safety that will affect drivers, station staff, and of course the travelling public.

Given the severity of this attack, we need to consider an industrial response that builds for action not only amongst fleet workers, but across the job.

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Prepare for action in train prep fight

Published on: Fri, 28/12/2018 - 09:47

RMT has now declared an official dispute with LU over its plans to cut train prep frequency from 24 hours.

The plan, which could see trains run for up to three days without having basic checks performed, threatens staff safety, passenger safety, and jobs, and must be resisted.

If LU doesn’t back down from the planned cut, we must fight back industrially, and across all grades.

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Defend Anthony Codd!

Published on: Fri, 19/10/2018 - 17:01

Track Access Control members of the RMT have successfully balloted to defend Anthony Codd for doing his job during an LDI!
Management have decided his failure to give the highest sanction available and refer the matter to a CDI has called his conduct into question.

Anthony was then stood down and three months later given notice of a CDI followed by an out of the blue home visit from senior management! Anthony was subsequently sacked, with none of his fellow workers being told why!

RMT members in TAC believe that Anthony is being singled out for adhering to health and safety and has opposed unsafe practices
Strikes dates are set to be announced and workers should stand firm against management abuse.

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More Transplant strikes due on 3 August: the story of the fight so far

Published on: Sat, 21/07/2018 - 14:47

Transplant is a department within London Underground, formerly part of TubeLines. Some may know Transplant as the “Ballast Trains”, or maybe the “Engineers Train Unit” (ETU). Due to the nature of work, predominantly carried out under the cover of darkness, some would believe that its just a small setup. The reality is very different. Transplant is a huge scale operation, compromising 270+ vehicles, such as a fleet of battery locomotives; plain line/points and crossing tamping machines; rail cranes; various plant equipment; and a massive fleet of wagons that cater to LUL's engineering requirements.

Transplant workers have been responsible for providing all this equipment across the LUL infrastructure every night to carry out essential maintenance work, and during weekend possessions to support major improvement works across the Tube network. Again, due to the nature of the heavy engineering work and the fact that a lot of the fleet is over 50 years old, the trains themselves require a lot of maintenance. This completed by a small but dedicated team of Train Maintainers whose skills, knowledge, and experience of multiple stocks and lots of different equipment have enabled Transplant to operate for many years.

Workers on Transplant maintenance teams feel they have played, and continue to play, a vital and pivotal role in the success and safe operation of this department and that they should receive recognition for this.

A dispute situation was announced back in 2017 over the issues of pay parity and train preparation payments. RMT began talks with the company before Christmas and felt that good progress had been made and the company had recognised our aspirations of achieving pay parity with the Engineers Train Operators. Because of these assurances the dedicated members of Transplant maintenance felt that this was a reasonable way forward and ensured their support over the Christmas period to the major engineering works. After Christmas a few discussions were held but no agreement reached, action-short-of-strikes was announced and commenced… still no talks. Members of staff felt ignored and like they had been played by management. They had stuck to their side of the bargain: their gesture of goodwill and commitment to support Christmas engineering work based on serious negotiations in the new year.

During the course of this dispute we have found management to actually be some of our best recruiters. Their actions have enraged staff, caused tensions to escalate to boiling point, and have left industrial relations in a state of disrepair.

The new anti-trade union laws passed in 2016 meant we had to re-ballot. A massive majority vote was secured demonstrated a continued determination to fight on. Transplant maintenance workers struck for 24 hours from 12 July. Due to possession works being scaled back, the decision was taken to suspended further strikes planned for 13 and 15 July.

More strikes are now scheduled to take place from 19:00 on Friday 3 August. With planned engineering works slowing from down from September we wonder if management are trying to kick the can down the road. Transplant maintenance workers have been providing an outstanding service, however they having been working at 100% capacity with staff shortages, lack of resources, and lack of investment. The maintenance teams are now required more then ever and with a down turn in engineering work out on the network comes a major up turn in in work for maintenance and workshop staff.

There are recent noticeable changes in the management structure. We hope to resolve this dispute and ensure workplace justice for Transplant maintenance workers for many years to come.

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All out at Ruislip!

Published on: Mon, 02/07/2018 - 13:51

Train maintenance workers at the Ruislip depot will strike over the following times:

07:00 on Thursday 12 July to 07:00 on Friday 13 July
19:00 on Friday 13 July to 07:00 on Saturday 14 July
07:00 on Sunday 15 July to 19:00 on Sunday 15 July

Spreading the strike across several shifts should see maximum impact. This means that the Central Line service could be severely impacted at the same time as the Picc Line drivers’ strike knocks out service on the Picc.

It’s time to give LUL bosses a reminder of who really makes the job run!

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Strikes due at Transplant

Published on: Tue, 26/06/2018 - 10:55

RMT members at the ex-AP JNP Transplant depot have voted for strikes in two separate disputes, over pay parity and train preparation.

Action to level up pay between different grades of workers is vital, and strikes over train prep could be a prelude to combine-wide disputes over the same issue, as LU still plans to cut prep frequency from 24 to 96 hours.

Stay tuned for the announcement of strike days.

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Wot No Payments?

Published on: Fri, 20/04/2018 - 12:41

Overtime payments for some ex-TubeLines workers at Northfields Depot seem to have fallen through the cracks, with workers being told they may now not be paid until next month's payroll.

Tubeworker isn't keen on overtime in principle: we believe everyone should be paid a decent enough basic wage so as to not have to sell more of our labour power to the bosses, and if the boss can't cover the work with existing staff, they should create more jobs and hire more workers, rather than asking existing staff to work longer. But it's also a principle that workers should be paid, and paid on time, for work we've done, whether that's a regular shift or overtime.

Ascribing the problem to admin errors or difficulties created by the reintegration of TubeLines into LU isn't good enough. Our labour creates the product (in our case: Tube journeys for millions of passengers!), the bare minimum we expect is that our employer pays us for it.

Many depots, and stations, rely on overtime and goodwill from workers (staying a bit late here and there) to function. If the employer can't even pay us on time, that goodwill should be withdrawn.

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Mapping Mess

Published on: Thu, 22/02/2018 - 18:16

As “Transformation” continues to rumble into gear, the lack of clarity from management about exactly who will be affected and how is making life difficult for workers.

Some workers are being given contradictory messages by managers, first being told their jobs are safe, then finding out they’re in the frame to be “mapped” into new roles, with only vague guarantees and protections.

In some cases, workers who’ve been recognised by management as filling a particular for years are now being told they may be at risk because the company considers their grade to be something else. Workers working as Stock/Materials Controllers since 2012, who were initially told their position wasn’t in the frame for “Transformation”, have now discovered that the company actually deems them to be a Materials Assistant, and therefore in the scope of “Transformation”.

There are echoes of a similar dynamic on stations, where staff at the north end of the Bakerloo Line, where ticket offices remained opened, have been covering ex-SAMF (ticket seller) jobs, and have now been told that the company intends to cut their pay and demote them when ticket offices close. There are also apparent disparities with the way the mapping is affecting Bombardier staff, some of whom appear to be taking priority for being mapped into LU roles other workers have been covering for years. Unions must resist divisions between directly-employed and outsourced workers and demand in-house jobs for all.

LU wants to use us to cover work when it needs us, but won’t guarantee any protections during restructures. The lesson for unions is clear: we have to confront the entire logic of cuts. Scrap “Transformation” now!

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Ruislip depot dispute: management all at sea

Published on: Sun, 18/02/2018 - 02:00

At Ruislip depot, the train maintenance dispute has got the company well and truly rattled.

On Thursday, management kicked off an offensive against workers taking official (and therefore legally protected) industrial action short of strikes, singling out individuals in a bid to break the action.

They even sent the apprentices back to the training centre, saying that the depot was not a suitable learning environment for them. Here at Tubeworker, we think it sounds like an ideal learning environment - a hands-on, practical study of workers standing up for ourselves and fighting back.

Management appear to be out of their depth, not knowing what to do when faced with solid, concerted action. Perhaps the simplest thing for them to do now is to concede an honourable defeat and pay us properly for the work we do.

After all, their strategy of attempting to demoralise us has backfired, with the industrial action more determined and effective than ever.

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