LU has revealed its devastating plans for stations admin. It is gutting the grade: cutting positions from 77 to 53. It plans to split the role into 'coverage' and 'core'. Coverage staff will be centralised at Palestra at Southwark. 'Core' jobs will be based at seven 'hubs', which will all be in central locations, such as Kings Cross and Baker Street. There won't be a hub east of Stratford or west of Hammersmith.
As admin staff we are devastated. LU has asked us for our cooperation and support during this process. How can LU expect our support when we don't even know if we will have a job at the end of this? We will have to go through a selection process but we haven't yet been told what this will involve. If we do secure a job, it will probably be far from where we work now. Many of us do our jobs because we have caring responsibilities or health issues, so the impact of extra travelling time could be immense. We have asked LU to minimise travelling time to our new jobs, which unions eventually forced for station staff under Fit for the Future. But LU has responded with contempt. We're not operational and we don't do shift work, so LU has refused to make any provision for us.
We have been told to submit 'preference' forms in the coming weeks. We find ourselves trying to predict whether preferencing 'coverage' or 'core' is more likely to result in a job. If we are not successful, we must remember it is not our fault for making the wrong 'choice'. It is LU's fault for forcing us to choose between two bad options.
LU is forcing us to compete against our colleagues for one of the new positions when we really need to unite against LU to defeat these plans. The mood amongst admin staff is angry but it is hard for us to see a way forward to defeat the plans. It is frustrating that admin staff have traditionally been labelled 'difficult to organise' with 'no industrial power'. In fact, LU would not cope if we took industrial action. Our work is extremely important for making sure stations are supplied with staff, uniform and equipment. But we have some catching up to do if we are to get organised enough to take action in time to defeat these plans. Our unions need to start an urgent organising drive to this end.
Station staff will be affected badly. Imagine having no relationship with the person who is sorting out coverage, one of the most important things in the life of station staff. No chance of getting a weekend off that you need, or sorting a uniform request in an emergency. It will be an impersonal service, more like phoning a call centre. Station staff need to organise against these plans too. Tubeworker would like to see more communication from our unions directed at station staff, telling us how we will be affected if the plans go ahead and what we can do to stop them.
The overarching problem is political. None of these changes would be on the cards if the government had not cut its funding to TfL from this year. That's right, TfL is not getting any money from the government anymore. It is a shocking, unprecedented move, but the Tories seem to have snuck it under the radar and have hardly attracted any bad publicity for it. The Labour Mayor, the Labour Party, Londoners and our unions need to mount a high profile campaign to restore government funding to TfL. Cuts to admin and all other TfL services can be stopped.