10 February, we learn, will be the “go live” date for the imposition of LU’s ridiculous red tabards.
If you’ve missed the news about these nonsensical items, see our previous report on the issue. They’re uncomfortable, impractical, and fundamentally a hypocritical and inadequate response to a public backlash against LU’s own decision to cut jobs on stations.
As LU is unilaterally imposing the items and insisting they are compulsory to wear, our unions can’t officially encourage members to refuse to wear them, as this could be seen as openly encouraging unofficial industrial action and land the union in legal hot water.
But, Tubeworker is an independent publication so we can be a little more expansive in what we say. While we don’t reckon it’s wise for individuals to refuse to wear them in ones-and-twos, creating the risk that individuals may be picked off and disciplined, if whole groups of station staff want to collectively refuse to wear them… is management going to discipline everyone? Will they waste their time and yours by sending everyone to LDIs, which have to be done in work time, taking people off the gateline and entirely defeating the alleged “make-staff-more-visible” object of the exercise in the first place?
Two RMT branches have passed motions calling for a ballot for official industrial action-short-of-strikes to refuse to wear the tabards. More may follow. If that ballot is going to stand any chance of impacting the “go live” of the tabards, it needs to be organised quickly.
There’s been some suggestion on the job that it’s not worth kicking off about the tabards as, while they may be an annoyance, they’re hardly the world’s biggest issue, so why not just grit our teeth and wear them? Well, it’s true that, compared to pay, terms and conditions, and jobs, the tabards might not be a first-order issue, but the sheer hypocrisy of LU in making this unnecessary, uncomfortable addition to our uniforms rather than addressing the real cause of lack of “visible” staff - i.e., staff numbers! - is a monumental piss-take and does require a response.
So why not get together with your colleagues in the messroom and see if you can arrive at a consensus to say no thanks to the red tabards in a collective way that won’t put individuals at risk? And if that mood is there, press your union for a ballot to make the action official.