Disputes

Aslef launches ballot

Published on: Tue, 11/02/2020 - 15:23

Aslef has announced a ballot of its members on London Underground, over pay and conditions. The ballot opens on 28 February, and closes on 9 March. Aslef is a minority union across LU as a whole, but a majority amongst drivers. One of its key demands in pay negotiations thus far has been for a driver-specific salary increase, to bring LU drivers’ pay in line with that of mainline train drivers. Along with all other unions organising in LU, Aslef has also demanded a reduction in the working week.

An Aslef statement said that the union could not “accept a sub-standard offer that gives our members no guarantee of a pay rise for the next two years and does nothing to reduce the working week or close the pay gap with other train operating companies.”

TSSA has already accepted LU’s latest offer, for a RPI+0.2% pay increase each year from 2019-2023. RMT and Unite remain in dispute.

Aslef’s ballot asks a pointed question of RMT, which has held back from balloting thus far. Tubeworker believes RMT should have balloted months ago; delaying has only made the challenge of delivering ballot thresholds across a large membership harder. But that challenge must now be met.

RMT will not be able to ballot its entire membership in the short timeframe Aslef has set for its own ballot, but it must launch a ballot as soon as possible.

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Bakerloo drivers: all out!

Published on: Fri, 07/02/2020 - 13:53

RMT has named strikes in the timetable dispute on the Bakerloo Line. Drivers will strike from 11.59 on Friday 21 to 11.59 on Saturday 22, then from 11.59 on Sunday 23 to 11.59 on Monday 24. The intention is for this rolling strike to maximise the impact of the action across four days, while only requiring drivers to lose two days' money.

After returning a thumping ballot result, it appeared, as we'd previously reported, that progress had been made in negotiations. But things have slipped back since, and with no concrete concessions from management, workers have decided it's time for action.

This is a dispute over absolutely elementary issues: the right to decent working conditions. Working Timetable 44 is a mess, which has led to the time between some trips being so short that drivers don't even have time for a toilet break or a drink of water. The situation has had a knock-on effect for station staff, who have to deal with additional congestion on platforms caused by gaps between trains, and of course for passengers.

Tubeworker hopes Aslef members at Queen's Park and Elephant and Castle, the line's two train depots, will respect RMT picket lines.

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Sadiq Khan's election leaflet for commuters

Khan Boasts of Strike Fall

Published on: Thu, 02/01/2020 - 20:35

Sadiq Khan has started the New Year with a leaflet (pictured) asking people to re-elect him because he has kept the cost of commuting down. Fair enough, and here at Tubeworker, we would much rather see Khan reelected than the Tory candidate who plans to nick our Nominee Passes.

But what is that final bullet point? A boast about cutting Tube strike days?! That's not the sort of thing we want to see a Labour Mayor boasting about. Morevoer, the fact is that the fall in strike days is largely a result of the 2016 Trade Union Act (which stopped LUL staff striking over the London Bridge 3 and cleaners striking over working condtiions) - not of anything the Mayor has done.

He's going to have to do better than this to win transport workers' support.

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Bakerloo drivers vote for action

Published on: Tue, 17/12/2019 - 17:48

Bakerloo drivers in RMT have voted by a 95% majority for strikes, and by 98% for action short of a strike, on an 80% turnout.

They’re fighting to win a workable timetable; we reported on the issues in the dispute here.

Following this overwhelming vote for action, let’s hope the bosses see sense. But if not... see you on the picket lines!

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Action ahead on the Central Line?

Published on: Tue, 10/12/2019 - 16:04

It's becoming an all-too familiar pattern on trains. Managers in depots get out of control, presiding over a culture of petty and arbitrary discipline, interpreting procedures and policies punitively and acting like tinpot authoritarians. RMT drivers ballot for industrial action to stop this culture, strikes are declared, negotiations take place at Acas, trains managers promise to wind their necks in, and strikes are suspended.

A few months later... the old problems have returned and we're back to square one.

This appears now to be the case on the Central Line, with drivers arguing that management have reneged on promises made at Acas.

Maybe the only way management will learn to change their ways for good is when they realise our strike ballots aren't just idle threats, but that we actually have the ability to stop the job.

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Staffing reviews delayed... time to step up the fight

Published on: Tue, 10/12/2019 - 15:52

Almost exactly a year ago, station staff on the Bakerloo South group had just voted for industrial action to address issues around uncovered duties and short staffing.

Strikes were called in December and January, and later suspended after LU committed to filling all vacancies; covering all duties; and conducting a staffing review across the group to identify possible needs for additional jobs.

This agreement was later extended to a number of other station groups, including District Centre, where RMT members also balloted for action.

A year on, and the staffing reviews on these areas still have not produced definitive outcomes. There is a suggestion that one or two additional jobs may be created on Bakerloo South, possibly sometime in January, but no concrete timeframe for this, and with the suggestion that increases may be offset by getting rid of a part-time CSS position at Piccadilly Circus. On District Centre, there hasn't been vague indications so much as radio silence.

It's hard not to conclude that management simply haven't taken these processes seriously. The procrastination over these local staffing reviews are part of the reason why Tubeworker believes a network-wide dispute over stations issues, and most centrally issues around short and understaffing, is now necessary, and why we're pleased to see the RMT move in that direction. It appears reviews arising from local disputes will simply be kicked into the long grass, so we need to up the ante.

Let's ballot network-wide in 2020 and fight for increased staffing levels on stations, an end to lone working, and more.

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Bakerloo Line drivers: vote yes for action!

Published on: Tue, 10/12/2019 - 15:45

"Working" Timetable 44 on the Bakerloo Line is simply not working.

The timetable has led to a long list of problems, including turnaround times so tight that drivers often aren't able to take a toilet break between trips. The timetable has also led to big gaps between trains at certain times, leading to overcrowding on platforms.

RMT drivers at Queen's Park and Elephant depots are balloting for strikes to win a workable timetable. The ballot closes on 17 December. Tubeworker encourages all drivers to vote yes/yes for strikes and action short of strikes. Aslef driver are also balloting, creating the potential for a total shutdown of trains on the Bakerloo if management don't agree to withdraw WTT44 and implement a timetable that's workable for drivers and safer for passengers.

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LU pay/conditions and stations fightback: get moving with ballots!

Published on: Sat, 23/11/2019 - 16:31

The longer our unions go without launching ballots over LU pay/conditions, the more momentum we hand to the bosses.

Delaying only benefits the employer. RMT announced an aspiration to have its ballot ready by the end of November; members have a right to expect these aspirations to be followed through.

Negotiations have secured important concessions but it’s workers’ action, our ability to stop the job, that will force real movement from the bosses. The same goes for ongoing issues on stations and revenue over workplace violence and understaffing. There’s a strong mood across the job for a fightback over these issues, and several branches, and the RMT London Transport Regional Council, have now passed policies calling for disputes and ballots.

We need to get moving. Khan faces re-election in May 2020, and if we’re not in a position early in the new year to announce a programme of strikes leading up to that election, we’ll be missing a golden opportunity.

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Cleaners: vote yes for strikes!

Published on: Wed, 23/10/2019 - 12:01

After months of preparation, RMT will ballot ABM cleaners for industrial action. The ballot runs from 28 October to 19 November. Tubeworker encourages all cleaners to vote yes.

Cleaners are fighting for travel passes, company sick pay, and improved holiday/pension entitlements. It is an utter disgrace that cleaners, who are as much part of the permanent, day-to-day LU workforce as station staff or drivers, don't have access to the same facilities that directly-employed staff do. Strong industrial action will put pressure on ABM as the contractor, but also on TfL/LU and the Mayor, who are ultimately responsible for the exploitative conditions in which cleaners work.

As the campaign gear up, we'll be discussing ways in which workers in other grades can support our cleaner colleagues.

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“20 additional colleagues”?

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 16:11

An LU Employee Bulletin announces that, to combat workplace violence and antisocial behaviour on the east end of the District Line, LU will be providing “20 additional colleagues”.

Good news, you might think. An acknowledgement that lone working and understaffing are the fundamental problems. But alas, the reality is not so encouraging.

These “colleagues” aren’t additional LU station staff, but staff drafted in from TfL’s Surface Transport department – workers who deal with taxi enforcement and revenue issues on buses. They are not trained or licensed to work on LU stations. They have no ability to intervene in any safety or security issue that takes place on the station.

LU aren’t even putting a sticking plaster on a gaping wound… they’re rubbing salt in it.

They’re also putting the Surface Transport workers, who are fellow transport workers and trade unionists, in an extremely difficult position by using them in this way. They shouldn’t have to be drafted in to be spare bodies when what’s so clearly needed is additional LU staff.

LU’s woefully inadequate response to issues of antisocial behaviour and workplace violence on District East, at West Ham, and elsewhere, show that the bosses are more committed to their agenda of penny-pinching budgetary savings than to the safety and wellbeing of workers.

It’s time for action. We need strikes to win a safe staffing level.

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