Disputes

“Go it alone”?

Published on: Thu, 25/07/2019 - 11:16

Tubeworker isn’t linked to any one union on the job, and we argue consistently for unity and common action between all unions on LU.

That aspiration for unity means it’s always disappointing when one union puts out material attacking another in a way that’s divisive or even straightforwardly inaccurate. Robust criticism and debate about strategy and tactics is one thing; misleading workers about another union’s record is quite another.

There’s a new Aslef leaflet doing the rounds on the job that declares its “time to go it alone” on pay and conditions, allegedly because RMT isn’t prepared to fight for drivers! It attacks RMT for raising the demand for the consolidation of the CSA grade, and goes on to claim that RMT “agreed” the introduction of the CSA2 grade.

This is untrue. In fact, the post-Fit for the Future grading system was imposed by the company, despite union opposition. RMT fought against Fit for the Future in its entirety, and while some significant concessions were gained from management, ultimately that battle was lost and the new grades were imposed. It is outrageous for Aslef to claim RMT positively agreed to the creation of the CSA2 grade.

The Aslef leaflet says “we only care about drivers”. What an illuminating insight into the sectional mindset! Not “we only organise drivers”, or “we only represent drivers”, but “we only care about drivers”! In other words, other workers on the railway can get stuffed!

This approach is divisive and only benefits the bosses. We urge rank-and-file Aslef members to challenge their reps over the spreading of these inaccuracies. We’ll be far more powerful if we don’t “go it alone”, but rather fight together to take united action.

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Transformation ballot halted

Published on: Tue, 23/07/2019 - 11:22

RMT’s ballot of workers in engineering, signals, and other departments to fight Transformation job cuts has been halted.

The result was due back on 16 July, but the union pulled the ballot before the announcement. The official reason is that RMT plans to expand the number of workers balloted.

Large ballots are difficult to win, but as the recent example from the fleet dispute against extended train prep shows, it can be done.

The ballot should be resumed as soon as possible.

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Vote for strikes to stop “Transformation” cuts

Published on: Thu, 20/06/2019 - 13:14

As TfL/LU push ahead with cuts planned under its “Transformation” process, RMT is balloting affected members for strikes and other industrial action. Workers affected include all ex-Tube Lines members, Palestra House (LUCC) Service Control, Signals, Skills Development, and Track Access Control.

The “Transformation” scheme, which has already claimed dozens of jobs in admin grades, threatens potentially thousands more. A planned three-day strike by fleet workers recently forced LU to back off from plans to extend train preparation schedules; strikes across affected grades could throw a spanner in the works of “Transformation”.

RMT must also plan to spread the dispute to other grades if initial action by the affected workers doesn’t get results.

The ballot opens on 26 June, and close on 16 July. Resist the cuts: vote yes/yes!

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Waste collection to be outsourced?

Published on: Thu, 20/06/2019 - 13:08

The Labour Party has a national policy commitment to end outsourcing when it goes into government. Great. But we already have a Labour mayor in City Hall. Not only is Sadiq Khan overseeing the continued outsourcing of cleaning, security, and cleaning, under his mayoralty, TfL and LU bosses are looking to outsource and privatise even more workers!

As part of the ongoing “Transformation” process of TfL/LU cuts, bosses plan to outsource waste collection services in outer London, currently done by directly-employed staff, to a private company. Workers’ terms, conditions, and jobs are at risk. (For more, see this RMT report here.)

RMT is now balloting for strikes against “Transformation” cuts. As fleet workers have recently shown, the threat of action can get results.

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Ballot on pay and conditions imminent

Published on: Tue, 18/06/2019 - 11:58

RMT is now preparing to ballot members on LU for industrial action over pay and conditions. With all three other unions having also rejected LU’s latest offer, it’s likely they’ll ballot too.

Restrictive anti-union laws mean we need to get a 50% turnout and at least 40% of all those balloted voting yes to take legal action. So make sure your contact details are up to date with your union so your ballot paper gets sent to the right place.

We need to be prepared to take serious action. A token one-day strike is unlikely to be enough to budge the bosses. Guards on South Western Railway are currently striking for five days to defend their jobs; their resolve should inspire us!

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Why Tube cleaners plan to strike

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2019 - 23:21

Tube cleaners in the RMT are preparing to ballot for strikes. Here, a cleaner tells Tubeworker why.


“Tube cleaners have been campaigning for many years against injustice. We're fighting for dignity, and equal conditions in our workplaces. Currently we have no company sick pay, which means cleaners who get sick are forced to come to work or face financial hardship. And we also have no free travel passes, unlike directly-employed staff working on the railway.

“The biggest demand we are fighting for is direct employment, for cleaning to be brought in house. I don't consider myself an ABM cleaner. I am a TfL cleaner, I am a London Underground cleaner. ABM will probably go in a few years, some other contractor will come along. But we are doing the same work, cleaning London Underground. We should be employed directly.

“There's hasn't been industrial action for several years; union members amongst cleaners have been waiting for this dispute for a long time. People were asking, “when are we going to have a real fight?” Non-members have also been enthused by the announcement that we're planning to ballot. Since the decision was announced, I've personally recruited six people. Cleaners want to join because they see us preparing for a strike.

“We're not planning to strike simply because we're pissed off. Action is an essential organising tool. A union is only as strong as its membership. By taking action, we build the union. We need support and guidance from the rest of RMT. Many cleaners have English as a second language and many not know their legal rights. Some feel scared and isolated. The wider union can provide us with direction and information to help us build the dispute, and support us when we take action. We need to be honest with members about what it will take to win.

“We have been making good links with other unions organising cleaners, such as the IWGB. We have attend picket lines and demonstrations with them, and we've been sharing ideas and tactics at events coordinated by the New Economics Foundation. It's good to meet cleaners from universities and hospitals and discuss what we have in common. We're part of the union movement so should support each other. If they strike, they know RMT members will have their back, and vice versa. Our voice is bigger if we combine, so unions organising outsourced workers to demand direct employment should join together in common campaigns.”

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Victoria Line drivers head for action

Published on: Tue, 28/05/2019 - 17:21

RMT drivers on the Victoria Line look as though they may soon join their Central Line comrades in balloting for industrial action.

The issues are similar, focusing on management throwing their weight around in the depot. RMT has been arranging meetings of the relevant reps, but it’s crucial that these are quickly translated into action.

As the fleet dispute shows, industrial action is often the only language LU understands.

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Central Line fight needs strikes

Published on: Tue, 28/05/2019 - 17:18

Central Line drivers in RMT recently returned a thumping majority for new strikes in a long-running dispute against bullying bosses. Click here for our report from the time.

So far, no action has been called. It's been over a month. Many drivers are starting to ask why. The dispute hasn’t been resolved, and the exceptional turnout and high majority for strikes in the ballot shows there is a mood to fight. So why hasn’t the union named dates?

Strikes need to be named as soon as possible.

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Fleet workers win train prep fight

Published on: Wed, 15/05/2019 - 09:13


You can almost hear the grinding of gritted teeth...


Industrial action by LU Fleet workers, and the threat of a three-day strike from 17-20 May, has forced LU bosses into an embarrassing climb-down over their plans to extend train prep schedules. An Employee Bulletin announced the bosses' defeat on 14 May, with the company saying it had "decided not to change the frequencies" of train checks.

Quite simply, the company has caved in, for the very simple reason that fleet workers would have stopped the job if they hadn't! It's trade unionism in action: workers organising to exercise our democratic right to withdraw our labour to defend our conditions at work.

It's good that RMT has not settled the dispute with the company over this matter, which means we will still be able to strike, or take further action, at two weeks' notice if the company tries to bring the plans back in some other form over the next six months.

Hopefully we can use the momentum from this victory to spur us on in other fights, including the fight against "Transformation" job cuts and over LU pay/conditions.

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Massive Vote to Stop Train Prep Cuts

Published on: Mon, 08/04/2019 - 09:43

Fleet maintainers have voted overwhelming for industrial action against LUL management's plan to cut the frequency of train preparation. A combination of strength of feeling about the issue and a solid organising effort by RMT activists saw nearly two-thirds of ballot papers returned, nearly ninety per cent of them voting Yes to strikes and even more than that for action short.

The union is now deliberating on what action to call. It is important to call action quickly, to reflect the urgency and importance of this issue. Serious rather than token action will put pressure on management, with a programme of strikes and other actions that shows the company that it can not just ride out one walkout and expect the issue to go away.

Moreover, this is an issue that effects all of us. Reduced train prep frequency will result in more breakdowns, causing grief for engineers, drivers, station staff and service control. If the company does not back down in the face of action from fleet staff, then all-grades industrial action is our next step.

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