Disputes

Massive Vote to Stop Train Prep Cuts

Submitted by Tubeworker 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.

LU's pay offer is a joke: stand firm for our demands!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 05/04/2019 - 20:07

London Underground has offered our unions a one-year, 2.5% pay increase... as long as our unions agree to drop the entirety of our demands.

What is there to say about this offer other than... well, to avoid using inappropriate language, let's just say, "no thanks".

The unions' pay claims included varied demands, but all have demanded a 32-hour, four-day week. LU has simply ignored this, and many other demands around work/life balance and working conditions.

We all know that we'll only shift LU into making real concessions by taking industrial action. Our unions need to begin preparations for that now. Tubeworker was calling nearly a year ago for our unions to launch the pay fight well in advance, so we could be in a position to take industrial action as soon as possible. Unfortunately things have moved at a slower pace. We now need to accelerate.

Stand firm to win a reduced working week and a decent pay rise: prepare for action!

Tubeworker topics

Train prep ballot: Vote Yes!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 13:10

Management's plan to cut the frequency of train preparation from every 24 hours to every 96 hours will be disastrous for jobs, for safety, and for reliability.

Driven solely by penny-pinching, the cut - if it goes ahead - will see trains going into passenger service which have not been check for up to three days. Given the mileage that a train will have covered during that time, and the range of hazards and stresses it faces over that time, the likelihood of a fault is significant. That's why we check them every day, and why it is vital that we keep checking them every day.

Of course, we all know that. And the company probably knows that too. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

Polite representation will not change the company's mind, as money speaks very much louder to our bosses. Even impolite representation won't work - only industrial action will!

RMT is now balloting its Fleet members for action. We have no doubt that a huge majority will support the call for stikes and action short of strikes. But under Tory anti-union laws, a huge majority is not enough. We now have to reach thresholds which in practice are am unreasonably high bar designed to stop us exeercising our democratic right to withdraw our labour.

Until we get these and other anti-union laws repealed, we need to make sure that we reach these thresholds. So make sure you and all your workmates vote in teh ballot! The days of "It doesnt matter, there will be a Yes vote with or without my vote" are over. A Yes vote is now not enough. Turnout is also crucial.

Bring the Jobs Fights Together!

Submitted by Tubeworker 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.

Prepare for action in train prep fight

Submitted by Tubeworker 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.

Wins for station staff at Baker Street and Bakerloo Line South

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 20/12/2018 - 18:00

Station staff at Baker Street and the Bakerloo Line South Cover Group are finishing 2018 on a high after the threat of strikes forced concessions from management.

At Baker Street, an unjustly sacked probationer was reinstated, and trumped up disciplinary charges against two staff, including the local RMT rep, were dropped after workers returned a big majority for industrial action.

On the Bakerloo South Group, which includes Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross, Lambeth North, and Elephant and Castle, workers have forced a 180° u-turn from management on the issue of short staffing.

Management had been operating a policy of refusing to cover uncovered duties, citing budgetary concerns. A massive vote for action and the threat of a strike on Boxing Day forced a total climb down, with management committing in writing to cover all duties.

A second strike is planned for 14 January, which remains on as workers see if management keep to their word. It's important reps and activists keep a keen eye on management make sure they're enacting their commitments. And even if they behave themselves over the next two weeks, allowing for a possible suspension of January's strike, any backsliding must be met with action. The ballot mandate lasts until July, remember.

Notwithstanding this need to keep the pressure on to ensure commitments are met, these are both great results for station workers. Let’s spread the struggles!

Barking drivers plan strikes

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 20/12/2018 - 17:58

Aslef drivers at Barking depot on the Hammersmith and City Line will strike on 10 and 23 January, as yet another group of drivers encounters problems with depot management throwing their weight around and ignoring agreements.

Surely it’s time for a combine-wide drivers’ fight back against bullying bosses?

Central Line strikes off, but fight on the line must continue and spread

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 20/12/2018 - 17:13

RMT has suspended the strike of Central Line drivers planned for 21-22 December, which sought the reinstatement of sacked driver Paul Bailey, citing "new evidence" presented by management. The union's statement can be read here.

Whatever this "new evidence" is, it's something management have clearly been sitting on since the dispute began. Whether cock-up or conspiracy prevented them from releasing it until now, it's scandalous that they haven't done so. RMT has fought against a mismanaged procedure on the basis of the facts the union had available, and were entirely right to do so. Paul's case will now continue at Employment Tribunal, where those arguments about LU's woeful mishandling of the case can be pursued.

The strike also doubled up as action in a wider dispute about authoritarian management culture on the line. RMT reps says concessions on this have been secured, including a commitment from management to review ongoing attendance and disciplinary cases. Whether these are sufficient to have warranted the suspension of the strike is a difficult call, but it's important that this dispute is not allowed to fade away. We know from the experience of the Picc Line dispute that action may still be necessary to force management to keep to their commitments.

The disputes on the Central Line, Picc Line, and now on the H&C at Barking, where Aslef drivers plan strikes on 10 and 23 January, show that there's an obvious problem across the job with bosses at train depots throwing their weight around. Our unions need to show some joined-up thinking and coordinate the trains side disputes.

Bakerloo station staff to strike

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 13/12/2018 - 18:01

Station staff on the Bakerloo Line South Cover Group (Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross, Lambeth North, and Elephant and Castle) will strike on 26 December and 14 January, fighting back against short staffing.

The issues in the dispute are clear. Anyone who works at an even moderately busy station knows that staffing levels are already too low, and LU’s current culture of cost cutting means that when people are off sick or there are unfilled vacancies, those duties often go uncovered as the company doesn’t want to cough up for the overtime.

Tubeworker is no fan of overtime; we think there should be enough staff to cover the duties without it. But covering duties on OT is preferable to leaving them uncovered.

One or two duties uncovered in a day may not sound like much, but that translates to two people being on a gateline when there should be three, or one when there should be two. If you’re that one person... you feel it.

At Oxford Circus in particular, management have used a “traffic light” system, whereby duties are designated “green” or “amber” and therefore considered less important to cover than “red” duties. This sets an alarming precedent; if we allow the company to get away with designating certain duties as optional extras rather than must-haves, we open the door to those jobs being cut altogether.

The demands of the strikes are simple: LU must cover the duties, and conduct a review of the underlying staffing level where unions can make a case for additional jobs.

The ballot for the strikes saw a 88% vote for action on a 66% turnout, easily clearing the double-threshold of the Tory anti-union laws. The local reps and activists ran a confident, well-organised campaign to get the vote out, and it worked. A clear message about the strength of feeling in the workplace has been sent to the company.

There’s been some debate inside RMT about the merits of calling a strike on Boxing Day. Tubeworker agrees there are pitfalls; in general we think it’s better to strike when business and The City is up and running to maximise our economic impact. There is a risk that striking on Boxing Day could be misinterpreted as aiming to affect the wrong people (i.e., ordinary folk traveling to see friends and family after Christmas).

But there is also a logic to striking on this day. The threat of disruption to the Boxing Day sales at the big stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street gives the strike a potential economic leverage. Crucially, on Boxing Day it will also be much harder for LU to ship in managers in pink hi-vis (aka “Ambassadors”) to keep the station open. And ultimately, station closures, or the threat of them, is our primary form of leverage on the job.

It’s important, though, that a second strike, on a “business day” was also named. Naming the 14 January strike lets the company know that this isn’t just about making a token protest. It also means that, should LU make an acceptable offer prior to Boxing Day, the prospect of the 14 January strike acts as pressure to stop them reneging.

As of now, the ball is in the bosses’ court. Either they give concrete guarantees to scrap their “traffic light” system and commit to covering duties and reviewing the staffing level, or we will strike on 26 December.

Union declares victory in “battle of Baker Street”

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 09/12/2018 - 22:33

RMT has declared victory in “the battle of Baker Street”, after London Underground reinstated an unjustly sacked CSA, and trumped-up disciplinary charges against a CSS were dropped.

LU were forced to back down after 41 out of 61 workers balloted at the station voted for strikes (on a turnout of 45). This showed a clear strength of feeling at the station and made certain that any strikes would have a serious impact.

Local reps and activists say this is the first battle in an ongoing fight against a culture of management bullying.

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