Defend - And Extend! - The Core Work Agreement

Published on: Thu, 25/08/2016 - 20:54

A strike ballot is imminent for RMT members on fleet, as they resist the company's breaches of the Core Work Agreement.

This agreement, hard won in struggle, places clear restrictions on the amount of agency labour the company can use, and guarantees that all the integral work will be done by directly-employed LU staff. Management have been cutting corners with the agreement for some time: it has to stop.

This issue doesn't just affect workers on fleet. If management get away with flagrant breaches of this agreement, they'll try their luck elsewhere. Unions should fight to extent the principle of the Core Work Agreement to other parts of the job, especially engineering and cleaning, where the use of agency labour is rife.

This isn't about kicking the agency workers off the job. As always, the principle should be: "sack the agencies, not the workers!" We want all workers currently working on LU to be directly employed, with the same rights and benefits.

Strikes to defend the Core Work Agreement on fleet could be a launchpad for a wider campaign for direct employment elsewhere.

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Strikes Ahead On H&C

Published on: Thu, 25/08/2016 - 20:43

RMT drivers at the Edgware Road and Hammersmith depots on the Hammersmith and City Line have voted by big majorities for strikes. The timing opens up the possibility for H&C drivers to take action on the same day as the next strike days on Southern, on 7-8 September, which would be an excellent symbol of unity.

The dispute on the H&C is over train side management abusing procedures and policies to arbitrarily discipline staff, and acting in an authoritarian manner. It's a pattern we're seeing across depots, with similar issues on the Piccadilly Line and elsewhere, as well as on stations.

With possible new disputes on the horizon elsewhere, isn't it time to tie these fights together?

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Drivers' Ballots

Published on: Sat, 23/07/2016 - 01:50

RMT is balloting drivers on the Victoria Line, in a dispute over the Night Tube rosters. Reps weren’t properly consulted, and the new rosters threaten work/life balance.

Meanwhile, engineering train drivers are demanding pay parity, after some were awarded a 6.3% pay increase that workers rightly insist should apply to all of them. RMT is also balloting its members in this grade.

The union should also act swiftly on the request from its Central Line East branch for a ballot of driver members in their dispute over displacements, and urgently seek to coordinate any resulting action from the three ballots as much as possible.

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"Fit for the Future": New dispute on the horizon?

Published on: Wed, 29/06/2016 - 10:45

The RMT's National Executive Committee has announced it is "preparing a ballot matrix" for possible further strikes over the consequences of "Fit for the Future", the massive restructure on stations that saw nearly 1,000 jobs cuts, ticket offices closed, mass displacements, and forced regrading of every member of station staff.

"Preparing a ballot matrix" is a somewhat trade-union jargon-y way of saying: "getting the paperwork ready for a strike ballot".

This announcement comes after several RMT branches on LU passed resolutions calling for new disputes, either against "Fit for the Future" as a whole, or against specific aspects of its consequences.

This is a very positive step after nearly a year of no action. There's a lot of work to do to build up to a dispute that will be capable of pushing LU back, but, as the old cliché goes, any journey must start with a single step! RMT announcing that it plans to move back into a dispute situation on stations is that step.

Tubeworker suggests some questions for discussion - in mess rooms and branch meetings - that might help us give our potential new dispute some shape:

  • What are our demands? No industrial dispute can be successful unless it has clear, concrete demands that those involved in the dispute understand and are behind. Most of us on stations would like to see "Fit for the Future" reversed, but we also know that the level of action required to achieve that would be a significant step up from anything we've taken before. What immediate demands might we focus on to build up to more sustained action over bigger demands - increases in staffing levels at badly hit areas? A review of locations and displacements? Salary enhancement for increased responsibilities or antisocial working arising from new grades (e.g. CSAs who now handle cash or ex-SAMFs who now do nights)? All of these and more should be considered.
  • Who should be involved? At the moment, RMT is talking about balloting stations and revenue staff only, and RMT is the only union talking about a new dispute. The consequences of "Fit for the Future" are felt particularly sharply (although not exclusively) on stations, but we should not limit ourselves to a "stations-only" dispute. We all knew all along that "Fit for the Future" was merely one aspect of a huge cuts package that would affect all grades; there are already rumblings about a possible restructure on trains side, and a developing dispute on fleet. We should aspire to a single dispute involving all grades, that ties the issues together. If that's not immediately possible, disputes involving single grades/functions should be coordinated to maximise impact. Other unions need to pull their fingers out too!
  • What kind of action should we take? Our usual pattern for industrial action is to launch an OT ban, then have a strike of 24 or 48 hours, possibly followed by another strike around a month later. It's rare that we take a more creative approach. Earlier this year, before a planned strike of station staff against "Fit for the Future" was called off, there were interesting discussions about creative forms of action, such as selective strikes of particular shifts. Those discussions should be re-opened. The aim is to maximise the impact on the employer. Any and all proposals for doing that should be considered.
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    Defending Agreements on Fleet

    Published on: Mon, 13/06/2016 - 16:24

    RMT members on Fleet are gearing up for a battle to defend their working agreements, which LU are trying to erode. RMT has declared an official dispute, and is preparing a ballot for industrial action.

    LU has outsourced the airbag replacement programme on the S-Stock to external contractors Bombardier and JMac, in a clear breach of the "Core Work Agreement", which sets limits on the amount and types of work that can be done by contractors. LU are now playing fast and loose with its definitions, saying it now believes all warranty work - i.e., practically anything at all! - can be done by Bombardier staff. LU has also failed to honour an agreement to take S-Stock shoe gear inspections, which were carried out by Bombardier staff on a trial basis, back in house if the trial inspections failed to resolve the issue.

    As ever, our attitude should be: sack the agencies, not the workers! We want all work on LU - whether that's inspections or maintenance on Fleet, or cleaning on stations, or anything else - to be done by directly-employed, properly-trained LU staff.

    LU's attempts to casualise, outsource, and de-skill the job on Fleet mirror similar attempts elsewhere. On stations, cleaning has long been outsourced, and ticketing work has also now been effectively de-skilled (CSAs, paid £30k and given just a few days' training, are now doing work previously done by SAMFs, paid £36k and with weeks of training).

    Tube workers in all other functions and areas should stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues on Fleet in their fight to defend agreements and direct employment!

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    Tube Lines strike ballot rains on Night Tube parade?

    Published on: Tue, 24/05/2016 - 16:15

    Tube Lines engineering and maintenance workers have voted by over 85% for strikes, after LU refused to discuss ongoing pensions issues until after the launch of Night Tube.

    Pensions is just one of a series of struggles Tube Lines workers currently face: there are also outstanding issues relating to pay, and Night Tube staffing levels.

    The huge majority for strikes, and the even bigger one for action short of strikes, shows the strength of feeling on these issues.

    Our unions, rightly in our view, support 24-hour running, but insist that it must not be imposed over workers' heads but introduced safely and on a basis that addresses our concerns. Without us - cleaners, drivers, station staff, maintenance and engineering workers, signallers, service controllers, and others - there is no Night Tube. We won't suspend our struggles so Night Tube can be rushed in.

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    Lillie Bridge Engineers Prepare For Strikes

    Published on: Thu, 14/04/2016 - 12:11

    RMT is preparing to ballot its members in the Lillie Bridge engineering depot for strikes, as Boris Johnson and TfL/LU attempt to accelerate the process of moving work out of the depot so it can be demolished to make way for luxury flats.

    The proposed demolition is part of a wider plan to "redevelop" large swathes of the Earls Court area, so BoJo's super-rich mates can speculate on the luxury accommodation that will be built there. Consultations and "feasibility studies" have been rushed through, or side-stepped altogether, meaning Lillie Bridge workers are in the dark about what will happen to them if and when the redevelopment takes place. The union is demanding a binding, top-level agreement to guarantee that workers' rights don't become collateral damage for property developers' greed.

    RMT has supported the wider Save Earls Court campaign, which has sought to block the redevelopment, which is in no-one's interests but the rich. There is no timetable for the ballot as yet, but when it is announced, and when a yes vote is returned (as we confidently expect it will be), we hope housing campaigners and local community activists will be joining RMT engineers on the picket lines. A solid strike could seriously disrupt the developers' plans.


    Submitted by AWL on Mon, 25/04/2016 - 15:50

    In reply to by neitherwashing…

    See Tubeworker's comment on Wild's appointment here.

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    H&C Drivers Fight Back

    Published on: Mon, 04/04/2016 - 16:09

    "Breaches of the attendance at work policy, an overbearing management team, refusal to release reps for meetings, and misuse of the disciplinary policy": those are the charges levelled by RMT drivers on the Hammersmith & City Line at their bosses. (See the union statement here.)

    Workers from elsewhere on the job will have no trouble believing them. It's an increasingly common pattern, and one that drivers on the Piccadilly Line are already in dispute over, staging rock solid strike recently.

    RMT has now gone into dispute with H&C management too. We hope a ballot for action will shortly be forthcoming, and in quick enough time to allow for coordination with the next strikes on the Picc, currently set for 19-20 April. And if the issues seem to be pretty general, maybe it's time for some more generalised action?

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    Official Picc-et

    Published on: Thu, 24/03/2016 - 10:27

    Not a train is running, and there is not a strike-breaker in sight on the Piccadilly line this morning. With RMT out on the whole line and ASLEF at Arnos Grove, it seems that Society members at Acton and Northfields don't want to be the jokers in the pack and have stayed away as well.

    There would not be a clearer message to management that Picc drivers won't put up with being pushed around.

    If LUL wants its line to run again, it needs to cancel the disciplinaries and stop the line management's silly clampdown. Local empire-builders and wannabe tyrants, be warned: you have been stopped in your tracks.

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    Take Your Picc

    Published on: Thu, 17/03/2016 - 23:27

    RMT drivers on the Picc Line will strike against an out-of-control management on 23-24 March, 19-20 April, and 20-21 April. We hope members of the Associated Society will be joining picket lines too.

    RMT reported that negotiations aimed at resolving the dispute were sabotaged by uncooperative bosses.

    Workers in pretty much every function, grade, and area will recognise the picture from the Picc: managers drunk on power, wielding disciplinary sanctions in an arbitrary and authoritarian fashion. That seems to be the flavour of the month (year?) for LU managers right across the board.

    A solid strike on the Picc could stop managers at Picc depots in their tracks, and send a strong signal to dictatorial bosses elsewhere on the job.

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