Ruislip depot dispute: management all at sea

Published on: Sun, 18/02/2018 - 02:00

At Ruislip depot, the train maintenance dispute has got the company well and truly rattled.

On Thursday, management kicked off an offensive against workers taking official (and therefore legally protected) industrial action short of strikes, singling out individuals in a bid to break the action.

They even sent the apprentices back to the training centre, saying that the depot was not a suitable learning environment for them. Here at Tubeworker, we think it sounds like an ideal learning environment - a hands-on, practical study of workers standing up for ourselves and fighting back.

Management appear to be out of their depth, not knowing what to do when faced with solid, concerted action. Perhaps the simplest thing for them to do now is to concede an honourable defeat and pay us properly for the work we do.

After all, their strategy of attempting to demoralise us has backfired, with the industrial action more determined and effective than ever.

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Is ISS shipping in strike-breakers?

Published on: Thu, 01/02/2018 - 14:58

Cleaners and security workers employed by ISS on the DLR contract struck again today. The strike will last until 3 February; workers have also planned a work-to-rule from 5 February.

The strike follows a successful action on New Year's Eve, and is over a raft of issues; ISS has unilaterally slashed some workers' hours, and has refused to meaningfully negotiate with RMT over pay.

Reports from the picket line suggest that ISS may be shipping in workers from other contracts to break the strike. Although it is illegal for employers to bring in agency staff to cover the work of strikers, loopholes in the law and sub-contracting arrangements can allow them to bring in their own employees from other areas. This means that ISS staff who normally work on reception desks in a bank could be brought in to work as security on a major public transport system. It's not safe for them or the passengers! The strike-breaking in this instance seems brazen, with nervous looking workers telling pickets they'd been told they needed to work on the DLR today "because of the strike".

Unions must challenging this outrageous practise. Further action is planned for later in the month.

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DLR ISS workers to strike again

Published on: Thu, 18/01/2018 - 09:27

Cleaners and security workers employed by ISS on the DLR will strike again from 1-3 February.

Following a solid strike on New Year's Eve, RMT is organising further action in an attempt to force ISS to adhere to its own agreed procedures for negotiating changes to working practises. The union also wants ISS to respond to its pay claim.

As well as the strike, RMT has also called action-short-of-strike from 5-10 February, in the form of a work-to-rule around risk assessments.

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Asset Operations Boxing Day dispute: good news and bad news

Published on: Thu, 04/01/2018 - 13:36

Asset Operations workers balloted for strikes to secure the same Boxing Day bonus other engineering workers get.

After RMT balloted its members, management agreed to pay the bonus to most workers. Unfortunately, however, the ballot failed to meet the turnout threshold required by the new anti-union laws.

So, two important lessons: one, sometimes even the threat of action will force concessions. And two, it’s vital every member votes in industrial action ballots!

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"Roadmap" to pay parity at Ruislip Depot

Published on: Thu, 04/01/2018 - 13:31

RMT members at the ex-AP JNP Transplant Depot at Ruislip planned a work-to-rule from 20 December, in a dispute to win pay parity with Engineering Train Operators and others, who’d recently secured a 6.1% pay increase.

Perhaps knowing that an effective work-to-rule could stop the job, management came back to the table, and have agreed a “roadmap” to pay parity.

They’ll need holding to this commitment; industrial action may still be necessary in future.

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Engineering workers to vote on strikes against Scrooge bosses

Published on: Mon, 04/12/2017 - 15:01

LU gives additional payments to, or makes special arrangements for, workers in many departments for working over Christmas and Boxing Day. The unions' ongoing battles for fair working practises for drivers on Boxing Day are well known.

But Asset Operations workers have no additional payment or any other form of recognition or remuneration for working over these days, despite the obvious impact on work/life balance.

That's why RMT members in Asset Operations are balloting for strikes to demand parity with other workers who have access to additional payments or special arrangements for Christmas/Boxing Day working. Their strike ballot closes on 12 December.

We'd like to see RMT spread the (festive) spirit of this dispute to other areas. Station staff have to work Christmas Eve and Boxing Day without any additional payments, as do cleaners. All workers should have the right to social and family time at Christmas if they want it, so let's hope the Asset Operations dispute is the launchpad for a wider fight.

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Votes yes for action at Ruislip depot!

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2017 - 11:47

Train maintainers and maintenance and stores workers at Ruislip Transplant Depot are balloting for strikes to win pay parity.

Workers are being paid unequally for doing the same work, and Advanced Train Maintainers, Team Leaders, and Duty Maintenance Managers who do train prep work and sign off trains as fit for service are being denied the associated pay enhancement.

The RMT ballot begins on 21 November and closes on 6 December.

With LU looking to cut train prep times and possibly reduce jobs, winning this struggle for pay equality could put us on the front foot and knock management's plans.

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Danny Davis: back on the front in 2018

Published on: Fri, 27/10/2017 - 00:47

The Director’s Review into the sacking of Danny Davis has concluded that he will be reinstated with a guaranteed job as a train driver from 12 months after the date he was sacked. He is already about six months into that period, having been recently been reinstated as a CSA.

This is a great win for workers’ solidarity. Undoubtedly we'd all prefer to see Danny reinstated as a driver immediately, but the fact is that forcing a previously intransigent management first to reinstate him as a CSA, and then to guarantee reinstatement as a driver after a fixed period is still a victory. What forced this climb down from the company was the thumping majority for strikes secured by RMT Central Line drivers.

The campaign in the depots has been exemplary. Workplaces were plastered with propaganda and communication, making sure everyone knew the facts of the case. Members were engaged and encouraged to take an active role, speaking to friends and colleagues to raise the profile of the case and ensure everyone returned their ballot papers. The leadership of workplace reps across Central Line depots was key.

The lesson for all of us, wherever we work and whatever our grade, is that solidarity is our best weapon. When we stand up and say that we will not let the bosses ride roughshod over us, whether on an individual basis or collectively, and back that up with votes for strikes, we can force the employer back.

Tubeworker extends our congratulations to Danny and all reps, activists, and members at Central Line train depots for a battle well fought.

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Solidarity with the Picturehouse cinema workers' strikes!

Published on: Fri, 06/10/2017 - 20:14

Workers at the Picturehouse cinema chain, owned by corporate giant Cineworld, have been in dispute for over a year to win living wages, union recognition, and other workplace rights. They're in the Bectu union, now a section of Prospect. Four of their reps at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton have been sacked for their role in organising the strikes, and Picturehouse has threatened any worker who continues to participate in industrial action with dismissal. RMT has been a steadfast supporter of their fight, with the national union passing a resolution of support at the 2017 AGM after several branches committed support at a local level.

The Finsbury Park RMT branch, which organises Brixton station, and the Bakerloo Line RMT branch, which organises Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus stations, near to the Picturehouse Central cinema, have been particularly active in supporting the Picturehouse workers. On Friday 6 October, the day of the workers' latest strike, union reps at Brixton, Picc, and Oxo could be seen taking Picturehouse workers round mess rooms to meet Tube workers, tell their stories, and build support for their strikes.

It's always good to be reminded that, as workers, we're part of a class, and that as trade unionists, we're part of a wider movement.

For more info on the dispute, click here. Sign the workers' online petition here, and donate to their strike fund here.

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Aslef strike off

Published on: Fri, 06/10/2017 - 19:28

What’s in the settlement Aslef called off Thursday’s strike for? Well, it’s not entirely clear.

Union reports to members say the four-day-week trial on the Jubilee Line will be "analysed", and if seen as unsuccessful, a "nine-day-fortnight" may be looked at instead. LU have also said that the current steps to reduce weekend working will continue after the 2015-2019 pay deal expires. Additionally, the company has reportedly agreed to allow three drivers per depot to move to "pro-rata four-day working", on top of existing agreements.

This is not quite the combine-wide rollout of the trial some as Aslef officials were looking for (and, it seems, called a strike for). As we’ve said before, Tubeworker isn’t wild about the model. It involves extending the maximum driving time, and we’re far from convinced that a “four-day week” that actually involves, in any given shift, working longer is worth having.

As the analysis and possible new trials continue, we want to see unions pushing back against changes to frameworks and parameters. That’ll be hard for Aslef to do, as they’ve already accepted the principle of longer driving time in exchange for the four-day week. So it may be down to rank-and-file Aslef members who don’t want nine and 10-hour shifts as standard to organise within their union to make their leaders change course.

What’s needed is a joint union dispute for work/life balance across all grades, demanding a 32-hour, four-day week for all.

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