Engineering and fleet

Engineering Management Put Workers At Risk

Published on: Sat, 28/03/2020 - 10:33

London Underground's engineering management has surpassed themselves with wanton risk-taking with workers' health.

Management have sent an Employee Bulletin to all workers in Asset Operations telling us that although we should obviously try to stay two metres apart, then if we can't, just crack on anyway.

Er, no. Don't. Protect yourself, your family, your workmates. Stick to social distancing, and if that means the work can't be done, don't do it.

Note: bosses and workers are not 'all in this together'.

Tubeworker topics

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Lillie Bridge engineers: ballot now on LU pay!

Published on: Sat, 22/02/2020 - 18:36

In debates within the union about whether RMT should ballot over LU pay/conditions, some have cited the alleged unwillingness of members in non-operational grades to do so as an impediment.

But that’s certainly not the case at Lillie Bridge egineering depot in west London. A recent workplace meeting to discuss LU pay resulted in a strong consensus for a ballot. A report from the meeting said: "After the situation was laid out by the reps [...] spontaneous shouts of 'ballot, ballot, ballot!' broke free from the workforce." The meeting was attended by P-Way workers, track welders, and workers from ultrasonics, lubrication, and track workshops.

So, rather than looking for reasons not to fight, let’s try to generalise the spirit of the Lillie Bridge engineers!

Tubeworker topics

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Fighting for direct employment on the track

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 00:23

The scourge of outsourcing on London Underground is not limited to cleaning and catering. Protection and possession work is also substantially outsourced, with companies like Cleshar and Morsons providing agency workers to work as possession masters during engineering jobs on the track.

Sub-sub-contracting is also rife, with many workers technically classed as "self-employed" rather than even employees of the agency. At the end of last year, RMT held referenda amongst some groups of "self-employed" members, which returned substantial majorities for taking industrial action to win better conditions and direct employment. LU bosses now seem intent on imposing a new contract arrangement where they deal with a single labour supply agency, who then provides sub-contracted "self-employed" workers who would only be paid per job. As well as being flagrantly exploitative and unjust, this entire arrangement is of dubious legality, and several high-profile court cases, including one against Pimlico Plumbers, have established legal precedents that make clear bosses cannot treat workers as "self-employed contractors" when they are clearly working on the same basis as a salaried employee.

RMT plans to renew its campaign, demanding secure, direct employment for all protection and possession workers. If you work for London Underground, you should be employed by London Underground, on LU terms and conditions. Simple.

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Contractor Death Shocks All Tube Workers

Published on: Wed, 25/09/2019 - 10:31

It was shocking and heartbreaking for all of us to hear about the death of a colleague working on the travelator at Waterloo last week. Our thoughts are with his workmates, family and friends.

This shows that even though we are now in the twenty-first century, the railway industry is still a dangerous place to work.

Details have been show to emerge, but we hope that the causes will be thoroughly investigated in order to prevent a recurrence. It is essential that this does not just look at the immediate causes, but at the impact of how this work is organised. There may have been a specific error or fault at the time, but behind that might be issues with staffing levels or training, or with the whole practice of contracting this work out to private companies.

Tubeworker topics

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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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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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"Transformation" rolls on: strikes can stop it in its tracks

Published on: Sat, 30/03/2019 - 13:56

As part of the latest phase of the TfL/LUL "Transformation" programme, management has announced sweeping job cuts in Track Access Control, Power Control, Service Control, LUCC, Skills Development, Waste, Pumps, Stations Building & Civils, and Signals Incidents.

Workers who play a vital role in maintaining the safe running of the Tube could see their jobs deleted and find themselves redeployed or forced out of the door.

Unions were hampered in fighting the previous stage of "Transformation", that saw stations admin jobs slashed, partially due to a low density of membership but partially also due to a sluggishness in terms of mobilising a campaign on the shopfloor beyond the negotiations.

We need to learn from that this time. Union density in the affected areas this time is higher, which should put us in a better position to fight back. The cuts have been announced; we must resist. Ballot for strikes now!

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Fleet workers: vote yes for strikes!

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2019 - 11:49

RMT's ballot for strikes and action short of strikes to defend train preparation schedules closes on 2 April. Tubeworker urges all LU Fleet workers to vote yes/yes.

The union must urgently look to spread the dispute if fleet-only action proves insufficient to force management to back down.

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