Underneath the Sta(i)rs

Published on: Fri, 21/12/2018 - 18:43

In what appears to be a personal contract across multiple cover groups, Mariah Carey is the newest member of station staff at Waterloo, Stratford and London Bridge. Although Tubeworker hasn't spotted her on the gateline.

Perhaps the Mayor can ask for some of her reported $520m (Earning only slightly less than a Train Op, h/t the Evening Standard) to plug the central government funding gap. Sister Carey has taken over the safety announcements, reminding people to stand behind the yellow line and to hold on to the handrail...Oh and she gets to plug her new album too.

At this time it's not clear how much she has been paid but no doubt, against all odds an intrepid FOI request from a respectable journalist will get to the bottom of it. Tubeworker just asks that she don't forget about us if she goes back to her potentially less lucrative career.

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New school vs old school?

Published on: Fri, 21/09/2018 - 11:21

London Underground is attempting to change the culture on the job. Fit for the Future introduced management into the day-to-day stations environment for the first time. LU has appeared recently to favour recruiting from industries with little culture of union organisation.

It has run recent supervisor or management promotion campaigns that have promoted people with, say, a year's experience, overlooking people with 20 years on the job. The impression we get is that it wants bright young things who are not "set in their ways". A lot of us feel resentful. It's a kick in the teeth to have devoted the majority of your adult life to the company, working shifts that wreck your health and social/family life, then get towards the end of your career and feel that LU doesn't value your experience one bit.

Underlying all this is London Underground's drive to create a culture where it's more common to love management than join a union.

The good news is that, while LU has changed its recruitment priorities, it has not changed our conditions - at least not for the better. Inhuman shifts, bullying over sickness: the basic need for a union to challenge management's power and improve our lives has not gone away. We need to resist management's attempt to divide "new school" vs. "old school". We are all in the same boat. We might join with no experience of belonging to a union, but we soon learn that we need one!

LU hopes to take advantage of newer staff, that they will be happy to do more work for less money. All the more reason for the 'old' to reach out to the new, making sure all are in a union and no-one is taken advantage of.

Some changes are positive; for example, it's great that LU's workforce is now more diverse, (although we know LU could do more to tackle discrimination at work). But we should make sure that LU does not succeed in diluting union power in the name of progress.

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Resist "duty creep", fight for one CSA grade!

Published on: Sat, 10/03/2018 - 13:53

LU bosses provoked widespread outrage on Friday, when they uploaded a new document on the role of CSA2s to the company Intranet.

The subject of the document - exactly what CSA2s can and can't do - has been the focus of negotiations between LU and union reps for months, negotiations that were very much ongoing. LU's decision to upload the document represented a clear attempt to bypass those talks.

The list of tasks that aren't part of the CSA2 role had been subtly altered, for example to suggest they could have more involvement in Persons-Ill-On-Trains situations. The document also included a new form of words, strongly opposed by unions, about whether CSA2s can be used as part of minimum numbers at "1+1" stations (stations where the minimum numbers comprise one supervisory grade worker and one CSA).

A swift response from union reps saw the document withdrawn, but the motivations behind uploading it remain. The creation of the CSA2 grade was a great bit of business from the company's point of view: a new corps of workers, paid £6,000 less than CSA1s and £11,000 less than the former ticket office staff, who can do customer service and cash handling work! The risk of "duty creep", of LU gradually adding more and more tasks that CSA2s could do until there was no distinction at all between 1s and 2s, was clear and present from the start. Many of us suspect LU's long-term aim is to abolish the CSA1 grade and give everyone another unpaid promotion, a la "Fit for the Future", where we're all expected to take on the responsibilities of the grade above but without the additional money. The uploading of this document suggests those suspicions are founded.

Unions need to be clear on what they're fighting for: we're not trying to restrict what CSA2s can and can't do for the sake of it, or because we love grade hierarchies. Quite the opposite: we want CSAs' training, licensing, and salaries to be levelled up, rather than levelled down. We want the CSA2 grade scrapped. But short of that, we can't let management pull a fast one by continuously bleeding the grades into each other as a precursor to scrapping the CSA1 grade.

With talks on our pay, terms, and conditions due to commence soon, ahead of the expiry of the current deal in 2019, workers need to be pushing our unions to put the issue of CSA2s front and centre.

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In the Sexism Club?

Published on: Thu, 13/04/2017 - 11:25

LUL managers appear to think they are in the TV series 'Life on Mars' as they have woken up in the 1970s (or even earlier) and banned pregnant women from driving trains. They have thrown a particular woman - Kyria Pohl - off her Train Operator training course, and stated that yes, this is because they will no longer allow pregnant women to be in training or to drive a train.

Note to management: PREGNANCY IS NOT AN ILLNESS. Moreover, every pregnancy is different, and while some women may need to avoid particular work tasks while they are expecting, many do not. It is not management's job to treat women staff as though they are fragile and/or incapable: it is to protect their safety and respect their rights. Instead, the company seems determine to deny pregnancy women their dignity and rights - and in the case of trainees such as Kyria, their income as well: being kicked of the course means not getting T/Op training rates of pay, then full rates once passed out.

Fortunately for Kyria, she has a strong and effective union rep at her side, and RMT lawyers are already looking at this case. After all, it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of pregnancy.

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Night Tube Drivers Win

Published on: Thu, 13/04/2017 - 08:54

Night Tube drivers have won their fight with management for a fair chance at moving into full-time jobs.

They had previously been locked in by a ridiculous rule that they had to stay put for 18 months, fifty per cent longer than the standard one year waiting time to move. As usual, management remained intransigent until strike action loomed, with NT drivers delivering a whopping vote in the ballot - at which point management suddenly saw the injustice in the 18-month bar and agreed to relax it.

The dispute resolution has put Night Tube drivers on a level par with full-time station staff applying to be full-time drivers. This is good news, as we did not want to go from one grade being unfairly disadvantaged to another being unfairly disadvantaged instead.

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Night Fight

Published on: Tue, 21/02/2017 - 23:18

RMT and Aslef have now declared disputes with LU over issues affecting Night Tube drivers: their exclusion from full-time jobs, and the unfair application of the overtime rate (full-time drivers get OT payments for any hours worked over 35/week, for example in the result of delays, suspensions, etc., but as Night Tube drivers, on 16-hour contracts, will never hit this threshold, they get no extra pay if their duties overrun).

Unions are demanding that Night Tube drivers be given the right to take up full-time drivers' jobs Tubeworker welcomes the move into dispute over this clear discrimination.

Now, RMT (the only union to organise on both trains and stations) must press for a clear and fair promotion path for ALL London Underground workers. Night Tube station staff are asking, “What about us?”

Many Night Tube station workers, like their driver colleagues, took the job as a stepping stone to full-time work for the underground. Others, like numerous other station staff, hoped to become drivers. It must be made clear to London Underground that station staff must be prioritised to fill part-time driver vacancies created by Night Tube drivers moving into full time roles.

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How Moving

Published on: Thu, 22/09/2016 - 18:15

The situation for many station staff regarding movements, transfers, and promotions is dreadful. Many of us were displaced into locations we never asked to go to and now seemingly have no way of getting out, while others of us who want to stay where we are face forcible displacement.

It's all the chaotic consequence of an unnecessary regrading and cuts programme.

Here's Tubeworker's novel suggestion: employ enough staff to do the work, and only move us if we've volunteered (either via applying for promotion or by requesting a move).

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Published on: Thu, 08/09/2016 - 19:24

Some station staff have received a letter from management about 'self-demotion', setting out the terms of the pay cut that will apply should you sign your agreement.

(This is supposed to be only for staff who have preferenced to work in a lower grade than their substantive grade. So if that doesn't apply to you and you got one anyway, then object.)

But for those who have preferenced a lower grade, is it fair to treat this a self-demotion and apply a pay cut?

Management are at least seeking your confirmation that you understand that your pay will be cut rather than leaving you to get a nasty shock when you open your next pay slip. But is it right that you get a pay cut at all?

In the ordinary scheme of things, if you choose to move into a lower grade then you're going to get your pay cut. But this isn't the ordinary scheme of things - it's the result of a massive and unfair reorganisation in which many people's new substantive grade includes duties, hours and/or locations different from those they had previously, and which they feel unable to do. You may, for example, not have worked nights before and be unable to do so, but your substantive grade requires you to; or maybe the only posts in your substantive grade are at locations which prevent you from meeting family or other responsibilities. In this sort of situation, your 'choice' to self-demote is not really a choice at all. Probably most of the people in this position will have felt that they had no choice.

So, Tubeworker suggests that should you get one of these letters, you speak with your union rep rather than sign it straightaway. You may have a case to retain your pay rate, or to have adjustments made to make it possible for you to work at your substantive grade.

A circular from the unions giving similar advice would be very welcome.

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TMS Stress

Published on: Mon, 05/09/2016 - 11:50

Ticket Machine Servicing (TMS) training is now a compulsory aspect of the CSA2 training programme at Ashfield House. That means LU is saving £13,000 per year per worker graduating from that course: CSA2s are being paid £23k p/a to do work that a SAMF used to get £36k for. It's an almighty con.

When RMT (and, we hope, TSSA) relaunch disputes over the fallout from "Fit for Fuck All", they should make this scandal one of the issues around which we build demands.

Responsible work that involves cash-handling deserves proper remuneration. Unions should demand that any CSA1 or CSA2 licensed to do ex-SAMF work (i.e., anything involving cash-handling or servicing machines) is given a salary enhancement for every shift where they do this work; CSAs who do not want to handle cash should have the right to refuse.

There's a bit of a grey area at the minute, as LU has said we can take the TMS assessment as many times as necessary without facing any disciplinary action. However, this guarantee doesn't apply to new trainees, who have to pass the test to graduate from Ashfield House.

Not all of us want to handle cash. The fair approach is to reinstate proper payment for the job and to give those of us who don't want to do it an opt-out.

No more unpaid promotions!

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Promotion without a Pay Rise

Published on: Thu, 21/01/2016 - 14:33

What's all this then?

It's a list of ticketing duties that LUL is now demanding that CSAs learn (in our own time) and get qualified in.

In other words, we will be selling tickets, doing all the things that SAMFs used to do except sit at a window. For and SAMF salary? No, for our CSA salary.

Fit for the Future - Stations makes every grade do the work of the current grade that is a level above it. But changing the job titles, management think they can get away with giving us a promotion (in terms of our workload and responsibilities) without a pay rise. That way, they probably reckon they can get away with giving us actual promotions with actual par rises.

Management, as ever, get away with what we let them get away with. Let's draw a line. Don't accept this.

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