Fit for the Future - Stations dispute 2016-17

(Un)happy birthday, Fit for the Future!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 12/04/2017 - 23:01

Fit for the Future, which "celebrated" its first birthday last week, changed normal working life for every member of station staff.

Before FftF, we'd gotten used to the distinction between "rostered" and "reserve" staff (not including SRT). Now, we are all reserves, with many weeks on our roster down as "Cover Weeks" where we can be sent anywhere on our Cover Group at very short notice.

Every member of staff who has stayed on the stations has had their job role changed drastically. Staff have been forced into roles against their will with little or no training, or money to compensate.

Here's the low down: Station Supervisors are now CSMs, which combines the SS role and the old DSM roles. They are now doing DSM jobs on the same money as they were before. This affects all CSMs, particularly CSM2s who have to run a station at the same time as doing their DSM role. The stress is unbelievable and staff have gone sick with stress, anxiety and depression over it. This is unacceptable. The support has not been there, they’re expected to train on the job. All three CSM grades are doing this role on the same money they were on before FftF; it's not.

It also means that, for the first time ever, operational staff are regularly working "on the shop floor" alongside people who have disciplinary power over them. By devolving disciplinary authority to frontline level, management are hoping to turn Supervisors into police officers and divide the workforce.

Former ticket sellers, SAMFs, have been forced into the role of Station Supervisor, now called "Customer Service Supervisors". Their options were: redundancy; take a pay cut and become a CSA; or move into a Customer Service Supervisor role.

This is a huge responsibility as we can all understand running a station on your own must be hard work. They didn’t want this, they got no pay rise whatsoever, forced into a role that some of them struggle greatly with.

Customer Service Assistants are now SAMFs. It is compulsory that we are trained in the ticket office floating and servicing machines. Handling money. Our manager says that we will all be trained eventually. For what? The same wages? In every other industry, roles that involve cash handling are paid more. With the creation of the CSA2 grade, who are paid £23k (£7k less than CSA1s), but are still forced to do ticket office work, LU has managed to wrangle it so those that do regular cash-handling work are paid *less* than those who don't!

We risk of losing our jobs if we make a mistake because we are doing a job that has been forced upon us. Most CSAs don’t mind a little extra responsibility, but want to be properly trained and fairly compensated for it, as SAMFs were.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The situation is absurd. On top of these changes to our roles, thousands of staff have been forcibly displaced to new locations, wasting years of local knowledge accumulated at their stations and wrecking work/life balance.

And, at the root of FftF, a huge swathe of job cuts. Nearly 1,000 frontline posts were slashed by LU, meaning fewer people had to do more work. Our strikes clawed back hundreds of jobs, but we're still left facing a cut of between 400-500.

The new grading system is with us now, but we must fight for substantial pay rises to compensate us for the increased workload and responsibility, as well as a fair system for allowing us to work at stations we choose to rather than being treated like pawns. If we stand together, we can win.

Stations dispute wins concessions: celebrate the wins, organise to push for more!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 06/02/2017 - 12:17

RMT suspended strikes planned for 5-8 February, and called off its overtime ban. The suspension of action was a response to a new proposal from LU, made in Acas negotiations on Thursday 2 February, which involves some significant concessions. These include 325 additional jobs, and guaranteed promotion for all existing CSA2s to CSA1.

There's no doubt that these concessions are big wins for us. When we began this dispute, the company was intransigent, insisting that not a single penny was available for a single additional job, and that the CSA2 issue was non-negotiable. After three months of a highly effective overtime ban, which led to over 100 station closures, and unprecedented strike action which shut down London on 8-9 January, we've forced the company to change its position.

Tubeworker feels we could've pushed for more, and we agree with those who argued in the RMT reps' meeting on Friday 3 February for keeping the strikes and OT ban on. We had the momentum, and were piling the pressure on the company. We believe further strikes over 5-8 February could've won more concessions.

There are questions to be asked of the new proposal: is 325 jobs enough? And, although existing CSA2s now have guaranteed promotion, future CSA2s' right to promotion is contingent on a whole number of variables, including being prepared to work anywhere in London. Our unions will need to keep the pressure on the company to make sure they don't try to pull a fast one to avoid promoting any future CSA2s.

Both RMT and TSSA remain in dispute with the company. That means industrial action could be reinstated at any time (with seven days' notice). That's preferable to the situation we had in February 2016, when RMT not only suspended planned strikes against the launch of "Fit for the Future", but settled the entire dispute. Keeping the dispute on means we can name more action if we feel we need to. (Although, to employ a military metaphor, keeping one's powder dry by calling off strikes on the proviso that more strikes might be called later invariably diminishes the supply of powder: we might find it hard to mobilise members to strike, in a few weeks or months time, to improve a proposal that we were all told on 3 February was enough to suspend our strikes for.)

We have a lot to be proud of in this dispute. The concessions we've won are significant and certainly worth celebrating. To claw back around 40% of the 853 jobs LU cut under "Fit for the Future" is no mean feat. On top of this, LU was administratively unable to carry through another 100-odd of the planned cuts, meaning they've only managed to cut around 40% of the jobs they intended to. Although losing a single job is a defeat, we should be proud of how far we have pushed the company back.

The guarantee of automatic promotion for existing CSA2s is a huge win too, meaning a significant bump in pay, terms, and conditions for many workers and guaranteeing dozens more safety-critical staff on stations.

And our 8-9 January strike destroyed the common sense that had developed, on the job and within RMT, that station grades couldn't take effective industrial action on our own. That experience should impact on our consciousness and confidence going forward.

Could we have come away from this dispute with more? Tubeworker believes so. When the dispute was launched, members were told to prepare for a protracted battle, and the 8-9 January strike (which many reps and activists felt should have been longer) was presented as the opening salvo in an ongoing campaign of strikes. Station staff may, therefore, be bemused at being congratulated for a magnificent, solid action in one breath, but being told we're settling for something that falls short of our demands in the next. The strike was indeed solid and magnificent: why, therefore, not maintain that pressure and momentum to push for more concessions?

In terms of the overall situation, we are still in a largely unfavourable position, with ticket offices having been closed, many jobs cut, and new grading system imposed, and many workers displaced.

But all of that would have been much, much worse had we not mounted the fight we have. If we had rolled over and given up, we wouldn't have won a single job back and management would be looking to consolidate the CSA grade downwards, not upwards.

Tubeworker will continue to argue for renewed fights to win better staffing levels; improved working conditions; and more rights and power for us in the workplace, and use our blog and bulletin to discuss the best strategies for doing this. We invite all station staff, and all LU workers, to join us in doing that!

In the meantime, the action we took in this dispute and the concessions we won can make us confident and bold in the fights to come.

An Open Letter To a London Transport User: Why You Should Support the #TubeStrike

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 02/02/2017 - 14:27

Dear London Transport User,

As you probably know by now, we (that is, London Underground station staff) are planning further strikes over 5-8 February. Many news reports focus almost exclusively not on the reasons behind our strikes, but on the impact it will have on you, the people who use the services our labour makes possible.

I'm writing this letter, as an LU station worker and supporter of the strikes, to urge you to resist our employer's, and the media's, attempts to turn you against us, and explain why you should support our strike.

Why are we striking?

We're striking to win an increased staffing level on the Tube.

There are other demands associated with our dispute, but they are all linked to this fundamental, central, issue: job cuts. Over the past 18 months, London Underground has reduced the frontline staffing level by nearly 1,000 posts.

If you regularly use central London stations, you may've noticed that the ticket halls seem busier. There are fewer staff on gatelines, meaning there are fewer people to answer your questions or assist you at ticket machines. If you're a disabled passenger, you might've found yourself waiting for longer for the assistance you need.

If you use outlying stations, you may have found they're frequently unstaffed. If an incident occurs, if you have an enquiry, if there's a problem with your ticket or Oyster card, there's literally no-one there to help.

For you, job cuts means a poorer service and less safe stations. For us, job cuts have meant fewer people doing more work.

As part of its job cuts, London Underground has de-staffed station control rooms at major locations like Canning Town. This has already led to significant safety incidents. Ask yourself if you want to travel on a network where there's no-one monitoring platforms, escalators, and concourses, and where, if an incident occurs, there's only one or two members of staff on duty, possibly in another part of the station entirely, with no way of knowing what's happened.

LU has also restructured the grading system on stations, introducing a new "Customer Service Assistant 2" grade. These members of staff are not safety-critical, meaning they cannot perform the full range of tasks necessary in an evacuation or similar incident. Despite this, they are being counted towards stations' "minimum numbers" (the legally-stipulated minimum staffing level a station needs to remain open). In an evacuation, they could do little more than stand by an exit and point. As a transport user, does that make you feel safe?

These workers are being exploited by London Underground. Despite not being safety-critical, they have been trained to carry out cash-handling duties previously performed by ticket office staff. This means workers paid £23k/year are doing work previously carried out by workers paid £36k/year.

In almost every other industry, workers who handle cash get a salary uplift to reflect the increased responsibility and risk (after all, if there's a discrepancy on the accounts, those workers' jobs are on the line). Only on London Underground are workers who handle cash frequently paid less than those who don't.

This is why we're striking. Our demands are:

  • Reverse all job cuts, increase the staffing level
  • Staff all control rooms
  • Consolidate the CSA grades, training all CSA2s to become fully safety-critical CSA1s
  • London Underground is making these cuts because Transport for London, of which LU is a subsidiary, has had its central government funding slashed. The Tories plan to cut it entirely by 2020, which would make TfL the only metropolitan transport system in the world not to receive central government subsidy. This is part of the Tories' ideological project to under-fund and run down public services, increasing the prospects for privatisation.

    Even within TfL and LU's current budgets, we believe it is possible to meet our demands. Our bosses have chosen to pass on these Tory cuts by looking to cut at the frontline rather than looking for savings elsewhere. However, in the longer term, only a political campaign against the funding cut will secure the money necessary to maintain and improve the Tube. We want Sadiq Khan to join with us in campaigning for the reinstatement of the subsidy, instead of using his position to attack us, his own employees.

    Do you want an under-funded Tube service, with 1,000 fewer staff, with busy, central London stations staffed by non-safety-critical workers and with no-one in their control rooms?

    Think about that situation, and ask yourself whether us winning our dispute and securing our demands will result in a better, safer service for you as a passenger.

    Of course it will! It's in your interests as much as ours that we win this fight.

    What about the inconvenience?

    We know that our strikes have an impact on you, our passengers, as well as our employer's business. None of us relish the inconvenience we cause, but this is an inescapable reality of the nature of the work we do: every day, our labour moves you around London. If we withdraw that labour, London stops moving.

    When any workers take industrial action, some inconvenience is caused to someone, and often to other working-class people. Public sector workers' strikes will negatively impact on the people who use the services we provide, and even private sector workers taking action may lead to a particular product that working-class consumers rely on not being produced or distributed.

    In the past, we have experimented with forms of action that hit the employer in the pocket, but minimise the impact on passengers, such as "revenue strikes". We should explore those tactics again. But our fundamental form of leverage and power is the withdrawal of our labour. The right to withdraw labour is what ultimately distinguishes a worker from a slave. Bluntly, it is not a right any worker should forego because exercising it might inconvenience other people.

    In asking you to support us, we are asking you to rise above the immediate feelings of frustration you might have about having a longer commute to work, or having to stand on a packed bus. We are asking you to look at a bigger picture, both to respect our right to withdraw our labour, and to see how, in the long run, a few days' inconvenience might be a reasonable trade off for the improvements you will benefit from if we win our dispute.

    "You don't see me striking!"

    Part of the reason our strikes attract such extraordinary and exaggerated venom (in an increasingly barbaric world, is "misery" really a proportionate term to use to describe the impact of our strikes?) is because we are an exception to a rule. Strike figures are at the lowest ever levels, and the trade union movement is half the size it was at its peak in 1979. Taking industrial action only seems like a reckless or "selfish" thing to do because so many of us have become acculturated to meekly accepting our lot; to giving up on the idea that we have any power at work; to accepting that the bosses have all the power and that job cuts, wage freezes, and other attacks on our rights at work can perhaps be grumbled about but never stopped or reversed.

    Another aspect of this acculturation is that the relatively better pay, terms, and conditions that workers like ourselves have managed to win and defend become something for other workers to be resentful of, rather than aspire to. They are encouraged in that resentment by the right-wing, bosses' media, desperate to divide worker against worker, and never calling attention to the really obscene differentials - which are not between the levels of pay of different workers, but between workers and our employers, within every industry.

    All of this is embodied in the tragically ironic phrase every Tube worker will have heard a version of at least once: "Things at my work are shit, but you don't see me striking."

    Perhaps you've uttered this phrase yourself, or thought it. But it doesn't have to be like that. You could organise at work too. Yes, not every group of workers has the same industrial leverage as public transport workers, and not every strike will be a success. But there is no group of workers that has no power at all. If you have a boss, then that boss relies on you to make profit. That means you have power. We ask for your solidarity when we exercise ours, but we will also extend it to you in exercising yours.

    What can you do?

    If you support our strikes, you can:

  • Show your support on social media: tweet @RMTLondon and @RMTUnion, using the #TubeStrike hashtag, to say you support us.
  • Share information about why we are striking with your family, friends, and workmates.
  • Visit a picket line to talk to us and express your support directly. A list of picket locations for the upcoming strikes will appear on the RMT London website soon.
  • Email Mayor Khan, at mayor@london.gov.uk, to express your support for our strikes and demand that he supports union demands for increased central government subsidy for TfL.
  • Use TfL's online complaints form to oppose job cuts and express your support for the strikes.
  • Write to your MP to demand that they oppose the cut in central government funding for TfL.
  • All of that will be valuable and appreciated. But the most essential and powerful way to express solidarity is not just to support what we're doing, but to join us in a common struggle. That means organising in your own workplace and fighting for better and safer conditions, and more rights and power for workers.

    If you're not a member of a trade union, you can find out which union covers your sector using the TUC's union finder here. If there is no union organising in your sector, you can join a general union such as Unite or GMB. In some sectors and industries, such as parts of the so-called "gig economy" in companies like Deliveroo and Uber, some workers have organised through non-TUC-affiliated independent unions like the Independent Workers' union of Great Britain (IWGB) and the United Voices of the World (UWV).

    Joining a union and becoming part of the labour movement makes you part of a collective struggle. We look forward to a conversation that's less about the inconvenience we might cause each other, but what support we can provide to help each other win.

    Yours in solidarity,
    A member of London Underground station staff, RMT activist, and Tube striker.

    Threat Of Strikes Forces New Offer From LU: Keep Strikes On To Win More!

    Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 29/01/2017 - 21:57

    RMT has named new strike dates in the station staffing dispute, from 18:00 on 5 February to 10:00 on 6 February, and from 10:00 on 7 February to 00:59 on 8 February.

    In response, LU has made us a new offer. They're proposing to reinstate 325 jobs, re-staff most (but not all) the control rooms they de-staffed, and establish a promotion pathway to CSA1 for existing CSA2s.

    This all requires a bit of unpicking.

    Firstly, let's remind ourselves of the basic lesson here: direct action gets the goods. LU is only making a new offer because of our ongoing overtime ban, our magnificent strike on 8-9 January, and the threat of further action to come.

    We've already pushed the bosses a long way. When this dispute began, they were intransigent, insisting that not a single job cut would be reversed, and that the CSA2 grade was non-negotiable. One month into an overtime ban and suddenly they were offering 250 jobs. A fortnight after our strike, and that number had increased again. Under pressure from the threat of further strikes, suddenly they've started budging on the CSA2 issue as well.

    Let's look at the detail of the offer, though: is 325 jobs enough to address the crisis of under-staffing and lone working? Is anything short of a commitment that all control rooms will be staffed satisfactory? And does the promotion pathway for CSA2s (the wording of which in the text of the offer is profoundly ambiguous) go for enough towards resolving the huge problems created by the creation of a two-tier CSA grade?

    Tubeworker's answers are no, no, and no.

    It is, however, undeniable that this latest offer is a vast leap forward for our bosses, considering their position when we began the dispute. Should we therefore react by saying, "they're meeting us halfway, let's return the favour and call off our strike"? This did indeed seem to be the attitude of TSSA leaders in response to an earlier, worse, offer to resolve the dispute (luckily they were forced to keep their action on thanks to a revolt by workplace reps and activists).

    Whether being met "halfway" would be worth settling for is arguable in itself (Tubeworker would argue not). But this offer doesn't even do that. 325, while a significant improvement on zero, is still fewer than half the jobs axed under "Fit for the Future". We might not end up with everything we want, but why would we let the bosses up off the ropes when we've got all the momentum and it's clear they're vulnerable to pressure?

    If anything, we should increase it. Tubeworker endorses the motion, passed at a recent RMT Bakerloo Line branch meeting, which argues that further strikes should:

  • Be longer than 48 hours
  • Seek to maximise disruption, for example by taking place on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Involve Night Tube staff, with at least one strike day starting or finishing at 23:01 on a Friday
  • Be announced as part of an ongoing programme of action, also involving demos, rallies etc., similar the approach RMT has pursued in the dispute on Southern
  • Coordinate as much as possible with other disputes, including the Central Line Drivers’ dispute and the Southern dispute.
  • We like that RMT is taking a creative approach to the next strikes, calling out particular shifts to maximise disruption in the morning and evening peak but minimising the number of days' pay members will lose. Tubeworker has argued for this creative approach to action for some time and we're glad to see it taken up. If swiftly followed by further action, either additional selective strikes or further all-out strikes, we're confident we can push the employer even closer to conceding our demands.

    The public rally the RMT plans on 1 February is also an excellent initiative that could help situate our industrial dispute in a wider struggle for safe, accessible public transport.

    All in all, Tubeworker reckons we're a long way from having to settle for a compromise deal. Station staff are still up for the fight, so let's keep the strikes on and push for more!

    Mayor Khan, The Scab's Friend

    Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 11/01/2017 - 20:15

    This week saw thousands of London Underground workers striking to fight for more jobs on the tube to improve safety; following tube bosses reckless decision to cut nearly 900 jobs. Meanwhile London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan was calling this fight "completely pointless," peddling dodgy statistics on how much of the service was running and praising scabs who failed to keep the service going.

    Sadiq Khan claims he agrees the Tube needs more jobs. So where are they? He spent the strike day backing scabs when he should have been backing workers fighting for the very thing he says he agrees the Tube needs: more workers.

    Khan paints himself as a man for all Londoners with the slogan "London is open" and his electoral pledge to be the most business friendly mayor London has ever had. But his actions demonstrate he is more interested in maintaining the status quo of a city with poor struggling workers and a few rich fatcats, and of stripping back services and cutting jobs; than any serious effort to improve the lives of working class people in our city.

    As a Labour mayor, why doesn't he join the picket and demand more funding for the Tube from the Tories and a safer network? He’d rather proclaim there is no money and back the scabs instead. But of course there is money. It was the tories decision to cut the subsidies of the Tube to zero which means that workers have to pay more and more to get to work, rather than the boss (who profits) paying via taxes to get their workers there.

    Shadow chancellor john McDonnell proclaimed last year that Labour’s policy was now to back all striking workers. But the Labour leadership largely remained silent whilst we were on the picket lines. Perhaps the left of the part doesn’t want to go head to head with Khan, but one of Khan’s first acts when he became Mayor was to distance himself from Corbyn and the party leadership, so why not act like properly socialists and call out the scabs?

    There was support from the Shadow secretary for Education Angela Rayner who tweeted ‘As I face a 2 mile walk to work I'm reminded of why the #TubeStrike is happening #SafetyFirst’

    When we have a Tory government cutting Tube funding and a Labour mayor attacking workers rather than the Tories, and Corbyn and McDonnell keeping schtum; who do we have to represent us? We have a real opportunity with our current Labour leadership, please don’t let us down now.

    After historic strike, let's maintain momentum!

    Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 10/01/2017 - 13:40

    Yesterday's strike of station and revenue staff was historic. We showed that we have immense power when we stand together. Our strike shut down central London, putting immense pressure on the employer and exposing the depths of their staffing crisis.

    Lively pickets were mounted at stations across London, with TSSA reps and activists joining their RMT colleagues (despite TSSA's last-minute wobble!). With unity in the dispute maintained, the logic points towards one industrial union for all Tube workers.

    Fantastic solidarity was shown by other grades, with many drivers refusing to cross picket lines and many more rightly refusing to drive their trains through unstaffed, or unsafely staffed, stations.

    Support from the public on picket lines was high. With leaflets, social media, and interviews we got our message out: LU must reverse jobs cuts and properly staff stations, not with cut-price CSA2s, but with CSA1s and above, and put in place a plan for consolidating the two CSA grades upwards. If LU claim there's no money available, Mayor Khan must stop his disgraceful union bashing and join our fight to demand increased funding from central government.

    The employer is on the ropes. We have to maintain our momentum. Tubeworker would like to see further action called as soon as possible, escalating the strike beyond 24 hours and experimenting with rolling and selective strikes of different shifts to maximise impact. There is a mandate for this from previous reps' meetings, and while further meetings to plan and strategise are necessary, there is already a clear consensus for further action.

    Yesterday's strike was replete with lessons. On the job (and within RMT, as the only all-grades union on LU), today's strike should decisively kill off the idea, expressed by some in moments of despair and pessimism, that station grades have no power and must be reliant on the leverage of drivers or engineers to win concessions. We should always aspire to all-grades unity, but yesterday we proved that we can strike as station staff and shut the job down. This should embolden and empower us going forward.

    Our strike is also a little window into where power lies, and how we can change society. It's easy to feel small, to feel like a cog in a machine, when you're going through the daily grind of shifts and you're at the whim of the employer. But a day like yesterday reminds us that it doesn't have to be like that. We move London, not our bosses. The power is in our hands. As the old slogan from revolutionary France in 1968 puts it: Le patron a besoin de toi, mais tu n'as pas besoin de lui. To paraphrase the translation: our bosses need us, but we don't need them.

    There's also a lesson for other workers in our action. Although public support has been high, we'll all have experienced (whether on picket lines, on social media, at work in the run up to the strike, or down the pub) some version of the following arguments: our strikes are "selfish"; we're "holding London to ransom"; or, "I have worse job than you and you don't see me going on strike."

    These arguments, which manifest as hostile abuse, are actually expressions of resentment borne of a feeling of powerlessness. In an economy where labour is massively on the defensive against capital, where the labour movement is weak and in retreat, hostility to our strikes from other working-class people expresses resentment that they don't have the same organisation and power at work as we do.

    But they could! Of course, not every job or industry is as integral to the day-to-day functioning of London as public transport, but the key difference between us and other groups of workers is that we have a high level of union membership and that we are prepared to use our unions as tools via which to take action. We should encourage fellow members of our class to see our level of organisation, and our action, not as something to resent but as something to aspire to.

    Every striker should be congratulated for the resolve they showed yesterday. Let's push on and win our dispute!

    Shutdown!

    Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 09/01/2017 - 08:54

    Pickets are in confident mood this morning, as the most effective station staff strike in memory cranks up the pressure on management.

    With hardly any trains running and few Section 12 stations open, management can not remain in denial about how strongly staff of all grades feel about the stripping away of staff from stations. The pressure is now on the company and the Mayor to make good the damage of Fit for the Future - Stations.

    The 'accepted wisdom' that station (and revenue) staff can not fight alone has been blown out of the water. First the overtime ban, and now today, have shown that we are more powerful than the picture often painted of a 'weak' group of grades.

    That said, there has been welcome solidarity from other grades, especially drivers, with significant numbers refusing to cross picket lines and other refusing to drive on safety grounds. As well as showing basic solidarity to their workmates, drivers are acting in their own interests by doing this. Immediately, an incident on the road in today's conditions would be a night mare; in the longer term, the harder a fight we give LUL over FftF-Stations, the more reticent the company will be to plough ahead with Fit for the Future - Trains.

    With driverless trains being designed at built right now, the fight to defend jobs is an all-grades battle. We can have effective grade-specific action, but we can have even more effective cross-grade action.

    RMT and TSSA striking together has kept the action solid. TSSA's wobble over the weekend was put right by its rank-and-file reps and members telling their officials in no uncertain terms that they were going to remain part of the strike. So much for media claims of 'union bosses ordering staff to strike' - at least in TSSA's case, it was the other way round!

    Although we are getting the usual anti-union cliches in the media and the vox pops, we are getting a lot of support too, and the union case is being put over well where it gets the space to do so.

    If we go straight from the picket lines to the naming further strikes, we can push this forward to a win. If we don't - if our unions wait for management to move or appear uncertain about what to do next - then our momentum will wane and we risk snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    There is a lot at stake here - our work-life balance, our safety at work, hundreds of jobs, the service we provide. It deserves the most effective possible campaign.

    "New offer"? Hardly. Support the strikes!

    Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 07/01/2017 - 19:18

    Hastily-convened 11th-hour talks between LU and the unions in the station staffing dispute produced an interesting development today.

    Under the leadership of their General Secretary Manuel Cortes, TSSA suddenly sought private talks with the company, fracturing the unity that had existed thus far.

    Something odd was clearly going on at TSSA HQ; first, at 16.34, the union's official Twitter account tweeted that "last minute" talks had "failed". Then, at 17.20, they were tweeting that LU had "made a new offer".

    TSSA negotiators swiftly recommended to their reps that they suspend their strike in order to consider this.

    What's the content of this "new" offer? It amounts to an offer of 50 additional jobs, taking the total of 150 that was already on the table to 200. Everything else in the "new" offer was either already agreed or already on the table.

    It is, in short, a joke.

    There's also a story circulating, picked up on and recycled by the BBC, that RMT reps "walked out" of talks. This is total nonsense. RMT put their demands, the company refused them. The talks ended. That's not "walking out", it's leaving when something is finished. TSSA then went behind RMT's back to concoct their new deal.

    What happened to strength in unity, comrades?

    Tubeworker is independent of any union, and has supporters, contributors, and readers from all the unions which organise on LU. But we are committed to telling the truth, and to effective, militant trade unionism. We will criticise any union when we feel criticism is deserved. And TSSA's "strategy", if it can be called that, is the opposite of effective and the opposite of militant.

    Word has already reached Tubeworker HQ that many TSSA reps are telling their Regional Organiser, in no uncertain terms, that they do not want the strike suspended and fully support continuing with the action. Tubeworker urges all TSSA reps to do likewise, and urges TSSA members to lobby their reps to this effect.

    There's more to be said about this unedifying episode, including a political examination of the role of the Labour mayor Sadiq Khan, and whether TSSA's status as a "left-wing" union, which supports the Labour left network Momentum, can be meaningful when it proposes calling off strikes in this way.

    But that can wait. The key thing now is to build the action. Tubeworker urges all our readers in stations and revenue grades, whichever union they're members of, to participate in the strike.

    See you on the picket lines!

    When is "500" not "500"? When it's 150.

    Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 06/01/2017 - 19:06

    LU's bulletin issued following the conclusion of Acas talks (see below) is completely misleading. Their headline figure is that they "will recruit 500 new staff into stations this year", but as they admit immediately afterwards, only 150 of these will be additional. 350 of the jobs will be the natural turnover that LU always recruits to cover natural wastage (people retiring or leaving the job, moving jobs, being promoted, etc.).

    So the offer amounts to: 150 additional jobs. That's only a fraction of the 900-odd jobs they cut as part of "Fit for the Future". And a significant proportion of those 150 will be CSA2 positions, who can't perform safety critical tasks but who represent a massive saving for the company as they're paid £7,000 less than CSA1s!

    So in terms of fully safety-trained staff who can perform the full range of tasks required on the station, it's a lot less than 150.

    LU say they'll "double recruitment", but without increasing the establishment - i.e., inserting additional jobs into rosters - the rate of recruitment won't change much.

    They say they've agreed to a "detailed review", but this was agreed to months ago, when "Fit for the Future" was implemented, so is hardly part of a new offer.

    Offering "increased promotional opportunities" is all well and good, but this doesn't address the fundamental issue that there simply aren't enough staff on stations to run things safely.

    If LU want to resolve the dispute, they need to make a serious offer to reinstate hundreds of jobs at CSA1 grade and above, and move towards the consolidation of the CSA2 grade into the CSA1 grade.

    The job cuts made under "Fit for the Future" equated to nearly 20% of the frontline workforce. How can the company justify this? Have our stations become 20% smaller? Are there 20% fewer passengers? 20% fewer trains?

    No. Footfall is increasing. The workload is going up. So why are jobs being cut?

    That's the essence of this strike. Don't fall for LU's spin.

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    Stations, revenue, Central Line west end drivers: see you on the picket lines!

    Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 06/01/2017 - 17:57

    With Acas talks in the station staffing dispute ending without any new offer from the company, the joint RMT/TSSA strike on stations is on for 8-9 January.

    Striking alongside station and revenue staff will be Central Line drivers at White City and West Ruislip depots, who are taking action aimed at winning the reinstatement of their unfairly sacked colleague Dean Storey.

    Withdrawing our labour is the most fundamental and effective weapon we have as workers; let's use it!

    See you on the picket lines! Details of pickets are available on the RMT London website.

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