Tube fat cats

New brass

Published on: Mon, 29/07/2019 - 18:45

LU will have a new Managing Director from November 2019, as Andy Lord joins the company.

His previous role was as Executive Vice President of Menzies Aviation, a logistics firm serving the aviation sector. Prior to that, he worked at British Airways for 25, and he’s also a Non-Executive Director for Defence Equipment and Support, which is a trading entity set up by the Ministry of Defence to handle the procurement and transpiration of military vehicles such as fighter jets, battleships, and submarines.

Plenty of experience working on public railways, then.

Yet another hire from the commercial aviation sector tells us a lot about LU’s strategic vision. Our bosses want to further entrench a profit-driven, corporate culture on the Tube. The idea of the Tube as a public service, where the needs of the passengers we serve and the staff who serve them come first, rather than profit margins and budgets, is alien to these people.

On a certain level, Tubeworker isn’t overly concerned by who occupies senior management positions. Whichever individual is in post, their role will be to ensure our labour power is exploited as effectively as possible in order to deliver the service at minimum cost. Exactly who sits at the MD’s desk in a comfortable air conditioned office in Palestra is of very little material relevance to a CSA doing SATS duties on a roasting hot platform, or to an outsourced ABM cleaner working for £10.55 per hour in a dust-ridden station.

We won’t waste our time demanding that LU hire better or nicer bosses; we want our unions to fight for an entirely different way of running the Tube, based on elected committees of workers’ and passengers’ representatives to ensure London Underground is democratically and accountably run in a way that puts workers’ and passengers’ needs first.

But the cultures imposed at the very top do invariably trickle down, so they’re worth paying some attention to. The fact that LU is looking to the commercial and private sectors for their managerial staff is revealing. We also hope Mr. Lord didn’t learn too much from his former BA colleague Willie Walsh, the former CEO, who is a notorious union buster. British Airways workers struck against policies imposed by Willie Walsh; a response we should not hesitate to replicate should Mr. Lord emulate Walsh’s example on LU.

Mr. Lord will be handsomely rewarded for his efforts at LU, with a basic salary of £285,000 per year. That’s the equivalent of about 10 CSA1s or 14 ABM cleaners. We leave it to readers’ judgement as to whether paying one person this much money is a sensible use of resources.

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Labour rank-and-file challenge Tory cuts and Sadiq Khan's failures

Published on: Sun, 06/01/2019 - 21:00

London Labour Party members are set to debate a resolution condemning both the Tory government's cut to TfL funding and Sadiq Khan's decision to implement rather than fight the cuts. The resolution, which has already been passed by one branch, is copied here.


This conference condemns the savage cuts in funding to Transport for London by the Conservative government, which expects London Underground to be the only major metro system in the world to run without public subsidy.

This conference notes:
1. Transport for London’s plans to cut bus routes and London Overground ticket offices, adversely affecting working-class areas and access to public transport for poor and disabled people
2. that cleaners on London Underground and elsewhere on TfL are employed by contractors and agencies at very low rates of pay, with minimal rights to sick pay and leave
3. that TfL has awarded its top bosses pay rises of up to 74%

This conference would expect such policies from a Conservative Mayor and GLA, and is seriously disappointed to see them implemented by a Labour administration.

This conference further notes that Labour party members will be campaigning for Labour’s candidate for Mayor this year, and wish to do so on the basis of progressive, socialist policies rather than having to defend indefensible policies such as those listed above.

This conference calls on Labour’s Mayor and GLA members to:
1. launch a major campaign against the funding cut rather than implementing it with minimal protest
2. abandon its plans to cut bus routes and close ticket offices
3. boost the pay of its workers, especially the lowest-paid, rather than its highest-paid managers
4. bring contracted-out services such as cleaning, catering and maintenance functions into direct TfL ownership and control

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74% all round?

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2018 - 01:18

It’s been revealed that senior stations boss Brian Woodhead received a 74% salary bump this year, taking his pay to nearly £300k.

While we don’t doubt for a second that Brian is worth every penny of that (after all... if he didn’t come to work, stations wouldn’t open and trains wouldn’t run... right?), but surely lower paid frontline staff deserve the same? 74% increase all round, anyone?

Despite their claims of poverty, there’s clearly still money for some things at LU.

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Union busting on Yammer?

Published on: Sun, 25/03/2018 - 21:20

LU bosses tell us that corporate social media platform Yammer is a great way to have a conversation about what's going on at work. Senior managers like MD Mark Wild like to drop by to give the impression they're listening to what their workers think.

But it seems the conversation is rather one-sided: a Yammer user was recently censored for posting an RMT leaflet, which was summarily deleted.

So the bosses can pump out as much of their spin as they want, but union literature is taken down? Yammer isn't a platform for a conversation, it's a platform for the bosses to give the company line and make it look like they're listening to us.

No amount of well-worded posts on Yammer will force real changes from them; to do that, we need to use our real power - organisation in the workplace and industrial action.

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Farewell, Steve

Published on: Thu, 30/03/2017 - 11:45

LU Managing Director Mark Wild informed staff in an Employee Bulletin this morning that Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths would be stepping down.

Tubeworker is pleased to publish this poem we've been sent, written to mark the occasion by E. J. Thribb, an Operational Apprentice aged 17½.

So. Farewell then,
Steve Griffiths
Whose departure as LU Chief Operating Officer was announced today.

We'll surely miss
The private-sector sensibility you brought
From your previous role at Virgin Atlantic.

We're sorry you're leaving
Having recently had to suffer the ignominy
Of a total shutdown on stations
Which forced you and your managerial colleagues
Into several embarrassing climbdowns.

And who can forget
The time when, during a dispute over job cuts,
You took to the media
To decry the idea that a union might demand
The hiring of "even more staff".

That continues to be our aim
Although in your case
Our readers will understand if we don't lament
There being one member of staff fewer.

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The Inequality at the Heart of LU

Published on: Wed, 08/06/2016 - 18:24

Our long-awaited back pay has finally been paid, giving our June pay packets a bit of a boost.

We all know we're relatively well paid compared to a lot of other workers, but we also need to keep that in perspective. If you work on stations, it's likely that you're now being paid at least £6,000 less than you should be for the job you're doing, as LU has forced us all into unpaid promotions that have seen us take on the work previously done by the grade above us.

And let's remember that we still work for a company characterised by grotesque wage inequality. The gap between the pay of frontline, entry-level staff (CSA2s, on £23k, or an outsourced cleaner on less than £10/hour) and that of senior managers has been steadily growing for some time. Is this fair? As Tubeworker often notes, if some "consultant" from 55 Broadway didn't turn up for work, who'd even notice? But if we don't turn up, stations don't open, or don't get cleaned, trains don't run, signals don't operate, repairs don't get done, etc. etc.

There was a particularly cartoonish illustration of the inequality at the heart of LU recently when top bosses treated themselves to a celebratory black-tie dinner in the Royal Air Force Club in Mayfair.

And what, precisely, were they "celebrating"? The successful implementation of "Fit for the Future: Stations". And for whom, precisely, has it been a success? Not for us, the frontline staff facing cuts, mass displacement, and forced regrading. Not for the passengers, facing a poorly-staffed service with no ticket offices. Ah yes... for the bosses themselves, insulated from the effects of their own cuts by their position of power and privilege.

As the old French revolutionary slogan puts it, "les patrons ont besoin de nous, mais on n'a pas besoin des patrons": the bosses need us, but we don't need them!

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New Underground MD Coming from Down Under

Published on: Mon, 25/04/2016 - 15:36

Has there been a new Tube extension built to Australia? Maybe that’s where all the PPP cash went; anyway, we have a new managing Director on his (it’s always his) way from Australia. Mark Wild is leaving his current role as Special Advisor to the Minister and Secretary of The State Government of Victoria to take up the top job at LU.

The company has always argued that its massively inflated senior management salaries are necessary to ensure it can recruit the best bosses. If that's the case, shouldn't there be a suitable candidate from within the existing management ranks? It doesn't reflect particularly well on LU's existing managerial personnel that none of them were considered worthy of the job, causing the company to look to the other side of the world for a candidate!

Tubeworker will be getting on the phone to our comrades in Australian transport unions and asking them for some frontline stories from Mr. Wild's time as head of Melbourne's transport system. If, as we suspect, transport bosses all round the world are cut from pretty much the same cloth, we don't expect them to make for happy reading...

Edited to add:

A reader sent us this link. It confirms our fears!

"The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has also lobbied the government to sack Mr Wild. In June, state secretary Luba Grigorovitch called on Mr Wild to justify his part in Public Transport Victoria's decision to allow Metro Trains to create a labour hire subsidiary company, Sunstone, and award it work without going to tender."

Looks like we'll have some battles with Mr. Wild ahead...

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Pay talks begin: whose belts should tighten?

Published on: Tue, 10/02/2015 - 19:17

No sooner had the preliminary discussions on a new pay deal for LU staff begun than the Chief Operating Officer got his tiny violin out and started tugging at our heartstrings about how terribly hard up the company is.

"We face a difficult financial climate ... Further pressure on our finances is inevitable ... Organisations in both the private and public sectors have seen severe pay restraint or pay freezes..."

In other words: don't get your hopes up, guys and girls. We might find you some crumbs from the table, but that'll be about your lot.

Well, sorry, but that's not good enough. And here at Tubeworker, we're simply not buying the idea that there's no money around. We've reported a number of LU and TfL expenses outrages recently, including...

  • The £134 million the company is spending to roll out its ticket office closure programme
  • Top bosses' "business lunches", costing £450 a pop
  • The £4.2 million the company paid to an external training company to deliver a company propaganda rally (sorry, "training programme") to equip us for the new, de-staffed, ticket-office-free world
  • And let's not forget the basic fact that LU and TfL managers (who seem to be constantly multiplying: we've now got nearly 100 "Area Managers", notionally "looking after" one or two stations each, "earning" around £70,000) are paid huge salaries. Capping managers' salaries at £100,000 (does anyone really need to earn more than £100,000?!) would save £15 million a year. But when the RMT proposed that cutting top bosses' pay might be a fairer way to make savings than closing ticket offices and slashing jobs, the company said TfL bosses didn't earn enough! (see here for more). TfL Commissioner Peter Hendy is paid four times more than the Prime Minister (not that he's "worth" his money, of course), but our employers still think that's not enough.

    Our fat cat bosses are raking it in. And what are they being paid for, exactly? To write bulletins warning us, the people who actually run the railway, of "severe pay restrain or pay freezes".

    Thanks, but no thanks. It's been take, take, take from the company for too long. It's time we took something back. This pay campaign is our chance to take a stand against austerity and profiteering fat cats who see public services as a cash-cow to be chopped up and outsourced. London Underground workers are generally paid better than workers in many other industries and workplaces because we've stood our ground and fought for decent pay and conditions. Let's stand our ground again, and set an example to workers elsewhere.

    Over the coming weeks, Tubeworker will feature further discussion on the pay campaign, including a range of views on the unions' claims and what exactly we should be fighting for. For info, the RMT's claim can be viewed online here.

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    A Lunch Fit for a Fat Cat

    Published on: Wed, 14/01/2015 - 11:42

    The latest expenses from TfL show an expense from Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy of £450 for a "working lunch".

    Tubeworker isn’t suggesting the expense is improper; although we reckon we spend, at most, £5 a day on lunch or dinner whilst at work, so £450 would buy us meals for three months. And our meal break is unpaid, despite needing to eat to have the energy to get through the day and sell our labour back to the boss.

    LUL plans to cut hundreds of jobs, and all ticket offices are being shut, to save cash. This is at the expense of passengers who need them most such as the elderly and disabled people. At a time when LUL claims it so desperately needs to cut costs that it will reduce services in this way, why spend so much for a "working lunch"? It seems inappropriate and unfair to those of us losing our jobs or losing out as "Fit for the Future" is implemented, and it demonstrates the lie that there isn't money available.

    There is money, it seems, but it is money for bosses' working lunches, not workers' jobs.


    Submitted by Sealy75 on Wed, 14/01/2015 - 19:13

    i suppose it is ok. If there were 100 people at the lunch !!!!!!

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    Merry Brownmas

    Published on: Mon, 08/12/2014 - 21:47

    So, the company is skint, right? So skint it has to make savings in the form of closing every ticket office and cutting nearly 1,000 jobs, right?

    Right, but apparently not too skint to send each of us, personally, a Christmas card from top boss Mike Brown.

    Tubeworker thinks the money might be better spent elsewhere. Of course, in the new-think propaganda world of LU senior managers this is a lovely gesture; Christmas card in one hand, P45 in the other.

    Thanks, but no thanks. We are not deceived by this move into believing that management actually cares about us or the jobs that we do.

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