Tubeworker's blog

Fight for Boxing Day equality

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 08/04/2020 - 12:59

LU has agreed improved Boxing Day pay arrangements for drivers, who’ll now receive quadruple pay for volunteering to work on 26 December.

We’ve reported on this issue previously, arguing that any improved arrangements should apply to all staff.

Many frontline Tube workers, including station staff, cleaners, and many engineering and maintenance staff, don’t get a choice about working Boxing Day. It’s just part of our regular rosters. Why shouldn’t we be entitled to a bonus too?

Distancing on stations

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 06/04/2020 - 09:12
Tube platform

When it comes to social distancing in the workplace, there’s a lot of good practise on LU stations right now. Whether due to local management actually having some common sense, or frontline staff simply taking action and implementing distancing measures, we’ve seen such actions taken as:

• The use of tensa barriers and tape to mark our distancing zones around gatelines and POMs
• Staff rotation and redeployment around the station to ensure maximum distancing
• Repurposing of rooms around the station so staff don’t have to crowd into small mess rooms

Reinstate Racquel Dwyer!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 02/04/2020 - 11:59

Cleaning contractor ABM has sacked RMT rep Racquel Dwyer.

Racquel recently won an Employment Tribunal claim against ABM, and, in her capacity as a rep, has consistently raised concerns about PPE and other safety issues in the workplace, over a number of months. ABM announced a restructure process that has all the hallmarks of being contrived specifically to target Racquel's job, and have made her redundant. The bosses appear to have sought revenge against a worker and union rep who has been a thorn in their side.

Engineering Management Put Workers At Risk

Submitted by Tubeworker 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'.

Practising social distancing

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 21:42

It looks like some local management is starting to take the issue of social distancing seriously.

At Stockwell all CSAs are off the gateline and social distancing between the mess and control rooms. The WAGs are open, the POMs are being left. No one should need to be coughed on while they help someone top up their oyster.

Now the unions have agreed minimum numbers with management every station should now do the same and station staff should not allow any pressure to do otherwise.

We'll keep the service open — but on our terms.

Fight for workers' control of shift allocation

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 15:56

With a massively reduced service in place, many workers are asking whether the company's instruction for all staff who are not self-isolating or off sick to report for duty as normal really makes sense. Having more staff than necessary on a station or at a depot makes distancing harder. It puts drivers, station staff, and engineers are greater risk than office staff, who are largely able to work from home.

Station staff: take action to ensure safe distancing!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 25/03/2020 - 14:01

We're hearing some reports of local managers insisting that all CSAs continue to work on the gateline, despite the difficulties that presents for ensuring social distancing.

If this doesn't stop, we urge station staff to take matters into their own hands. Work out a rotation between you, and practise safe social distancing by removing to other parts of the station, to the control room, or mess rooms - wherever you can maintain safe distancing from other staff and passengers.


Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 23/03/2020 - 09:46

Most offices have been more or less shut down with staff asked to work from home. This is putting strain on the remote access network which has been temperamental at best. Things are a bit less clear for staff who don’t have their own laptop or PC at home - as most people access via their personal device. We should demand the company provide laptops for those who need them.

There are also rumours that TfL visitor centre staff have been told to work on stations, work for which they are not adequately trained or paid. Don’t do it!

Fight rogue managers

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 21/03/2020 - 17:57

Word reaches Tubeworker HQ of rogue managers throwing their weight around.

Staff who are self-isolating have had messages from managers telling them they “don’t meet the criteria”, and pressuring them to come back to work. It's another example of the trend we're all very familiar with... managers deciding they're medical experts.

These managers need to back off. All workers must be able to follow public health advice in full.

Safe staffing during closures

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 21/03/2020 - 17:53

We’ve heard stories of AMs trying to babysit closed Section 12 stations with CSAs, or remove staff from them entirely. Swift intervention by local and Tier 2 reps ensured a plan to babysit Bakerloo Line stations with CSAs was quashed.

If trains are running, even closed stations need properly-licensed staff (i.e., CSS or above). They're needed to deal with any incidents, and book on contractors. This must be non-negotiable.

Keep your distance

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 21/03/2020 - 16:35

While operational training is still going ahead, it’s unclear how the company plans to maintain social distancing on the front of a train cab. Instructors on a number of lines are already refusing to take anyone else in their cab at the current time. Tubeworker thinks they are right to refuse. The unions are meeting bosses on Monday to put this to them. But whatever the company wants Tubeworker thinks instructors should just refuse any cab rides or support for trainees in the cab environment. If that means sending trainees home on full pay then the company should do it.

LU pay/conditions: don't give up on our demands!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 21/03/2020 - 00:20

Aslef drivers, whose ballot returned on 12 March, voted by 95% on a 74% turnout for action over LU pay and conditions. RMT’s ballot is still ongoing, due to close on 31 March.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the context, but we should not abandon our struggle over pay and conditions by accepting one of LU’s existing offers.

A pandemic does not make our demands for improved pay and conditions, especially improved work/life balance, any less pressing. In many ways, it makes them more pressing.

Steps Into Support?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 20/03/2020 - 09:08

Steps Into Work students have been told that the scheme is now on hold until September, due to the Covid-19 crisis.

While this may be sensible in the circumstances, there are consequences which do not yet seem to have been addressed. Steps Into Work students are autistic and/or learning-disabled, and many rely greatly on a stable routine. The disruption to their routine may cause great distress to them and difficulty for their families.

The suspension may also delay opportunities to take up jobs and earn a wage (SiW is unpaid).

Cleaners win full sick pay if they self-isolate

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 17/03/2020 - 16:59
ABM email

ABM have written to cleaners informing them that, following an agreement with TfL, any cleaner who self-isolates during the Covid-19 crisis will be paid at their full shift rate. Previously, cleaners were only being paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), less than £100 per week.

This is a major concession, and one that would not have been secured without union pressure - specifically from the RMT, the only union on the job to organise cleaners and other outsourced workers.

Covid-19: our emergency plan

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 15/03/2020 - 15:46

With the government coming under increasing criticism for its slapdash approach to the Covid-19 outbreak, our safety depends on us putting forward our own emergency plan to protect our and our passengers' health. As the situation develops, necessary measures may change, but right now, we demand that our employers (and our ultimate employer, the Mayor of London), do the demands described without delay.

Covid-19 and us

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 12/03/2020 - 13:52

In the midst of what is now officially a pandemic, it's unsurprising that Covid-19 and its impacts are dominating discussion on the job.

LU has agreed that anyone self-isolating with no symptoms will be categorised as on special leave, rather than off sick. Anecdotally, local managers seem to be recording people who are self-isolating with symptoms as unavailable, or on special leave, rather than "off sick" too. That's positive, as a categorisation of "sick" could lead to people being penalised.

Aslef pay ballot smashes thresholds

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 12/03/2020 - 13:46

Aslef members have voted by a 95.2% majority for strikes to win an improved settlement on pay and conditions, on a 74.5% turnout. These figures smash the arbitrary thresholds of the Tories' anti-union laws.

The RMT's ballot runs until 31 March. Unions should liaise, now, about the best timing for potential action. That will mean Aslef waiting until the RMT's ballot is returned before naming action, but that's a delay worth enduring if it means coordination action across all grades and functions.

Victoria Service Control strike!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 06/03/2020 - 16:57

Following a 100% vote for strikes to oppose an intolerable culture of overbearing management, service controllers on the Victoria Line will strike on 20 and 27 March. This dispute simply won't be resolved without a fundamental change in management culture.

With numerous workplace issues causing dissent at the Hammersmith Control Centre, as we reported here, there's potential for a wider dispute across LU Service Control.

Coronavirus sick pay scandal

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 21:53

As concern understandably grows across the job about the coronavirus, ABM cleaners are in an especially difficult situation. They work in some of the dirtiest, least hygienic conditions across LU, but the scandalous refusal of ABM to pay them company sick pay means they simply can't afford to be ill.

No cutting corners on familiarisation!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 16:32

Station familiarisations, a legally-required procedure that everyone working on a station must undertake and which must be carried out by a resident CSS or CSM, are extremely important. CSAs on the Special Requirements Team (SRT) work across multiple stations, and are on average familiarised at 15-20 stations every six months so they can effectively respond and work at those stations.

Station staff face assaults

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 14:47

Antisocial behaviour and violence towards station staff is spiking on the Piccadilly East cover group. Local reps are pressing managers through the local machinery to ensure members are supported and action is taken.

Combine wide, LU will undoubtedly point to their much vaunted “workplace violence strategy” as evidence that they’re dealing with issues like this, but remember that this “strategy” involves bringing around 150 lower-paid TfL workers onto LU stations, to do work that should be covered by LU RCIs.

Give and take?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 14:46

A new roster is due at Oxford Circus on 29 March, due to the creation of an additional CSA position. That new job is the result of a long fight by unions locally to increase the staffing level; RMT members on Bakerloo South called strikes over the issue in December 2018 and January 2019, which were subsequently suspended when management promised a staffing review.

The new job is an outcome of that review – short of what union reps demanded, but a small step forward nonetheless.

TfL TSEOs should be LU RCIs

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 14:45

As Unite members working in various TfL departments (Dial-a-Ride, bus revenue inspectors, streets enforcement workers, and others) gear up for another strike over pay on 28 February, TfL is now recruiting for a new grade of “Transport Support and Enforcement Officer” (TSEO), paid £27k per year, who’ll work “pan-modally”, across streets, buses, and LU.

Some of the material for this job suggests part of their role will be to provide a “physical intervention” against fare evasion and antisocial behaviour. They may even have devolved policing powers.

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