LT Health & safety

Mindful bosses?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 18/08/2019 - 22:26

TfL has partnered with “mindfulness” app Headspace to give staff a free subscription. Headspace’s guided meditation programmes are meant to help us deal with workplace stress.

It’s a nice gesture, but it rings a little hollow when you consider Occupational Health counselling services have been slashed as part of “Transformation”. Despite frequent articles in Off The Move patting themselves on the back for how enlightened they are about mental health, LU still repeatedly put pressure on workers off sick with stress or other mental health issues to come back before we’re ready, and fails to make adequate adjustments for us when we are at work.

The main drivers of workplace stress are factors for which our bosses are substantially to blame. Cuts and de-staffing means fewer of us are doing more work, with increasingly fatigue-inducing shift patterns. A few sessions with Headspace isn’t going to fix this. Cutting the working week and employing hundreds more staff might help.

We have a grim sense of inevitability that at someone’s case conference in the not-too-distant future, we’ll hear a manager saying “no, I can’t accommodate your request for reduced hours, a seated role, flexible working, or time off work... but have you tried Headspace?”

Rather than trying to mollify us with a free app, why not take real steps to make our workplaces less stressful?

Tubeworker topics

Ditch the tabards!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 25/07/2019 - 11:49

As London faces temperatures of up to 40°, some of our fears about the extreme discomfort caused by having to wear a thick red tabard are being realised.

This entirely unnecessary and uncomfortable addition to the station staff uniform serves no purpose. As we said at the time of its imposition, the issue isn’t staff “visibility”, but staff numbers. Dressing us in red vests can’t mask the fact that LU has cut staff numbers.

We say: ditch the tabards. They’re simply not wearable in these conditions. No supervisor or CSM should be insisting that staff wear them. And if any Area Manager has a problem with that, let them try to discipline an entire shift worth of workers simply for asserting their right to be a little more comfortable while working underground in extreme heat!

Safety over speed

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 18/07/2019 - 13:23

At Farringdon, trains driven in ATO leave the station at 15mph. Trains reach 30mph within station limits. A faster line speed means a more frequent service, which is London Underground's priority.

Drivers are asking for trains to pull in and out of crowded stations like Farringdon at a slower speed to minimise accidents arising from overcrowded platforms.

Safety has to take priority over the frequency of the service.

Fire Brigade warns London Bridge

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 28/05/2019 - 17:24

It has emerged that the London Fire Brigade issued London Bridge station with a notice on 10 April for breaching fire safety regulations.

Ultimately it is management’s job to oversee that our workplaces comply with these vital regulations. How many other corners are they cutting, and where?

Workers need to feel empowered to blow the whistle. If your local management is cutting corners with safety, let a union health and safety rep know immediately.

Tubeworker topics

Fleet workers win train prep fight

Submitted by Tubeworker 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

Submitted by Tubeworker 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.

District and H&C workers resist lone working

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 22/03/2019 - 18:44

Station staff on the District East group, and drivers at Upminster and Barking depots on the District and Hammersmith and City Lines, are planning ballots for industrial action to protest lone working.

A recent spate of antisocial behaviour and violence, including stabbings, in the area sparked workers’ concern. A statement from their union branch, RMT East Ham, said: “In the space of three days, there has been a shooting and two stabbings on trains within our Branch area, and a further knife attack outside one of our stations. In all of these incidents, our members acted with bravery and professionalism, but this should not be a normal part of our jobs. Unfortunately, these types of crimes are becoming more common, putting our members at unacceptable risk.”

The ballot will be for industrial action short of a strike, specifically to refuse to lone work at stations alone or to detrain trains alone.

Lone working is a direct consequence of LU’s cuts to staffing levels over successive years; District Line workers are right to resist it.

Familiar Names in Hong Kong Train Collision

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 19/03/2019 - 15:51

MTR - which has the contract to run Crossrail - has come a-cropper in Hong Kong, as its trial of new signalling systems came off the rails.

Two subway tains collided between Central and Admiralty stations during an early morning test run on Monday before start of traffic. Both drivers were taken to hospital, with one suffering leg injuries.

It looks like the fault was in the software, which is supplied by another name familiar to Tube workers: Thales.

The incident is being seen as damaging to MTR Corp’s reputation, following a series of scandals and a top management reshuffle in the last year. But will this latest cock-up make TfL rethink its policy of contracting-out crticial functions to private companies? Or will our intrepid bosses carry on regardless?

Train prep ballot: Vote Yes!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 06/03/2019 - 13:10

Management's plan to cut the frequency of train preparation from every 24 hours to every 96 hours will be disastrous for jobs, for safety, and for reliability.

Driven solely by penny-pinching, the cut - if it goes ahead - will see trains going into passenger service which have not been check for up to three days. Given the mileage that a train will have covered during that time, and the range of hazards and stresses it faces over that time, the likelihood of a fault is significant. That's why we check them every day, and why it is vital that we keep checking them every day.

Of course, we all know that. And the company probably knows that too. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

Polite representation will not change the company's mind, as money speaks very much louder to our bosses. Even impolite representation won't work - only industrial action will!

RMT is now balloting its Fleet members for action. We have no doubt that a huge majority will support the call for stikes and action short of strikes. But under Tory anti-union laws, a huge majority is not enough. We now have to reach thresholds which in practice are am unreasonably high bar designed to stop us exeercising our democratic right to withdraw our labour.

Until we get these and other anti-union laws repealed, we need to make sure that we reach these thresholds. So make sure you and all your workmates vote in teh ballot! The days of "It doesnt matter, there will be a Yes vote with or without my vote" are over. A Yes vote is now not enough. Turnout is also crucial.

Tabards launched...

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 10/02/2019 - 20:07

LU's risible red tabards have been officially launched, but if the response at many stations is anything to go by, the launch is something of a damp squib.

Staff in numerous locations are simply not wearing the tabards, with CSSs and CSMs believing, rightly, that their job is to run the station, not enforce LU's daft cosmetic exercise. So far management aren't cracking the whip, with refuseniks being asked to write memos, but nothing more. That could change, however, and Tubeworker reiterates our view that individuals refusing in ones and twos might not be wise, but collective refusal-to-wear by everyone, or at least a significant proportion of people, on a particular shift should be organised wherever possible. As we're not an official union publication, or linked to any union, we can say that without risk of legal reprisal.

RMT is not instructing or advising members to refuse to wear the tabards. However, an RMT ballot for official action-short-of-strikes to refuse to wear the tabards is on its way, and in the meantime, the union has committed to defend any member facing discipline for refusing to wear one, or refusing the enforcing their wearing. Does LU really want to pick a fight with its own frontline staff over a bit of fabric?

Some might argue that it's not worth the union scrapping over either, but the fact is, the tabards are a slap in the face to a stations workforce who've seen frontline staffing levels cut and cut again over the years, only to be told by the bosses who made the cuts that the problem isn't numbers but simply that we're not wearing bright enough clothing! Resisting the tabards isn't the biggest battle we'll ever fight but it is about having some basic self-respect and not allowing LU's hypocrisy to go without protest and challenge.

To add a further element of farce to the whole affair, there's an official LU health and safety document doing the rounds which says the tabards aren't compulsory after all. That's contradicted by other documentation saying they are, but at the very least it shows LU doesn't really know what it's doing.

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