The trial of a four-day week on the Jubilee Line could begin soon. The trial will see drivers working the same weekly hours but over four days rather than five. That means longer shifts of up to 10 hours when a meal break is included. And not just longer shifts, but longer "handle time." Maximum driving time without a break will go up significantly.
Many drivers and reps and activists elsewhere are concerned that the trial will demonstrate that we can work longer shifts than current agreements allow which bosses will gleefully recognise; but that they will conclude that the bit that benefits us -a four-day week - will be is unworkable.
We’ve seen what the bosses did to station staff frameworks; why would we trust them with train drivers frameworks? The union’s ability to claim that frameworks are necessary for safety reasons would be seriously diminished should we allow them to be broken in this way, which would mean the ‘voluntary’ nature of the trial could have a detrimental effect on all drivers in the future.
The RMT union has called a second referendum of drivers on the line as more details of duties emerges. This democratic move gives drivers the chance to have their say now that they have more information and have seen draft rosters. Drivers voting in this referendum should consider what it is that tube bosses want - more productivity and more flexibility from us. They aren’t offering this trial because they have a desire to reduce our working week. Aslef should also hold a referendum and allow members voices to be heard.
A shorter working week is a positive thing which unions have been fighting for continuously, but we shouldn't be reckless in how we try to achieve it. The only guarantee of this trial is that it will demonstrate we are willing to bust our own hard won frameworks.