Casualisation and de-staffing

Fighting for direct employment on the track

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 00:23

The scourge of outsourcing on London Underground is not limited to cleaning and catering. Protection and possession work is also substantially outsourced, with companies like Cleshar and Morsons providing agency workers to work as possession masters during engineering jobs on the track.

Sub-sub-contracting is also rife, with many workers technically classed as "self-employed" rather than even employees of the agency. At the end of last year, RMT held referenda amongst some groups of "self-employed" members, which returned substantial majorities for taking industrial action to win better conditions and direct employment. LU bosses now seem intent on imposing a new contract arrangement where they deal with a single labour supply agency, who then provides sub-contracted "self-employed" workers who would only be paid per job. As well as being flagrantly exploitative and unjust, this entire arrangement is of dubious legality, and several high-profile court cases, including one against Pimlico Plumbers, have established legal precedents that make clear bosses cannot treat workers as "self-employed contractors" when they are clearly working on the same basis as a salaried employee.

RMT plans to renew its campaign, demanding secure, direct employment for all protection and possession workers. If you work for London Underground, you should be employed by London Underground, on LU terms and conditions. Simple.

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Time for a ballot on Interserve

Published on: Sat, 23/11/2019 - 16:25

We’ve previously reported on the struggles faced by outsourced security workers in depots, sidings, and office buildings, employed by Interserve, and their efforts to fight back.

A number of them began getting organised through RMT, with the Piccadilly and District West branch taking a particular lead. Plans were laid for a dispute and ballot against cuts planned by Interserve, which would have seen many workers lose hours and pay. Things stalled at RMT head office, but local reps in the branch are pushing to get things back on track.

Our unions must empower the struggles of all members. Time for a ballot on Interserve!

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“20 additional colleagues”?

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 16:11

An LU Employee Bulletin announces that, to combat workplace violence and antisocial behaviour on the east end of the District Line, LU will be providing “20 additional colleagues”.

Good news, you might think. An acknowledgement that lone working and understaffing are the fundamental problems. But alas, the reality is not so encouraging.

These “colleagues” aren’t additional LU station staff, but staff drafted in from TfL’s Surface Transport department – workers who deal with taxi enforcement and revenue issues on buses. They are not trained or licensed to work on LU stations. They have no ability to intervene in any safety or security issue that takes place on the station.

LU aren’t even putting a sticking plaster on a gaping wound… they’re rubbing salt in it.

They’re also putting the Surface Transport workers, who are fellow transport workers and trade unionists, in an extremely difficult position by using them in this way. They shouldn’t have to be drafted in to be spare bodies when what’s so clearly needed is additional LU staff.

LU’s woefully inadequate response to issues of antisocial behaviour and workplace violence on District East, at West Ham, and elsewhere, show that the bosses are more committed to their agenda of penny-pinching budgetary savings than to the safety and wellbeing of workers.

It’s time for action. We need strikes to win a safe staffing level.

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Vote for strikes to stop “Transformation” cuts

Published on: Thu, 20/06/2019 - 13:14

As TfL/LU push ahead with cuts planned under its “Transformation” process, RMT is balloting affected members for strikes and other industrial action. Workers affected include all ex-Tube Lines members, Palestra House (LUCC) Service Control, Signals, Skills Development, and Track Access Control.

The “Transformation” scheme, which has already claimed dozens of jobs in admin grades, threatens potentially thousands more. A planned three-day strike by fleet workers recently forced LU to back off from plans to extend train preparation schedules; strikes across affected grades could throw a spanner in the works of “Transformation”.

RMT must also plan to spread the dispute to other grades if initial action by the affected workers doesn’t get results.

The ballot opens on 26 June, and close on 16 July. Resist the cuts: vote yes/yes!

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More Stations Fight Short-Staffing

Published on: Thu, 10/01/2019 - 10:23

Station staff on the Northern and District lines are set to follow in the footsteps of Bakerloo South and ballot for strikes for better staff coverage.

In the stations around Earl's Court and Hendon Central, duties are regularly left uncovered and staff left to run stations alone. Lone working is dangerous and stressful, and staff have had enough. On both these groups, union members are asking RMT to call industrial action to force management to fill vacancies and cover duties.

Tubeworker knows that this problem is rampant across our stations. So how about we fight back across the job. Together we are stronger.

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Underneath the Sta(i)rs

Published on: Fri, 21/12/2018 - 18:43

In what appears to be a personal contract across multiple cover groups, Mariah Carey is the newest member of station staff at Waterloo, Stratford and London Bridge. Although Tubeworker hasn't spotted her on the gateline.

Perhaps the Mayor can ask for some of her reported $520m (Earning only slightly less than a Train Op, h/t the Evening Standard) to plug the central government funding gap. Sister Carey has taken over the safety announcements, reminding people to stand behind the yellow line and to hold on to the handrail...Oh and she gets to plug her new album too.

At this time it's not clear how much she has been paid but no doubt, against all odds an intrepid FOI request from a respectable journalist will get to the bottom of it. Tubeworker just asks that she don't forget about us if she goes back to her potentially less lucrative career.

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Staff the stations, cover the duties!

Published on: Sun, 23/09/2018 - 12:44

LU's practise of not covering "non-critical" duties continues, meaning many stations are often short staffed. On some outlying areas, such as the north end of the Bakerloo Line, many stations are left entirely unstaffed.

The situation makes a mockery of LU's own documents and protocols. The company produces a "Business Needs Schematic" (BNS) for every station, stipulating the level at which the company itself says the station must be staffed. Apparently the BNS can now be disregarded.

At least one RMT branch, on the Bakerloo Line, has called for a dispute on these issues. That's the right attitude; perhaps industrial action will focus LU's mind.

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Stand firm to knock back "flash and dash"

Published on: Fri, 21/09/2018 - 16:41

The stage is set for a solid dispute to defend detrainment staff on the Waterloo & City Line.

With RMT’s action mandate now live, Aslef naming a strike on the Central Line (Waterloo & City drivers are supplied by Leytonstone depot) on 5 October, and RMT planning to ballot station staff at Waterloo as part of the same dispute, the pressure is mounting on management to back off from their plans to force drivers to take their trains into sidings without them having been physically checked.

The introduction of this process, known as “flash and dash”, was pushed back on the Bakerloo Line a few years ago by solid action. We can do the same on the Waterloo & City.

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We don't always need assistance

Published on: Sat, 31/03/2018 - 04:35

BTP seem to think they can step in to "help" during any conversation with a customer where there might have been a disagreement or where you've had to repeat something.

You've just told someone to top-up, maybe you don't think they should travel till they've sobered up or they are absent mindedly tapping their card on a 'No Entry' gate.

We deal with customers like this everyday, sometimes they get a bit annoyed when you intervene but most of the time we've handled the situation and we can move on.

Step forward the BTP who when they like to hang around (not if we did need them) listened in to your chat and decide to repeat what you've said, more aggressively, invade the customer's space and ask such helpful questions as "are you stupid?" or " are you too drunk to understand what you've been told?"

What has this achieved other than to get customers back up further or make a situation you have sorted out worse. Perhaps they get to feel like a big man, and it's always the men who do it!

Most of us want to help customers not treat them like they're scum. We need less of the BTP hanging around and more customer service staff!

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No cuts to Wembley Central event staff!

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 14:00

Wembley Park, the main station serving Wembley Stadium, currently has additional support from the Special Requirements Team for match days and events. Wembley Central, not quite as close to the stadium but also used to access it, has less SRT support but has its own additional event staff complement rostered on for match/event days.

The local manager wants to reduce event staffing levels at Wembley Central, possibly from 10 to 6. Local union reps are opposing this reduction. Any cuts to event staffing levels will make both staff and passengers less safe, and with Wembley due to see an increase in traffic as Chelsea relocate there next year while Stamford Bridge is refurbished, there's no possible justification for the cut. It's penny-pinching, pure and simple.

If management don't see sense and agree to maintain the event staffing level, unions should explore the prospects for a local dispute. We cannot allow the company to place staff and passengers in danger for the sake of saving a few quid.

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