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

Published 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.

Organising strikes in the current context would not be viable or effective, but acknowledging that doesn’t mean that we have to give up our demands and accept one of LU’s existing, and entirely inadequate, offers.

RMT members must continue to cast their votes in the pay ballot, and the union should continue to communicate its demands to LU. As the crisis shows again how vital our labour is to the day-to-day functioning of London, we should not apologise for demanding improved working conditions.

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Aslef pay ballot smashes thresholds

Published 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.

RMT reps and activists are hard at work getting the vote out. Tubeworker urges all RMT members to vote yes!

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RCIs vote for action

Published on: Sat, 22/02/2020 - 17:46

Revenue Control Inspectors in RMT have voted to take industrial action to resist the imposition of a two-tier workforce in the revenue department. There was a 100% vote for action short of a strike, and a 92% vote for strikes, on a 75% turnout.

RCI reps will now meet to discuss exactly what action to take and when. One possibility could be a joint strike alongside Unite members working in the revenue department at TfL, who are striking on the last Friday of every month until April.

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Shutdown on the Bakerloo: workers have the power!

Published on: Fri, 21/02/2020 - 16:32

It's been a solid day of industrial action so far on the Bakerloo, as drivers strike to win a workable timetable. RMT organised lively pickets at Queen's Park and Elephant and Castle, with an impromptu joint strike rally being held at the latter location when striking university workers from the London College of Communication across the road, along with their student supporters, joined striking LU workers.

As the tweet from the official Bakerloo Line account showed... "no service on the entire line, due to strike action", confirming the words of the old labour movement hymn 'Solidarity Forever' that "without our brain and muscle, not a single wheel can turn."

The strike continues through to midday tomorrow (Saturday), before resuming at 11:59 on Sunday through to 11:59 on Monday.

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A tale of two ASLEFs?

Published on: Thu, 20/02/2020 - 10:09

We were amused to see another edition of the Tube Driver bulletin appear online recently (see bottom of this article), apparently an attempt by some members of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef) to replicate Tubeworker, but with an explicitly sectionalist, driver-only slant. It makes its lack of interest in solidarity with other grades very clear.

This latest edition covers the Bakerloo Line drivers' strike, which it calls "unnecessary". It is essentially a scab-herding leaflet. It stops just short of openly saying "Aslef members should cross RMT picket lines", but that's the message.

Like Tubeworker, Tube Driver is not an official union publication. But it wears its sectional, craft-unionist principles proudly on its sleeve, just as we wear our all-grades, industrial-unionist principles proudly on ours.

Fortunately, however, there are other voices with Aslef that have something different, and better, to say about the Bakerloo strike. The Twitter account of the Aslef West Brompton 226 branch that "if your sister union is on strike, you don't have to cross the picket line". Clearly, then, some people in Aslef understand the importance of cross-union solidarity, and aren't encouraging their workmates to scab.

We appeal to rank-and-file members of Aslef to follow those principles of solidarity, rather than the attitude encouraged by the Tube Driver bulletin.

The two souls of Aslef:

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Aslef launches ballot

Published on: Tue, 11/02/2020 - 15:23

Aslef has announced a ballot of its members on London Underground, over pay and conditions. The ballot opens on 28 February, and closes on 9 March. Aslef is a minority union across LU as a whole, but a majority amongst drivers. One of its key demands in pay negotiations thus far has been for a driver-specific salary increase, to bring LU drivers’ pay in line with that of mainline train drivers. Along with all other unions organising in LU, Aslef has also demanded a reduction in the working week.

An Aslef statement said that the union could not “accept a sub-standard offer that gives our members no guarantee of a pay rise for the next two years and does nothing to reduce the working week or close the pay gap with other train operating companies.”

TSSA has already accepted LU’s latest offer, for a RPI+0.2% pay increase each year from 2019-2023. RMT and Unite remain in dispute.

Aslef’s ballot asks a pointed question of RMT, which has held back from balloting thus far. Tubeworker believes RMT should have balloted months ago; delaying has only made the challenge of delivering ballot thresholds across a large membership harder. But that challenge must now be met.

RMT will not be able to ballot its entire membership in the short timeframe Aslef has set for its own ballot, but it must launch a ballot as soon as possible.

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Bakerloo drivers: all out!

Published on: Fri, 07/02/2020 - 13:53

RMT has named strikes in the timetable dispute on the Bakerloo Line. Drivers will strike from 11.59 on Friday 21 to 11.59 on Saturday 22, then from 11.59 on Sunday 23 to 11.59 on Monday 24. The intention is for this rolling strike to maximise the impact of the action across four days, while only requiring drivers to lose two days' money.

After returning a thumping ballot result, it appeared, as we'd previously reported, that progress had been made in negotiations. But things have slipped back since, and with no concrete concessions from management, workers have decided it's time for action.

This is a dispute over absolutely elementary issues: the right to decent working conditions. Working Timetable 44 is a mess, which has led to the time between some trips being so short that drivers don't even have time for a toilet break or a drink of water. The situation has had a knock-on effect for station staff, who have to deal with additional congestion on platforms caused by gaps between trains, and of course for passengers.

Tubeworker hopes Aslef members at Queen's Park and Elephant and Castle, the line's two train depots, will respect RMT picket lines.

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Sadiq Khan's election leaflet for commuters

Khan Boasts of Strike Fall

Published on: Thu, 02/01/2020 - 20:35

Sadiq Khan has started the New Year with a leaflet (pictured) asking people to re-elect him because he has kept the cost of commuting down. Fair enough, and here at Tubeworker, we would much rather see Khan reelected than the Tory candidate who plans to nick our Nominee Passes.

But what is that final bullet point? A boast about cutting Tube strike days?! That's not the sort of thing we want to see a Labour Mayor boasting about. Morevoer, the fact is that the fall in strike days is largely a result of the 2016 Trade Union Act (which stopped LUL staff striking over the London Bridge 3 and cleaners striking over working condtiions) - not of anything the Mayor has done.

He's going to have to do better than this to win transport workers' support.

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Bakerloo drivers vote for action

Published on: Tue, 17/12/2019 - 17:48

Bakerloo drivers in RMT have voted by a 95% majority for strikes, and by 98% for action short of a strike, on an 80% turnout.

They’re fighting to win a workable timetable; we reported on the issues in the dispute here.

Following this overwhelming vote for action, let’s hope the bosses see sense. But if not... see you on the picket lines!

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Action ahead on the Central Line?

Published on: Tue, 10/12/2019 - 16:04

It's becoming an all-too familiar pattern on trains. Managers in depots get out of control, presiding over a culture of petty and arbitrary discipline, interpreting procedures and policies punitively and acting like tinpot authoritarians. RMT drivers ballot for industrial action to stop this culture, strikes are declared, negotiations take place at Acas, trains managers promise to wind their necks in, and strikes are suspended.

A few months later... the old problems have returned and we're back to square one.

This appears now to be the case on the Central Line, with drivers arguing that management have reneged on promises made at Acas.

Maybe the only way management will learn to change their ways for good is when they realise our strike ballots aren't just idle threats, but that we actually have the ability to stop the job.

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