OSP 2010/11

OSP Adventure

Published on: Thu, 24/05/2012 - 13:50

Is LU panicking about the Olympics? Maybe that's why they are drafting in 600 new CSAs on top of the 300 they've already recruited?

LU's recruitment of more CSAs than the number of stations job cuts last year proves we were right to resist OSP.

But it doesn't make up for three years of stressful understaffing created by LU's OSP adventure.

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Keep Fighting For Stations Jobs

Published on: Sat, 25/06/2011 - 21:50

Since February, station staff have been living with the impact of the OSP job cuts: anti-social rosters and staff shortages. Staff are also learning to live with new attacks, such as enhanced AFM functionality, as the unions have not given any lead so far on how we should resist them.

But we should still be angry. Ticket office cuts leave stations so short that there is insufficient time to service machines. At Bank Station, with just four SAMFs for three ticket offices, the ticket office has been closing every day for servicing machines and IRFs have been filled out each time. This is just one example of how to put management under maximum pressure at local level.

The huge fight last year was not successful in defending staffing levels. The unions have gone quiet, with TSSA saying little and RMT's Executive voting down a set of proposals from a reps' meeting. But the last thing we should do is give up the fight, when management are planning future cutbacks. The dispute may be over but the war still goes on. We should look to start a new dispute with LU, fighting issues like enhanced AFM functionality and line working. Why make it easy for them to implement future cuts?

In the meantime, we need a campaign of guerrilla warfare against the impact of the staffing cuts.

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No Strikes Before Job Cuts?

Published on: Fri, 21/01/2011 - 14:29

It now seems clear that RMT and TSSA will not name any more strike dates before the station job cuts come in on 6th February. This does not mean the dispute is over but it is difficult to see what we can achieve without any strike dates before the implementation.

In the words of one member of station staff, this demoralising decision 'feels like a huge shame and a betrayal, they have given up so early'. We should figure out how to salvage this fight in whatever way we can, but it does feel very much like the unions have given up.

So why back off now? This decision has come just as the cuts are about to come in. LU has just begun a review of the job cuts with the unions. Tubeworker, and many union activists and members, argued that we should name a 48-hour strike to pressure LU to suspend the cuts' implementation until a thorough review had taken place. Strike dates could have pressured LU to take the review seriously, so we might have been able to save a significant number of jobs out of it.

The decision not to strike before implementation will compromise future disputes. It will send the signal to LU that the unions will crumble under the least bit of pressure.

It feels like the people high up in the unions don't have any fight in them. We put ourselves on the line, lose money and work hard for disputes on the ground. They don't give us the backing we deserve.

Some argue that we could not carry on striking because the mood had died down. We agree that leaving members in the dark for two months without naming any further action damaged the momentum. That's why we argued for naming more dates in December, and escalating the action much sooner. But there was still time and commitment to fight, especially as staff faced the reality of the awful new rosters, and with confident leadership and hard work, morale would have built up again.

This all brings back bad memories of how RMT resolved last year's pay dispute (a dispute that the other unions had never even taken part in). Fighting for a few days, killing the dispute with months of silence, then finally putting it out of its misery. Although it is much more willing to go into a fight than the other unions, RMT seems to do so hoping for the best, but then lacks the courage to see it through.

Although our morale is drained, we must not give up on our union. We must organise inside the union to prevent such things happening again!

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Published on: Tue, 18/01/2011 - 19:18

London Undergound, too skint to afford staff, has found money to employ consultants to ask station staff how we can make ourselves more visible to customers!

How idiotic is this? If they are so worried, perhaps they might think about keeping the hundreds of station staff who are fighting to save our jobs.

Or perhaps they are worried they will have to break their public pledge that these cuts will 'increase the number of visible staff'.

Why don't we, they suggest, take a saunter around the ticket hall, rather than standing permanently next to the way in gates? To anyone with any experience of a station, the obvious answer is: people would not be able to get through the gates! They would have to go looking for staff, rather than finding them right next to the gates where they need them. So much for improving visibility!

In reality, they have removed Customer Care Assistants (the people who assist in the ticket halls) from the new rosters, so it seems that they now want gateline staff to do both jobs at once. LU are adding insult to injury, implying we are not doing our jobs properly, when in reality LU are worried there will be a reduction in customer service when there are less station staff.

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Stations Job Cuts AND Casualisation?!

Published on: Tue, 18/01/2011 - 18:14

LU management plan that when the stations job cuts come in, staff who are not displaced into a rostered position will be displaced off a roster onto the group reserve. Station groups' reserves will swell to more than the official numbers, what LU calls 'over establishment'.

When LU says it's skint, how does it make sense for it to pay people to do jobs that no longer exist?

Well, one thing is that LU do not expect this excess of staff to last long. The company will whittle the number down through 'natural wastage': given LU's current form, does that mean increasingly harsh disciplinary measures?

Management have also hinted that 'over-establishment' staff will be 'line cover'. Rather than working on your own group, you will be expected to work like that old Martini advert: 'any place, any time, anywhere'. With such long-dreamed-of flexibility, LU will have no trouble keeping their stations open.

This threatens to worsen reserve staffs' conditions. As if it's not bad enough with only 28 days' notice for shifts and often no set rest days.

LU has been pushing for casualisation. Management are trying to claim that the reference to 'business area' in the framework agreement allows for off-group working along the whole line. And they are trying to impose a new framework agreement (impose an agreement? A contradiction, surely?) Which allows them to make rostered staff work at other stations on the group whether it is an unanticipated situation or not. LU is also pushing for the Special Requirements Team to be allowed to cover station duties, rather than being additional staff.

We can't let LU get away with this. It will turn LU's reorganisation into a '2 for 1' for LU: job cuts and casualisation.

How can we stop it? Use the official channels between unions and management to register our disagreement. But LU doesn't care about our opposition on paper unless we can back it up with action. Every member of station staff should be armed with their rights according to the Stations Framework Agreement. Staff should be given the confidence to refuse en masse before it becomes common practice to work off your group. The stations unions could also put on action short of a strike to refuse to comply with off-group working to bolster our confidence to refuse.

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Still Time to Fight!

Published on: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 00:12

LU have published the new rosters, minus the jobs we have been fighting to save. Some people feel this means LU have finally got their way. But the fight is not over. The new rosters do not come into effect until February 6th; LU are participating in a review of the cuts; a lot of RMT branches have passed motions for a 48 hour strike at the end of January and the RMT's executive voted last week to call a 48 hour strike at the end of January.

The unions could have used the publication of the rosters to galvanise the fight against them. Instead, the lack of new strike dates and a decisive lead from the unions thus far has allowed a sense of dismay and defeat to grow. Tubeworker argued that the unions should name more strike dates for December. At the very least they should have named some for January. The rosters are no more mighty and unchangeable than they ever were. The only thing that has changed is the absence of a fight.

Tubeworker says the fight is on and we should name a 48 hour strike at the end of January. We are not arguing for irresponsible, token, protest action. Tubeworker has argued repeatedly that action should only be called if there is a realistic chance of achieving something. In this case, the jobs review is a pressure point through which we might save some jobs. If LU agreed to postpone the implementation of the cuts to allow a thorough review, rather than the current bizarre and hopeless arranagement to continue the jobs review beyond the cuts implementation, then that would be a substantial gain. There is still time to fight for these gains - if the unions act quickly and decisively.

Some might argue that as the unions' leaderships have damaged the dispute through their silence over Xmas, it should be killed off altogether. Some say, 'The mood for a fight has gone' and 'A strike would collapse'. For precisely that reason, Tubeworker argued to keep the action and fight alive over Xmas. You don't need to tell us how a silent, unconfident leadership drains momentum from a dispute.

But some people also say, 'We have lost four days' money to get this far; we are not giving up for no gain'. If some fear further strikes will grieve members, remember noone is exactly jumping for joy about the cuts. Giving up, with all the long-term effects on our jobs and lives, would probably grieve us more.

Whatever happens next should be decided with the maximum level of democracy. Reps and members should be encouraged to participate in deciding whether and when we strike. The unions should be honest with us about the prospects of winning and what has been achieved. We should be credited with the intelligence to understand our own dispute. Our new representative on the RMT council of executives, Janine Booth, was elected on the pledge to only put on or call off disputes if decided by the majority of reps. Democracy should prevail.

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Job Cuts Dispute: Where are we?

Published on: Wed, 29/12/2010 - 11:54

So ... where are we with this fight against job cuts then?!

150 managers and admin already gone ... another 650 stations jobs due to go on 6 February ... 600 to go in the 'support services review' ... Project Horizon to usher in more, no doubt ... and individuals' jobs going at a rate of knots to help management get on with it.

What we have going for us: RMT and TSSA fighting shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time; all grades striking solidly together on four separate occasions now; action short of strikes keeping up the pressure; widespread public opposition to the staffing cuts; the GLA voting against them, putting BoJo under pressure; other sections of society taking action against cuts eg. students; LU management pressured into talks; and a decision from RMT's Executive to give us strike pay if and when we go out again.

Of course there are negatives too, but with these things on our side, there should be no need to shrug and give up now. But with no new strike dates named, members are beginning to feel like the unions have done just that. Of course, everyone wants the talks to succeed, but if they do not feel the threat of further action, there will be no need for management to give us anything significant. The talks could enable either significant gains or a woeful defeat: the difference will be made by the pressure of industrial action and by ensuring openness and regular reporting on what is happening in the talks.

Whoever takes over on RMT's Executive next week needs to grab this dispute by the scruff of the neck and ensure that we press on for whatever scale of victory is within our reach. Urgently, that means getting out round the workplaces explaining the state of play to rank-and-file members and listening to their opinions and ideas; a renewed drive for our press and political campaigns; and naming new dates for strike action, of at least 48 hours.

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VS? No Thanks

Published on: Thu, 14/10/2010 - 19:33

LU management's latest ploy to undermine our fight against job cuts is to offer voluntary severance (VS) to a limited number of SAMFs, despite its 'consultation' not being over.

The company is doing this in order to create the impression that the job cuts are a done deal and will go ahead regardless of our industrial action. It also hopes that if enough people apply, they can spread the idea that there is no point striking for people who are willing to leave. But that's a fake argument: this fight is not about saving individual people, but about saving jobs.

So Tubeworker won't be touching the VS 'offer' with a bargepole. And if you are tempted, you might ask yourself - is it really your job to sell?!

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We Can Win!

Published on: Mon, 11/10/2010 - 13:09

Some people might have thought from the most recent strike that the fight was weakening on the Victoria Line. Unlike the previous strike, LU managed to run a service along the full length of the line.

In fact, the fight is not weakening amongst the drivers. The first strike, they couldn't run trains from Seven Sisters to Walthamstow because there were no station staff. This time, they were so desperate for political reasons to run a service the full length of the line that they opened Walthamstow with one person - under minimum numbers! It was a virtually useless service, with Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Road still closed due to lack of staff.

But, for LU it was worth it to score their political point. If they tell you the strike is weakening where they ran more of a service, the lesson is: look at the facts behind their propaganda. You will probably find safety breaches and political games.

We have had loads more stories of LU risking passengers' safety on the most recent strike. At Angel, a trainload full of passengers alighted, hiked up the longest escalators on the network, only to find the station padlocked closed with them trapped inside! Showing true competence and professionalism, the DSM that locked up the station had forgotten to put the non-stopping boards out on the platforms.

At Neasden, passengers were also trapped inside the station and had to break the Boswick gates to get out. The story of passengers trapped at Canada Water for 45 minutes even made it onto the news!

We need to take heart from these stories. LU talk down our impact to crush our mood. But they must be aware of our power if they are prepared to go to these lengths to undermine it. When we start to doubt whether we are strong enough to win, we should remember: they think we are!

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Another 800 Job Cuts

Published on: Fri, 08/10/2010 - 09:58

London Underground has announced another 800 job cuts, planning to get rid of 400 "support staff" (whatever that may mean) and not filling another 400 posts currently either vacant or covered by temps.

For any remaining doubters, it must now be crystal clear that (a) the 800 station staff job cuts were only ever the first domino in a long line; and (b) we are in the fight of our lives. If we do not fight strongly and effectively to defend all these jobs, then management - and the politicians who pull their strings - will walk all over us.

Remember also, that management reckon that the "no compulsory redundancies" agreement does not apply to non-operational staff. This is bullshit, of course, as the agreement clearly states that it applies to "all employees", but management can not always be relied upon to stick by clearly-printed words that they themselves signed up to.

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