Service control

Victoria Service Control strike!

Published on: Fri, 06/03/2020 - 16:57

Following a 100% vote for strikes to oppose an intolerable culture of overbearing management, service controllers on the Victoria Line will strike on 20 and 27 March. This dispute simply won't be resolved without a fundamental change in management culture.

With numerous workplace issues causing dissent at the Hammersmith Control Centre, as we reported here, there's potential for a wider dispute across LU Service Control.

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Fighting back in Service Control

Published on: Sat, 22/02/2020 - 18:23

Service control workers on the Victoria Line, and in the Hammersmith Service Control Centre, are fighting back for better working conditions.

A raft of workplace issues at Osborne House, home to Vic Line SC, led to a strike ballot which returned a 100% majority for action in January. Reps are now due to go to Acas for negotiations with management in late February and early March. Issues include the imposition of rosters and a heavy-handed management culture. The Head of Line Operations for the Victoria Line has refused to meet with RMT reps to discuss the situation. All of this has led to morale levels falling through the floor, with increases in stress and sickness.

At Hammersmith, workers describe working conditions in the Service Control Centre as "appalling", with problems including: not enough control room toilets; no full size control room kitchen; no control room mess facilities; inadequate seating and chairs; poor building access routes; sub-standard control room lighting; not enough lockers and a poorly located locker room; poor cleaning; poor building management; no on-site parking; and staff risking and experiencing assaults when walking to the control centre. There are also issues with training, and procedures related to the introduction of the new Communication Based Train Control system.

Quite a list, we're sure Tubeworker readers will agree! Fortunately RMT Service Control reps are planning a fight back.

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Hammersmith Hammers Staff

Published on: Sun, 22/12/2019 - 11:38

It was a long time coming, so you would think that management could have made the Hammersmith Servic Control Centre a decent place to work. If so, you'd be disappointed.

First up, there is the inadequate access to the building, with no parking spaces and staff assaulted while walking to work. staff facilities are well short of what we need.

Then, once inside, the control room does not have a full-size kitchen or mess facilites, and doesn't even have enough toilets. Seating, lighting and lockers are all inadequate.

Seven years ago, service control staff showed how to fight off management attacks. A whopping ballot result and a plan for sustained strike action saw the company back down from using its planned Hammersmith Control Centre as a pretext for an assault on working conditions. It's time to bring out our strongest weapon again.

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Signal Operators Bite Back

Published on: Thu, 18/10/2018 - 14:45

When fleas infested Rickmansworth signal cabin, operators refused to work in there.

Suffice to say, faced with this defiance, management soon got the problem cleaned up.

A fine example to us all. We don't have to suffer discomfort and possible ill-health just because management can't manage to keep our workplaces free of creepy crawlies. Remember your right to refuse!

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Return of the Rainbow?

Published on: Fri, 03/11/2017 - 10:24

Remember Rainbow? Managers at their keyboards spotting imaginary 'patterns' in your sickness absence so they can issue warnings to staff who haven't actually triggered the Attendance procedure. Well, it appears to have reappeared.

The Rainbow has been spotted recently over some Piccadilly line traincrew depots, Central line stations and in service control. If you spot it in your area, get on to your union rep straightaway.

At the end of this Rainbow is a crock ... but not of gold.

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Wot No Control Staff

Published on: Thu, 23/02/2017 - 08:50

A new manager comes in, wants to make a name for himself, clamps down on overtime, interferes with established ways of ensuring coverage, and guess what happens?

Yup. Not enough control staff to run the subsurface and Piccadilly lines last night. No problems for our intrepid new guvnor: the control room equipment can run itself! No, it can't. Still no problem: the staff can work through their meal reliefs. Er, no they can't.

Result: job up wall.

Management managed to attribute this to 'industrial action' and then 'absence of control staff'. Might we suggest that 'shortage of staff' and 'shortcomings of management' might be more accurate?

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Waterloo & City Line strikers speak out

Published on: Mon, 12/10/2015 - 20:17

Service controllers on the Waterloo and City Line on London Underground (LU) have been fighting for regrading to reflect the responsible nature of their work. They struck from 28-30 September. One of the activists spoke to Tubeworker.

The dispute goes back to 2006/7, when the signalling for the line was moved to a new control centre. That meant we had more responsibilities, and were working with new equipment. Previously we'd been signallers, now we were doing controllers' work – but LU didn't upgrade us. We were told we'd be moved up to “Controller 1”, the lowest grade of controller. But in 2008, the company reneged, saying that the financial crisis meant they couldn't afford it!

The dispute has been ongoing ever since. Over the years there's been a steady stream of new procedures and technologies being introduced. We're doing work equivalent to the highest grade of controller, but we're still in a separate grade.

An offer was made to us last year to upgrade us if we worked additional Sundays. But at the last minute, the company informed us they'd pay for it by cutting jobs in another grade at our depot. We didn't want our promotion to come at the price of jobs elsewhere, so we refused.

We struck from 28-30 September, the first time we've taken action in the dispute. The strike was solid, but management kept the service running by drafting in hordes of managers to cover the work. It was really overkill. However, controllers from another depot who were asked to come in to cover the work refused to do so, which was positive.

We were directly attacked on the front page of the Evening Standard, in an article that bemoaned the fact that small numbers had voted in our strike ballot. We felt the attack was very personal, and that we were being picked on for working in a small workplace.

The managers who covered the work on our strike day were qualified on paper, but not used to working in our environment. If we take action again, we'd encourage other grades of staff, particularly drivers, to call up and make sure that whoever's running the line is properly trained and competent.

We're looking to take more action towards the end of the year, and are exploring different forms of industrial action.

What's happening to us is part of a wider picture. London Underground is cutting staff in a variety of areas, and our experiences – of essentially being promoted to more responsible roles, involving more work, without that being reflected in our pay – mirror what's currently happening to station staff. They've picked on us particularly because we're a small unit, but if we can win our fight for justice it might inspire other grades in other areas.

The mood in the workplace is extremely angry. To make sure that anger fuels a resolve to continue fighting, we need continued communication from the union, and regular updates from talks and negotiations so we can decide the best way forward for our dispute.

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W&C Service Controllers Strike Back

Published on: Mon, 21/09/2015 - 13:40

Waterloo and City line service controllers will strike for 48 hours next week in their fight to have their job uprated.

W&C controllers are paid less than every other service controller on the job - they have a grade all to themselves so that the company can pay them five grand less than others. They are even paid less than some signal operators.

This is despite the fact that their job includes signal operations, line control and line information, and despite new equipment being installed in their control room.

LUL offered to uprate them last year, but when they found out that this would be at the cost of jobs in other grades in the depot, they refused to accept.

These services controllers have shown solidarity with other grades, so let's all show solidarity with them.

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Strike Threat Forces Management to Talk Pay Rise

Published on: Mon, 22/12/2014 - 19:08

For nearly two years, Waterloo & City line service control staff have been refusing overtime in pursuit of their entirely justified claim for higher pay to reflect the complexity of their work. Nothing doing. Management didn't care.

So they stepped it up. Balloted for strike action. Got a 100% Yes vote. Put on a 48-hour strike.

And guess what? Management came running to ACAS and have now agreed a review which should lead to a pay enhancement.

The lesson is obvious: if we want to win, we must show willing to take action.

But there is a but ... If we take our eye off the ball now, the "review" could end up being a damp squib, or even a Trojan horse for attacks on pay and conditions. It is essential that the momentum is maintained and that management understand that unless the review delivers what we want, that strike action will be back on.

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Random Testing

Published on: Mon, 01/04/2013 - 14:21

Neasden signals flashed like Xmas lights for eight months, until an RMT industrial action threat forced LU and Thales to respond.

But new software didn't fix it. Signallers are still clearing one route only for another signal to turn to danger - potentially causing drivers to SPAD.

Thales only randomly tests some routes . LU should force Thales to test every route. Safety is as stake! We’ll need to carry out our threatened strike to sort this for good! 

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