Staffing Levels

“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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Action due in District East safety dispute

Published on: Thu, 26/09/2019 - 11:52

As Tubeworker went to press, industrial action short of strikes was due to begin on District East stations on 27 September.

Workers will refuse to attend incidents or detrain alone, and will work from a place of safety. The action came about after a spike in antisocial behaviour and staff assaults prompted the local union to launch a dispute.

The demand is clear: more staff, end lone working.

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Take action against lone working!

Published on: Tue, 27/08/2019 - 17:56

After lone working at the east end of the District Line led to a spike in staff assaults, local reps began renewed campaigning against lone working. RMT is now preparing to ballot station staff on the District East group for action to demand increased staffing levels.

Workers will vote on whether to take action-short-of-strikes, in the form of working from a place of safety when lone working, and refusing to detrain or attend incidents alone.

The ballot runs from 29 August to 12 September. If you work on District East, vote yes for action!

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Scorecard stress

Published on: Thu, 18/07/2019 - 13:24

London Underground has come up with another scorecard measure to punish station staff for the lack of staff.

The old measure, 'gateline availability', has been replaced with 'gateline integrity'. LU used to calculate an average of the time that all gates were in full service. It now calculates a score for each individual gate.

LU must intend to stamp out the widespread practice, arising from short-staffing, of leaving the gateline unattended with the Wide Aisle Gate open while you pop to do a station check, retrieve money lost in a ticket machine, etc. New guidance reiterates what we should have been doing all along: whenever you leave the gateline unattended, open all the gates, record the times and the reasons and do an EIRF.

On one hand, each EIRF could be useful to evidence widespread short staffing. The problem is that if you're so short staffed you're leaving the gates open, you're not likely to have the staff to write the EIRF either.

At some stations, staff need to attend something away from the gateline so frequently that Supervisors would be completing 20 to 30 EIRFs a shift.

The main effect of this new scorecard measure will be to stress out the staff who are trying to cover all areas of the station simultaneously. Instead of being praised for their efforts, they will be nagged by management for poor gateline scores.

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Calling you at home?

Published on: Thu, 18/04/2019 - 14:40

Tubeworker thinks that outside of a genuine emergency no one needs their manager contacting them outside of work. The survey being conducted by Aslef as to whether managers can call us to offer duties we didn't request has a very easy answer. NO!

Duties should not be given out on the basis of who is friendly with any particular manager. Reports that some managers have been doing this will soon highlight who is and who isn't flavour of the month. We don't want a set of us that managers favour and some of us (and we know which of us this will be) that they don't. The real issues at stake here are driver numbers. We need more of us and fewer shortcuts.

Tubeworker topics

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A year of unstaffed stations!

Published on: Sat, 30/03/2019 - 14:03

A recent Freedom of Information request lodged by the RMT revealed that Tube stations were left unstaffed for a cumulative total of 7,500 hours across the whole network in 2018, the equivalent of 312 days.

LU's now infamous claim that "all stations will be staffed, from first to last trains" lies in absolute tatters.

Tube users who don't want to use or travel through unstaffed stations, where there's no-one to ask for help and no-one to assist in an incident, should support Tube workers in our industrial and political campaigns for a reversal of job cuts, better funding, and fully-staffed Tube.

Tubeworker topics

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District and H&C workers resist lone working

Published on: Fri, 22/03/2019 - 18:44

Station staff on the District East group, and drivers at Upminster and Barking depots on the District and Hammersmith and City Lines, are planning ballots for industrial action to protest lone working.

A recent spate of antisocial behaviour and violence, including stabbings, in the area sparked workers’ concern. A statement from their union branch, RMT East Ham, said: “In the space of three days, there has been a shooting and two stabbings on trains within our Branch area, and a further knife attack outside one of our stations. In all of these incidents, our members acted with bravery and professionalism, but this should not be a normal part of our jobs. Unfortunately, these types of crimes are becoming more common, putting our members at unacceptable risk.”

The ballot will be for industrial action short of a strike, specifically to refuse to lone work at stations alone or to detrain trains alone.

Lone working is a direct consequence of LU’s cuts to staffing levels over successive years; District Line workers are right to resist it.

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Fight for more jobs on trains!

Published on: Wed, 20/02/2019 - 20:59

The RMT trade union recently called for more train operators. The union's National Executive Committee made a decision on the matter that stated the issues caused by a lack of drivers are 'increasingly detrimental effect on members in terms of their ability to take leave, family friendly & flexible arrangements, medically necessary reasonable adjustments, training, secondments, career development and representation at management meetings including disciplinaries.'

The RMT decision blames the 2009 agreement for the shortage of drivers, The agreement installed the practice of 'minimum numbers' at depot and as these were lower than the current numbers in many places, the company used it to make cuts and move people around across the combine.

It is however something of a misnomer to blame the agreements as a willing employer could suggest altering it to increase numbers. The true reason we have too few drivers is because our bosses hired too few drivers.

The ASLEF functional reps, some of whom haven't driven a train for 20 years or longer, took this attack on the 2009 agreement as a personal attack as they see themselves primarily as the keepers of these agreements (even though they admit it 'isn't perfect'), and so another tiresome spat between our unions took hold.

The RMT would be wise to focus on what this important dispute is about: more train operator jobs. This benefits everybody, those of us who already drive trains, those who want a job driving trains, and those who need to get around London.

When ASLEF argues against this move from the RMT they are actually arguing against is an increase in train operator numbers. When a union's officials get so blindsided by petty disputes that they behave in that way, it is harmful to all of us.

Tubeworker topics

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Tabards launched...

Published on: Sun, 10/02/2019 - 20:07

LU's risible red tabards have been officially launched, but if the response at many stations is anything to go by, the launch is something of a damp squib.

Staff in numerous locations are simply not wearing the tabards, with CSSs and CSMs believing, rightly, that their job is to run the station, not enforce LU's daft cosmetic exercise. So far management aren't cracking the whip, with refuseniks being asked to write memos, but nothing more. That could change, however, and Tubeworker reiterates our view that individuals refusing in ones and twos might not be wise, but collective refusal-to-wear by everyone, or at least a significant proportion of people, on a particular shift should be organised wherever possible. As we're not an official union publication, or linked to any union, we can say that without risk of legal reprisal.

RMT is not instructing or advising members to refuse to wear the tabards. However, an RMT ballot for official action-short-of-strikes to refuse to wear the tabards is on its way, and in the meantime, the union has committed to defend any member facing discipline for refusing to wear one, or refusing the enforcing their wearing. Does LU really want to pick a fight with its own frontline staff over a bit of fabric?

Some might argue that it's not worth the union scrapping over either, but the fact is, the tabards are a slap in the face to a stations workforce who've seen frontline staffing levels cut and cut again over the years, only to be told by the bosses who made the cuts that the problem isn't numbers but simply that we're not wearing bright enough clothing! Resisting the tabards isn't the biggest battle we'll ever fight but it is about having some basic self-respect and not allowing LU's hypocrisy to go without protest and challenge.

To add a further element of farce to the whole affair, there's an official LU health and safety document doing the rounds which says the tabards aren't compulsory after all. That's contradicted by other documentation saying they are, but at the very least it shows LU doesn't really know what it's doing.

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Bring the Jobs Fights Together!

Published on: Fri, 08/02/2019 - 14:40

Many grades in many locations are suffering under the destaffing over recent years, or are facing imminent cuts to jobs.

The unions - primarily RMT - are fighting back on several fronts. RMT has scored some successes, including on Bakerloo South stations groups and the cleaning contractor, ABM.

Now, more stations groups are going into action, and the union is gearing up for battles against a 2009 agreement on trains that restricts depot staffing levels, and threatened cuts to train prep.

Moreover, other issues under dispute - for example, the ludicrous red tabards, or unacceptable rosters or ticketing problems - are rooted in staff shortages.

Our fightback will be stronger if we fight the roots cause rather than just the symptoms. The more we can bring these disparate disputes together, the better.

This might be easier said than done, particularly since the imposition of difficult-to-reach ballot thresholds by the 2016 Trade Union Act, but with the will and the effort, it can be done. And even if we don't feel ready to call everyone out on strike yet, we can synchronise ballots and actions in different areas.

Moreover, the root cause has a root cause too, as under-staffing is the result of under-funding. Tubeworker would like to see our unions campaign more stridently against the government's cut to TfL's funding and TfL's failure to fight that cut.

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