On Friday 16 March, all workplace reps for stations staff, drivers, service control staff, and maintenance workers met to discuss London Underground Limited (LUL)’s offer for Olympics working. The meeting vote unanimously to reject the offer.
The offer was for an £850 bonus, but some of that included money reallocated from existing bonus packages that we would have got anyway. The new money was a £350 lump-sum plus a £20 bonus per shift worked during the Games. But the offer had substantial strings. For example, on stations staff could be deployed to any station on their group. As some groups are as big as 13 stations, that could have meant being sent anywhere over large distances. It would significantly increase travel time to and from work. Management also wants to do away with the current two-hour time limit for changing duties; they want to be able to move us or redeploy us with no notice whatsoever. Stations staff would have had to take their meal breaks on station premises, and there would be a compulsory six-day week for service control staff.
The decision of the meeting to reject the offer is a clear message that workers are not prepared to sell out terms and conditions for an Olympics bribe from management. It’s an important signal, because prior to the meeting there had been a feeling from some union officials that compromising on terms and conditions would be the only way to win a bonus. Reps have been clear that our members don’t want to sell our framework agreement.
Now the decision’s been taken, we need an active campaign in the workplace to involve “shop-floor” reps and ordinary workers. People need to feel ownership over what the union’s doing and feel like they have control over the direction of the campaign.
If we can build that active rank-and-file engagement, we have a chance to mount a serious industrial campaign that could force real concessions from bosses.