By a Tube worker
Finally, RMT and London Underground are officially in dispute over LUL’s attempt to cut station staff under cover of re-rostering for the shorter working week agreement.
The whole year has been spent going through a process of drafting and re-drafting rosters, with management’s drafts attacking staffing levels at many locations. Of course, the union had to go through this process — the members had voted overwhelmingly for a deal which included it. But it has been obvious for some time now that the company has not been consulting in good faith, and that the consequences of their new rosters would be dire.
After reps rightly rejected union officials’ recommendation to accept the rosters, the officials went back to the company to challenge it over particular issues. That’s where it all broke down, over the following issues:
• Safety validation. Management reckon that they can risk-assess the new rosters without the involvement of trade union health and safety reps! They plan to “assess” them and report back that everything is safe and sound, without workers’ own representatives getting a say! We think not.
• Displacements. The company has already issued hundreds of staff with displacement notices, even though the rosters have not been agreed. To add insult to injury, it has emerged that management are sneakily trying to displace hundreds of staff who are currently above numbers at their locations, and to slip this into the re-rostering unnoticed.
• Flexible working / medical redeployment. LUL has refused to protect staff who have particular work hours and/or locations due to childcare or medical reasons. They could find themselves displaced to locations where it is impossible for them to work.
• Productivity. Management are using the process as a means of forcing through productivity measures.
RMT will soon be balloting stations members for both strike action and industrial action short of strikes. We need a big Yes vote, to give us the mandate to fight. We can then discuss tactics — perhaps we could look at a combine-wide overtime ban, or a refusal to work revenue duties, combined with strikes in the areas most affected. We could strike on the day the City returns to trading after the Christmas and New Year break. The important thing is that we need a democratically-discussed strategy, not just one-off protest gestures.