Where will the axe fall? (Diary of a Tube worker)

Submitted by AWL on 23 September, 2020 - 8:06 Author: Jay Dawkey
Tube worker

"I've been here 13 years, so you know what, yeah? If this fucks me, now, and it doesn't come round, I'll be pissed, pissed". D shakes their head and goes back to their food.

"Well, the training [for Tube station workers to become drivers] has to restart at some point, but it's going to be a long time yet. They haven't even got enough instructors that can do the in-cab training yet".

I'm in a similar boat myself. Several of us all thought we had a route out. It has been six months now since the lockdown put our training on pause, and time is really dragging.

And some days drag more than others. "It's better for us if more people are coming through. It feels busy now, we probably need it". "Yeah, more customers is more protection for us", I say. Everyone is aware that the KPMG report, whatever the details, will see the axe fall somewhere

"It'll be the back office lot. People in Palestra (TfL HQ) who earn about £35k, and that have been on furlough. If they think, 'well we've managed without them', then they will be for the chop". "Could be", I say, "but we can't let them just dictate the changes, and even if it might not be our jobs this time, it could be us next time. We should not let them take those jobs, even if we don't know what they do".

"Bring back cash and we'd guarantee our jobs. I can't believe we can still go without cash. Most of us want it back, at least in one ticket machine. It's not fair".

"Yeah 35 quid today I've done", K says, looking up from his Superbikes magazine. "What do you mean"? I ask. "That's how much I have spent on my card and taken the cash for", he replies. "Ah, you probably think I don't care, dontcha? I might think we are too soft on the double-gaters but if someone only has cash, then we are just encouraging them to push through... Nah I can manage it, so I just top 'em up from my card".

"Fair enough, shouldn't have to do that though, should we?". "Yeah, and now I've got all this cash, hahaha". K pipes up, "But I think company are going to keep it this way. I know the Area Manager, likes it this way. Might not be fair, but saves them money on getting the cash collected, and then they won't need as many of us either". "Yeah, well, that's really why we need it back then".

Days later we get an email confirming that the company is considering going completely cashless across all 270 stations. "They can use the money saved to fix all the gates that are going to get smashed then" someone says in WhatsApp. They may well be right.

• Jay Dawkey is a London Underground worker and activist in the RMT union.

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