Pay&Conditions/Night Tube 2015

No to Driver Displacements

Published on: Sun, 12/06/2016 - 14:43

Remember that promise that there would be no detriment arising from the implementation of Night Tube? Remember that promise in the Pay and Night tube dispute settlement that work-life balance would not get worse and would get better where possible?

Well, those promises look like a sick joke to the 42 drivers across the combine facing forced displacement from their depots to depots an hour or more from where they work now.

Numbers at Queen's Park and Earl's Court are falling towards the minimum, but LUL has decided not to recruit more drivers (because it over-recruited for Night Tube and so has some extras), it will kick junior drivers out of their depots and dump them at the other end of London, starting with 15 drivers from Morden, to be followed by 24 from the Central Line east depots.

RMT's Central Line East branch has already called on the union to ballot for industrial action, as drivers flocked to its last meeting determined to fight this. These drivers face having more than ten hours added to their weekly travelling hours to and from work.

The clear message to management is that if they don't back down, we will walk out. They claim that the Main Agreement says they can do this - but it doesn't say that they have to, and it doesn't say that we can't fight them doing so.

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Night Tube launch announced? Sort of...

Published on: Fri, 18/03/2016 - 23:23

There seems to be a lot of fun and games going on regarding the launch date from Night Tube.

Apparently Boris Johnson wanted to announce its launch in September, so Aslef decided to undercut him by announcing it would be starting in August! In an attempt to get the upper hand again, Boris has now said it will start "in late July". Tube bosses say "from late July." The problem with all this spin will be if bosses try and rush the launch of Night Tube to suit the mayor; at the cost of doing it safely. They already tried to force it past workers and were given a firm rebuttal by our unions.

There's also the outstanding issue of the TubeLines workers' pay, terms, and conditions, which need levelling them in line with the deals offered to other LU staff. They're standing firm for equality and could yet throw a spanner in the launch plans.

Two things are for certain: whenever Night Tube is launched, Boris will be out of City Hall. And whenever it's launched, it will require the consent and participation of workers. Neither the incumbent nor incoming Mayor, nor LU bosses, should take that for granted.

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Eight Reasons Why Tubeworker will be Voting 'No' to the Pay / Night Tube Offer

Published on: Wed, 03/02/2016 - 16:10

As our unions put referendum papers into envelopes asking us to accept the pay / Night Tube offer, Tubeworker will be voting No, because:

1. It is a pay cut. National Insurance rules change in April, meaning that more will be deducted from our gross pay. Together with the rising cost of living, this means that we will have less money coming in and more going out.

2. LUL has given Area Managers 8% pay rises. Why should we settle for so much less?!

3. We (especially those of us in lower-paid grades) will be left struggling with the spiralling cost of living in London.

4. A four-year deal means that there will be no chance of progress in pay or working conditions (for example, on our long-standing demands for shorter working hours or equal travel facilities) until 2019.

5. In those four years when we don't fight over pay and conditions, what do you think management will do - twiddle their thumbs?! No, they will set about further attacks on our jobs and conditions. They will try to impose Fit for the Future - Trains, Fit for the Future - Service Control, Fit for the Future - Engineering, etc etc etc.

6. Under Fit for the Future - Stations, staff will be doing the work of the grade that is currently above them, but the pay offer does not increase their salary to reflect that. (Expect this when FftF comes for your grade too.)

7. Boris Johnson has already welcomed the prospect of the unions accepting, saying that LUL can now move on to extending Night Tube beyond Fridays and Saturdays and to introducing fully automated (ie. driverless) trains.

8. We have the power to win more. All grades standing together will make management put their hands in their pockets.

And a final one ... Although RMT is asking members to vote to accept only those parts of LUL's offer that concern pay and Night Tube, the company may insist that as its offer includes Fit for the Future - Stations as well, then it is all or nothing: that by accepting pay/NT we are accepting FftF or that if we don't accept it all we can't have any of it.

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Pay, Night Tube, Jobs: Keep the Action On!

Published on: Thu, 21/01/2016 - 15:32

Indications that ASLEF is dropping out of the fight over pay and Night Tube are alarming - the barely-changed pay offer is not good enough.

What's wrong with the pay offer?
With the offer on the table stuck at RPI only in years 2 and 3, this will amount to a real-terms pay cut, because: firstly, National Insurance changes will be taking money out of our pay packets; and secondly, RPI consistently understates real increases in the cost of living for working people, especially huge and rising costs in London. This offer will leave us out of pocket.
Management expect us to swallow the line that in "times like these" we can't expect substantial pay rises. But last year, the company gave station managers an 8% pay hike. The "economic climate" didn't seem to prevent that!
Moreover, a four-year deal would mean there would be no progress on demands for improved conditions for at least four years, including long-standing claims for shorter working hours.
It would clear management's desks to draw up new attacks on us. When we gave them a four-year deal in 2011, they used those four years to bring in Fit for the Future - Stations. Give them another four years and they will bring in Fit for the Future - Trains, Service Control, Fleet, Track, Admin, etc etc.

Keep strikes on
ASLEF members told Tubeworker that they want the Society to reject the offer and reinstate the strike action.
RMT and TSSA will be considering this development, with rank-and-file members urging that they do not give up the fight. We all want to see all the unions act together, as we know that we are stronger when this happens, but this can not be a pretext for all the unions giving up because one union has given up.
It's not the first time that one union has jumped ship on a dispute, and this has not prevented the others carrying on and winning. When ASLEF ducked out of the fight over PPP in 2001, RMT went ahead with planned strike action, and the result was the 'jobs for life' agreement.

Where does this leave the dispute over stations jobs?
We suffered a setback when RMT decided that it could no longer sustain all-grades strikes against job cuts, and since then, it has relied on coinciding all-grades strikes over pay and Night Tube with stations action over stations job cuts. That had some reasonable success last year, when Night Tube strike action took place. But since the unions stopped striking about Night Tube, it has been noticeable that the intensity of the fightback over stations job cuts has dropped off too.
If we track the progress made over stations jobs (for example, real achievements over pay protection and other issues), there is a very clear pattern: we make progress during times when we are striking; then progress stops when we stop striking.
We are running out of time: Fit for the Future - Stations is being imposed in some areas in February and everywhere else in April. If we had built throughout last year for all-grades action over job cuts (in stations and in other grades), we would be in a stronger position now. If that was found to be completely impossible, stations members could have been encouraged to fight on our own in plenty of time before the imposition of Fit for the Future.
Now we find ourselves on the eve of major job cuts, with the prospect that strike action over pay and Night Tube might not go ahead. At the very least, stations action should still go ahead. But it all has the feeling of too little too late.
We have the promise of a ‘week of action’ by station staff in February after the company imposes Fit for the Future. Why wait til the week it is imposed? And why not tell us what action we’re expected to take? When we get this information, we can organise for it and input into the strategy.

What are we fighting for?
We can revive this fight by keeping our nerve, and by being clearer about what it is that we are fighting for. The aim of 'an acceptable deal' obscures the issues. We want: job cuts stopped or reduced; new trains to have drivers and permanent drivers' cabs; frameworks to remain as agreements rather than imposed diktats; no worsening in anti-social hours; staff not disciplining their colleagues; seated roles to be retained on stations; and more.
Bullet points showing ‘what do we want?’ and ‘why are we on strike?’ help ensure that everyone is clear why we’re taking action, and can help us to move on positively rather than appearing to fight a losing battle.

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Strikes are on: build, and push for more!

Published on: Tue, 12/01/2016 - 08:53

Aslef, RMT, and Unite have named strikes for 26-27 January, 15-16 February, and 17-18 February. Each strike is for 24 hours, commencing on the evening of the first day and continuing until the following evening. TSSA's leadership is meeting tomorrow and may join the action.

These strikes are part of the ongoing dispute over pay, terms and conditions, and the "Night Tube" settlement. The company's offer, tabled in November, is pretty shoddy, for reasons we set out at the time.

That three unions have returned to battle stations after months of quiet is a hugely positive and welcome development. We have to make these strikes count: the shutdown of the network needs to be total, picket lines need to be well supported and vibrant, engaging with the public to explain that, contrary to tabloid myths, we're not simply striking for more money but for a decent settlement on terms and conditions that protects our work/life balance.

RMT, which has a live station-grades-only mandate for action on "Fit for the Future", also needs to use that mandate to call further strikes on this issue as soon as possible. Tubeworker likes the idea of striking for a sustained period over the days around the proposed "Fit for the Future" imposition on 7 February.

While joint union action will have an increased impact, 24-hour strikes will have a limited effect. While our immediate energies need to be focused on making our next strike as solid as possible, we also need to keep in mind that we need to step up our action.

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Night Tube Drivers: External Adverts or Internal Promotion?

Published on: Thu, 24/12/2015 - 09:53

So the company is advertising part-time Night Tube drivers' jobs. Here at Tubeworker, we like to see new jobs created and to see staff getting the opportunity to work reduced hours. And if Night Tube duties are done by part-timers who want to work those hours, then there will be no need for full-timers to work any extra night turns.

But why are these jobs being advertised to the public rather than to existing staff first?! Part-time station staff have little enough opportunity for promotion as it is. And displaced part-time SAMFs may prefer to get a job as a driver than to work in a CSA role that they worked hard to get out of!

The unions have done well to knock back Night Tube until we have an acceptable agreememt as to how to staff it. But we are in danger of management using the opportunity of the current stand-off to take steps that disadvantage our staff.

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New Contract Threat

Published on: Mon, 14/12/2015 - 18:02

LU has indicated it may rush to impose new contract on station staff, particularly in the areas where it wants to launch "Fit for the Future" first (King's Cross, and the east end of the Central Line).

It seems the company has grown tired of pretending it's interested in negotiating constructively with unions and plans to bulldoze its plans through.

A provocation of this kind needs a decisive response. It's time to strike.

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Poor Pay Proposal

Published on: Wed, 25/11/2015 - 14:13

So, with Night Tube in the long grass, LUL has sent us a repackaged offer on pay. Here are a few reasons why it is rubbish:

  • Its closeness to the RPI increase means it contains very little increase in real terms.
  • Despite the flat-rate element meaning it is a higher percentage rise for lower-paid grades in the first year (only), those lower-paid grades are still left struggling given the astronomical cost of living in London.
  • National Insurance rules change in April, with us paying 1% more (and the employer paying less). So that's the pay rise wiped out, making it a pay cut in real terms.
  • A four-year deal means no more progress in pay or working conditions - for example, any reduction in working hours - for the full four years.
  • And a four-year deal also means four years of pay peace for the company, clearing their desks for yet more attacks on staffing levels, working conditions and pensions.
  • Managers are giving themselves far bigger pay rises than the one they are offering us.
  • Meanwhile, our claim for a 32-hour, 4-day week is dismissed yet again. And the B-plan of compressing hours means excessively long shifts and undermining agreements by letting individuals opt to alter them.
  • "Long term commitment to improving work life balance" is waffle - we know from years of bitter experience that "commitments" that contain no detail and no actual commitments never come to anything.

While the company says that this is a 'final offer', it is only the final offer if we let it be! If we are prepared to fight for more, and better, it won't be so final after all.

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Voluntary Severance and its Discontents

Published on: Tue, 03/11/2015 - 21:49

Hundreds of station staff have signed up to take voluntary severance (VS).

The VS scheme was one of the means by which LU claimed it was softening the blow of the "Fit for the Future" job cuts, arguing that, while nearly 1,000 jobs would be cut, at least no-one was actually being sacked. While technically true, and while voluntary redundancies are preferable to compulsory ones, many workers, faced with a regrading and displacement process none of us asked for, did feel like they were effectively being forced out of their jobs.

Tubeworker has always argued that VS schemes are bribes to sell our jobs. LU uses VS to cut staffing levels; once someone goes on severance, that job is gone. We argued that our unions should have done more to persuade members not to take the offer.

But many did, with the company promising them they would be allowed to go in early 2016, when "Fit for the Future" was implemented. Understandably, many started making plans for their post-LU lives.

However, our strikes have set back the implementation of "Fit for the Future", with the company now saying there may not be an across-the-board implementation at all, but a staggered introduction rolled out in different places at different times. Information about when VSers will actually be allowed to go has become vaguer and vaguer, with rumours now abounding that some may be kept on until mid-2016. Naturally, workers feel lied to and betrayed.

For those of us who opposed the VS scheme in the first place, and who are glad that "Fit for the Future" implementation has been complicated and delayed, we're caught between natural sympathy for our colleagues who were planning a life after the Tube, and who expected to be better treated after decades of service to LU, and not wanting to accelerate what is, ultimately, a savage job cuts programme. So what should our unions demand?

The fact that LU is having to keep the VSers on longer than expected shows clearly that those jobs are needed. If they were just deadwood that LU could do without, why not let them go immediately? By having to delay, the company is proving the unions' point: it is not possible to run the network on the bare-bones staffing levels it's proposing.

VS commitments must be honoured, and workers who have given many years to the company should be treated with more respect. They should be allowed to go when the company told them they could go. But they should be replaced! Unions should use the delay in "Fit for the Future" implementation to reinvigorate our fight against job cut and demand increases, not reduction, in the staffing level. Then VSers could leave knowing that they're leaving behind them jobs that will remain available to future generations of workers.

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32, not 36!

Published on: Tue, 03/11/2015 - 21:26

RMT has been polling its driver members in a referendum to see if they want union negotiators to discuss the possibility of amending the drivers' framework to facilitate the trial of a four-day, 36-hour week in two depots. The results are due back this week.

The trial would necessitate increasing the maximum time spent on the front of a train (currently 4 hours 15 minutes).

Tubeworker supporters have been voting no. A four-day week is a great aspiration, but it should be based on reducing working time, not increasing it. Increases in the time spent on the front of a train might not seem like a lot on paper, but in practise it will make a massive difference to fatigue levels. Many of the rights in the framework were won through hard-fought strikes and they should not be traded away.

Let's keep fighting for a four-day, 32-hour week!

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