Change to drivers' agreement penalises junior drivers

Published on: Tue, 07/11/2017 - 11:01

A change has been made to the Train Operators Professional Agreement (Topra). It used to be that any driver who had safety related incidents on a manual line, and who had been on the job two years, had an option of moving to an automatic line. Management and Aslef decided they wanted to increase this to five years and, despite RMT protestations, it has occurred.

Of course, driving a train is an important and skilled job, but it doesn't take five years to master so why this move was made is unclear. Much like the changes in the 2009 agreement, also pushed through by Aslef, it is junior drivers who lose out, and management who make the savings.

There is another concern with this. Are we wise arguing for such agreements that suggest we believe a manual line takes less skill to drive than an automatic line? The same thing happened with the Four Day Week trial. It didn't happen on a manual line because there was a concern about fatigue causing safety incidents. But when it is the unions saying that, what message is being put out?

As workers and union members, it is important we know what our agreements say, and be aware of any changes that may be negotiated. These documents belong to us and we should ensure that our reps lets us know what is happening, and understand what the majority opinion is before further changes that might take place.

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Tripping Up

Published on: Fri, 28/08/2009 - 13:35

There were extraordinary goings-on on the Bakerloo last weekend, as management decided that they could dispense with the small matter of tripcock safety. Yes, our intrepid bosses decided that a train that failed its tripcock test could remain in service. In other words, a train could stay in service even if it might not get automatically stopped if it passed a signal at danger.

Funny thing is, as Kevin Dobinson recently discovered, drivers who fall short of the rules about these things get marched out of the door and down to the dole office. Managers, on the other hand, seem able to disregard the rules at will. More to the point, Kevin made a mistake; management did it deliberately.

And some people think that there is one rule for managers, another for the rest of us mere mortals. You don't say.

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Bakerloo drivers: Vote Yes and Yes!

Published on: Thu, 16/07/2009 - 11:27

RMT is to ballot drivers on the Bakerloo line for both strikes and action short of strikes to demand the reinstatement of Kevin Dobinson, sacked for an aggravated SPAD.

London Underground is trying to establish a regime where they will routinely sack anyone for even the smallest mistakes. They want us to live in fear during every working day.

Unless we defend workmates like Kevin, the company will succeed in establishing this harsh disciplinarian regime. So by defending Kevin, you are defending yourself. Bote Yes and Yes.

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Another Driver Sacked

Published on: Mon, 01/06/2009 - 13:28

Another driver has seen one mistake leave him out of work - this time, Bakerloo driver Kevin Dobinson.

You'd think management could accept that we all make mistakes occasionally, and that if someone puts their hands up to it and has mitigating circumstances, then a warning or re-training would be appropriate. But while the company certainly applies that approach to managers, it is an entirely different rule for the rest of us.

Kevin's workmates are signing a petition, hoping to persuade his appeal panel to reconsider his sacking. In the meantime, this case illustrates very well the culture of harshness and fear that management are creating on LUL, which RMT is challenging with its industrial action. A solid strike next week might also help persuade Kevin's appeal panel.

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Don't Sack Zak

Published on: Mon, 09/02/2009 - 20:54

Piccadilly Line drivers are anxiously awaiting the judgment in Zak Khan's appeal against dismissal, and preparing for industrial action should LUL management reject the appeal.

Zak had a SPAD, over-running the first semi on the way out of Boston Manor eastbound. Management have had the cheek to designate this an 'aggravated SPAD', because despite Zak's best efforts, it was hard for him to get through to them on their less-than-impressive communications systems. (Full details here.)

It is incredibly harsh for Zak to be sacked, and his sacking represents a serious stepping up of LUL's disciplinary regime. Does anyone think it is a coincidence that more drivers seem to be getting the sack since management noticed that they have a significant number of over-establishment drivers?! Funnily enough, station staff are noticing something similar.

That's why Piccadilly line drivers are willing to strike for Zak. We know that it's Zak this time, any of us next.


Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 12/02/2009 - 14:35

Zak's appeal has rescinded his sacking, but dipped him to CSA at Waterloo, with dismissal suspended for a year, and driver's ticket withdrawn.

His workmates' determination to fight has clearly pressured management into backing down to some extent, but this is still a very harsh punishment.

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At The Movies

Published on: Thu, 12/06/2008 - 10:07

You might have noticed that several stations now have moving-image adverts on a 10-foot-high screen on the platform wall. It's all thanks to cross-track projection (XTP).

You might also suspect that this could possibly distract the driver, or indeed the passengers, causing potential safety problems. But rest assured, LUL management have passed it as safe, so there's no need to worry.

Management carried out 'extensive trials and tests' on the Victoria line before extending it to other locations. We can not confirm rumours that this consisted of a DMT watching the screens at Euston for a whole 15 minutes. We might also note that Victoria line trains run automatically, whereas on other lines, the driver has a more 'hands-on' role and therefore the consequences of distraction might be more severe.

But why worry? the danger of distraction is supposed to be dealt with by the projector switching off as the train arrives at the platform. Unfortunately, this 'failsafe' mechanism has repeatedly failed to be safe.

Why do management spend so many hours and flatten so many rainforests in pursuit of the golden prize of 'SPAD reduction', while taking risks with a system which could well cause SPADs? Anything to do with the advertising fees? You think?

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Acton Town Drivers To Ballot For Strikes

Published on: Fri, 25/04/2008 - 07:12

Drivers at Bollo House (Acton Town) have had enough of the management regime in their depot and have asked RMT to ballot them for strike action.

The problems have been going on for some time now, and drivers' patience is exhausted. Management have clamped down on sickness and SPADs, and while disciplinaries used to be an annual event, they are now dished out like confetti.

Management are also routinely putting drivers in a position where you end up going over your 4 hours 15 minutes driving time - and thus breaking Framework 5.3 - by sending drivers on trips that they know will take them over the time.

It is open season on Picc drivers - and will continue to be unless we fight back. That fightback is now starting with the strike ballot. We will be unnecessarily weak if only half the line strikes, so it would be good to see Arnos drivers join in. It's not like they are short of issues to be naffed off about too!

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Peripheral Paintwork

Published on: Wed, 12/12/2007 - 00:00

The litany of bizarre 'SPAD reduction' gimmicks continues unabated, with the Northern Line now getting in on the act. Apparently, management seriously believe that painting the lower part of trainstops red will help prevent drivers starting up against red signals.

Management claim that the purpose is to provide 'peripheral information' to drivers. But don't peripheral objects painted in a bright, reflective colour distract your attention from the main thing you are supposed to be paying attention to?

No wonder management produced an SRCC without bothering to consult union reps.

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Off Their Rockers?

Published on: Tue, 30/10/2007 - 19:31

Tubeworker has had cause to comment on many previous occasions about management's somewhat eccentric schemes for reducing SPADs. But this one really takes the biscuit ... or some form of confectionary anyway.

Bakerloo management had some sticks of rock produced, with 'Bakerloo' running through them, and a nice reminder message about SPADs on the wrapper. Yes, really.

Of course, they then had to remind drivers not to actually eat them in the cab, as it might cause a sugar rush and ruin their concentration, thus causing ... SPADs. So their latest gimmick will remind you to not drive through a red, but only when you're not actually driving a train.

Apparently, managers actually get paid for coming up with nonsense like this. More than we do, in fact.

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Food In The Cab

Published on: Tue, 02/10/2007 - 04:42

We think management may be planning to install minibars in drivers' cabs. Stands to reason, since their 'top form' booklet recommends having the following with you in the cab - water, orange juice, coffee or tea, bananas, low-fat low-sugar cereal bars, cheese/tuna/turkey/salmon/peanut butter wholemeal bread sandwiches, nuts and raisins, and dried fruit. Blimey. Not that it specifies when you should eat these things - perhaps as you are motoring along? or grab a mouthful in between closing the doors and moving off?

We also have the usual pearls of wisdom about avoiding tiredness by getting a good night's sleep (yes, really), and the Sergeant-Major-like order, 'Get some exercise' - perhaps they will fit a multi-gym in the cab alongside the minibar.

Victoria line drivers will be especially reassured to know that LUL wants you to "Spend as much time outdoors as you can" because "Lack of daylight increases the brain hormone that makes you sleepy."

If management followed the advice in their own booklet, they would: cut the working week, schedule more breaks, ensure the availability of healthy refreshments along the route, make rosters less anti-social, and provide leisure facilities for staff. But no matter how many times Tubeworker reads the booklet, we can find no announcement that LUL intends to do any of this.

And guess what? Yes, this is another part of the company's 'strategy' to reduce SPADs.

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