Staffing Levels

Fight for workers' control of shift allocation

Published on: Thu, 26/03/2020 - 15:56

With a massively reduced service in place, many workers are asking whether the company's instruction for all staff who are not self-isolating or off sick to report for duty as normal really makes sense. Having more staff than necessary on a station or at a depot makes distancing harder. It puts drivers, station staff, and engineers are greater risk than office staff, who are largely able to work from home.

Workers' control of shift allocation could ensure that staff are rostered as necessary to guarantee the safe running of the service, but in a way that keeps the number of staff who have to travel into work each day to a minimum, and maximises time off - in effect, a reduction in the working week.

There's already a precedent on the job for workers' control of shift allocation, via "syndicates" (aka "mafias") in train depots. Extending that principle to other parts of the job, so the staff actually working the shifts could oversee and plan the allocation, and agreeing a reduced working week for the duration of the pandemic, is an urgent necessity.

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Give and take?

Published on: Thu, 27/02/2020 - 14:46

A new roster is due at Oxford Circus on 29 March, due to the creation of an additional CSA position. That new job is the result of a long fight by unions locally to increase the staffing level; RMT members on Bakerloo South called strikes over the issue in December 2018 and January 2019, which were subsequently suspended when management promised a staffing review.

The new job is an outcome of that review – short of what union reps demanded, but a small step forward nonetheless.

Following union pressure, similar staffing reviews have taken place elsewhere, including on the Northern Edgware cover group, where management have agreed to add three new jobs (two Night Tube CSAs and one part-time CSS).

But all is not rosy in the garden. For every area where union pressure has forced management to create new jobs, there seems to be a rogue Area Manager looking to cut them. At Chancery Lane/St. Paul’s, the AM has decided, entirely unilaterally, to delete two CSS positions and replace them with one additional CSM position, leading to a net reduction in head count and forcibly displacing the CSSs whose positions the AM appears to think aren’t required.

RMT’s new “Justice for Station Staff” campaign, one of the demands of which is for a comprehensive staffing review across the job to increase staffing levels, is sorely needed!

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Sodexo plans cuts

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 14:11

Sodexo, the outsourcing giant which has a contract with LU to provide catering services in staff canteens, is planning a restructure which could see 18 jobs slashed. The proposed reductions would see the staff canteen at Stonebridge Park fleet depot reduced to a single member of staff!

RMT activists are planning a fightback. Some branches are already making links with other unions organising Sodexo workers, including the United Voices of the World. UVW members working for Sodexo on a contract for the Imperial NHS Trust recently won direct employment following a campaign of strikes.

This shows that outsourcing can be beaten; our aim should be to not only defeat Sodexo's planned cuts, but win direct employment for canteen workers.

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No displacements on stations!

Published on: Fri, 31/01/2020 - 14:31

There’s a roster redesign underway at Bank... four new full-time CSA positions are being created.

Great! Or so you’d think... turns out local management plan to pay for this by deleting six positions from the part-time CSA establishment, three of which are vacant. As for the other three, the staff have been told they’ll be displaced! This is another case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Part-time staff shouldn’t be forced to move against their will. If their positions do end up being reorganised, they should stay on at their location over establishment.

Union reps are on the case and the displacements will he fought.

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Justice for Station Staff!

Published on: Tue, 14/01/2020 - 22:50

RMT is now planning a new “Justice for Station Staff” campaign, bringing together a small, focused number of key issues affecting station workers into a single fight back. These issues include ending lone working; reversing or resisting two-tier workforce models (within the CSA grade, and the new proposal to create a new grade in the revenue department); demanding parity with drivers for Boxing Day payments; and auditing staffing levels and places of safety across the job to mitigate the risk of workplace violence.

Tubeworker fully supports the idea of a new campaign for station workers’ rights. This can also be tied in with the RMT’s existing “Staff Our Stations” campaigns, which up to now has mainly focused on staffing levels at mainline stations. A vibrant campaign of propaganda around these issues, alongside meetings, rallies, protests, and other actions, should build towards an industrial action ballot if LU doesn’t meet our demands.

We should also put demands around work/life balance, including for a 32-hour week, as part of this campaign if we end up not achieving these demands via a wider fight on LU pay.

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Staffing reviews delayed... time to step up the fight

Published on: Tue, 10/12/2019 - 15:52

Almost exactly a year ago, station staff on the Bakerloo South group had just voted for industrial action to address issues around uncovered duties and short staffing.

Strikes were called in December and January, and later suspended after LU committed to filling all vacancies; covering all duties; and conducting a staffing review across the group to identify possible needs for additional jobs.

This agreement was later extended to a number of other station groups, including District Centre, where RMT members also balloted for action.

A year on, and the staffing reviews on these areas still have not produced definitive outcomes. There is a suggestion that one or two additional jobs may be created on Bakerloo South, possibly sometime in January, but no concrete timeframe for this, and with the suggestion that increases may be offset by getting rid of a part-time CSS position at Piccadilly Circus. On District Centre, there hasn't been vague indications so much as radio silence.

It's hard not to conclude that management simply haven't taken these processes seriously. The procrastination over these local staffing reviews are part of the reason why Tubeworker believes a network-wide dispute over stations issues, and most centrally issues around short and understaffing, is now necessary, and why we're pleased to see the RMT move in that direction. It appears reviews arising from local disputes will simply be kicked into the long grass, so we need to up the ante.

Let's ballot network-wide in 2020 and fight for increased staffing levels on stations, an end to lone working, and more.

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Fightback needed on station staffing

Published on: Fri, 01/11/2019 - 19:46

The RMT London Transport Regional Council on 31 October voted for a network-wide dispute and strike ballot on the issue of staffing on stations.

A number of recent incidents, including violent assaults on staff at the east end of the District Line, highlight the problems caused by lone working and short staffing. Now rumours abound that LU plans to cut jobs in the revenue department, either by “filling” Revenue Control Inspector vacancies with secondees, without paying them any extra (thereby effectively cutting the RCI jobs), or as part of a pan-TfL consolidation of revenue jobs.

Every station worker will be familiar with the problems caused by lack of numbers. In the last year, there have been local disputes on Bakerloo South and District Centre over uncovered duties, and at Heathrow, over lone working on Night Tube. We must fight for an increased staffing level, not LU’s non-solution of deploying TfL surface transport staff to our stations.

If this means balloting station staff for strikes on these issues in parallel with an all-grades ballot on pay and conditions, so be it.

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“20 additional colleagues”?

Published on: Wed, 02/10/2019 - 16:11

An LU Employee Bulletin announces that, to combat workplace violence and antisocial behaviour on the east end of the District Line, LU will be providing “20 additional colleagues”.

Good news, you might think. An acknowledgement that lone working and understaffing are the fundamental problems. But alas, the reality is not so encouraging.

These “colleagues” aren’t additional LU station staff, but staff drafted in from TfL’s Surface Transport department – workers who deal with taxi enforcement and revenue issues on buses. They are not trained or licensed to work on LU stations. They have no ability to intervene in any safety or security issue that takes place on the station.

LU aren’t even putting a sticking plaster on a gaping wound… they’re rubbing salt in it.

They’re also putting the Surface Transport workers, who are fellow transport workers and trade unionists, in an extremely difficult position by using them in this way. They shouldn’t have to be drafted in to be spare bodies when what’s so clearly needed is additional LU staff.

LU’s woefully inadequate response to issues of antisocial behaviour and workplace violence on District East, at West Ham, and elsewhere, show that the bosses are more committed to their agenda of penny-pinching budgetary savings than to the safety and wellbeing of workers.

It’s time for action. We need strikes to win a safe staffing level.

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Action due in District East safety dispute

Published on: Thu, 26/09/2019 - 11:52

As Tubeworker went to press, industrial action short of strikes was due to begin on District East stations on 27 September.

Workers will refuse to attend incidents or detrain alone, and will work from a place of safety. The action came about after a spike in antisocial behaviour and staff assaults prompted the local union to launch a dispute.

The demand is clear: more staff, end lone working.

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Take action against lone working!

Published on: Tue, 27/08/2019 - 17:56

After lone working at the east end of the District Line led to a spike in staff assaults, local reps began renewed campaigning against lone working. RMT is now preparing to ballot station staff on the District East group for action to demand increased staffing levels.

Workers will vote on whether to take action-short-of-strikes, in the form of working from a place of safety when lone working, and refusing to detrain or attend incidents alone.

The ballot runs from 29 August to 12 September. If you work on District East, vote yes for action!

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