Service control

Signal Operators Bite Back

Published on: Thu, 18/10/2018 - 14:45

When fleas infested Rickmansworth signal cabin, operators refused to work in there.

Suffice to say, faced with this defiance, management soon got the problem cleaned up.

A fine example to us all. We don't have to suffer discomfort and possible ill-health just because management can't manage to keep our workplaces free of creepy crawlies. Remember your right to refuse!

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Return of the Rainbow?

Published on: Fri, 03/11/2017 - 10:24

Remember Rainbow? Managers at their keyboards spotting imaginary 'patterns' in your sickness absence so they can issue warnings to staff who haven't actually triggered the Attendance procedure. Well, it appears to have reappeared.

The Rainbow has been spotted recently over some Piccadilly line traincrew depots, Central line stations and in service control. If you spot it in your area, get on to your union rep straightaway.

At the end of this Rainbow is a crock ... but not of gold.

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Wot No Control Staff

Published on: Thu, 23/02/2017 - 08:50

A new manager comes in, wants to make a name for himself, clamps down on overtime, interferes with established ways of ensuring coverage, and guess what happens?

Yup. Not enough control staff to run the subsurface and Piccadilly lines last night. No problems for our intrepid new guvnor: the control room equipment can run itself! No, it can't. Still no problem: the staff can work through their meal reliefs. Er, no they can't.

Result: job up wall.

Management managed to attribute this to 'industrial action' and then 'absence of control staff'. Might we suggest that 'shortage of staff' and 'shortcomings of management' might be more accurate?

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Waterloo & City Line strikers speak out

Published on: Mon, 12/10/2015 - 20:17

Service controllers on the Waterloo and City Line on London Underground (LU) have been fighting for regrading to reflect the responsible nature of their work. They struck from 28-30 September. One of the activists spoke to Tubeworker.

The dispute goes back to 2006/7, when the signalling for the line was moved to a new control centre. That meant we had more responsibilities, and were working with new equipment. Previously we'd been signallers, now we were doing controllers' work – but LU didn't upgrade us. We were told we'd be moved up to “Controller 1”, the lowest grade of controller. But in 2008, the company reneged, saying that the financial crisis meant they couldn't afford it!

The dispute has been ongoing ever since. Over the years there's been a steady stream of new procedures and technologies being introduced. We're doing work equivalent to the highest grade of controller, but we're still in a separate grade.

An offer was made to us last year to upgrade us if we worked additional Sundays. But at the last minute, the company informed us they'd pay for it by cutting jobs in another grade at our depot. We didn't want our promotion to come at the price of jobs elsewhere, so we refused.

We struck from 28-30 September, the first time we've taken action in the dispute. The strike was solid, but management kept the service running by drafting in hordes of managers to cover the work. It was really overkill. However, controllers from another depot who were asked to come in to cover the work refused to do so, which was positive.

We were directly attacked on the front page of the Evening Standard, in an article that bemoaned the fact that small numbers had voted in our strike ballot. We felt the attack was very personal, and that we were being picked on for working in a small workplace.

The managers who covered the work on our strike day were qualified on paper, but not used to working in our environment. If we take action again, we'd encourage other grades of staff, particularly drivers, to call up and make sure that whoever's running the line is properly trained and competent.

We're looking to take more action towards the end of the year, and are exploring different forms of industrial action.

What's happening to us is part of a wider picture. London Underground is cutting staff in a variety of areas, and our experiences – of essentially being promoted to more responsible roles, involving more work, without that being reflected in our pay – mirror what's currently happening to station staff. They've picked on us particularly because we're a small unit, but if we can win our fight for justice it might inspire other grades in other areas.

The mood in the workplace is extremely angry. To make sure that anger fuels a resolve to continue fighting, we need continued communication from the union, and regular updates from talks and negotiations so we can decide the best way forward for our dispute.

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W&C Service Controllers Strike Back

Published on: Mon, 21/09/2015 - 13:40

Waterloo and City line service controllers will strike for 48 hours next week in their fight to have their job uprated.

W&C controllers are paid less than every other service controller on the job - they have a grade all to themselves so that the company can pay them five grand less than others. They are even paid less than some signal operators.

This is despite the fact that their job includes signal operations, line control and line information, and despite new equipment being installed in their control room.

LUL offered to uprate them last year, but when they found out that this would be at the cost of jobs in other grades in the depot, they refused to accept.

These services controllers have shown solidarity with other grades, so let's all show solidarity with them.

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Strike Threat Forces Management to Talk Pay Rise

Published on: Mon, 22/12/2014 - 19:08

For nearly two years, Waterloo & City line service control staff have been refusing overtime in pursuit of their entirely justified claim for higher pay to reflect the complexity of their work. Nothing doing. Management didn't care.

So they stepped it up. Balloted for strike action. Got a 100% Yes vote. Put on a 48-hour strike.

And guess what? Management came running to ACAS and have now agreed a review which should lead to a pay enhancement.

The lesson is obvious: if we want to win, we must show willing to take action.

But there is a but ... If we take our eye off the ball now, the "review" could end up being a damp squib, or even a Trojan horse for attacks on pay and conditions. It is essential that the momentum is maintained and that management understand that unless the review delivers what we want, that strike action will be back on.

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Random Testing

Published on: Mon, 01/04/2013 - 14:21

Neasden signals flashed like Xmas lights for eight months, until an RMT industrial action threat forced LU and Thales to respond.

But new software didn't fix it. Signallers are still clearing one route only for another signal to turn to danger - potentially causing drivers to SPAD.

Thales only randomly tests some routes . LU should force Thales to test every route. Safety is as stake! We’ll need to carry out our threatened strike to sort this for good! 

Tubeworker topics

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Neasden Depot: Going Up the Wrong Road

Published on: Sat, 05/01/2013 - 16:43

Since Thales installed new software last August, there have been signalling irregularities at Neasden Met depot. You clear one road, and the system clears another one instead!

This has meant that service control can not use four of the depot roads for long routes, and have to set routes bit by bit instead. It's a pain in the rear, but it is also potentially dangerous.

After constant nagging by union reps, the problems were supposed to be fixed this weekend. But then Thales discovered that the assurance paperwork has not been done, and they don't have enough time to fix everything, apparently. So we're still stuck with it.

Well, our patience has run out. It's time for the unions to set a deadline and take action to force the hand of LUL management to make their contractor deliver.

Tubeworker topics

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Service Control Win!

Published on: Thu, 28/06/2012 - 15:28

Service control workers have won some important demands for job security. Management intended to use the opening of the new Hammersmith Service Control Centre in 2015 as a pretext to keep the staff they wanted and ditch those they did not, and to reshape the service control function in a way that undermines effective trade unionism. RMT demanded – and won - protection of career paths, lifetime protection of earnings and union agreement to staff movements. Service control staff will now keep their rate of pay (and pension) permanently even if they are displaced into a lower grade.

A service control RMT rep told us, “Service control workers across London Underground have shown our solidarity and support to each other by gaining a tremendous victory against hostile LU management, in winning what must be a once-in-a-lifetime guarantee of earnings protection. There can be no doubt that London Underground saw no alternative but to give in to our demands when they realised that their managers could not the skilled jobs that members do on a daily basis when we announced a a three-day strike.”

RMT lost a lot of ground in service control after messing up the 35-hour week and restructuring in 2005/06. This win - achieved by a willingness to take more than a token 24-hour strike, and a refusal to fall for management's spin - should be a big step forward to getting service control better unionised, active and militant again.

Tubeworker topics

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Service Control: A Fighting Force!

Published on: Sun, 22/04/2012 - 17:28

LU RMT Service Control workers are urging ‘Vote Yes!’ in the current ballot for strike action.

The issues in dispute include the new Hammersmith Service Control Centre, which will cut up to 200 jobs, without guaranteed protected earnings. Tubeworker is pleased we’re taking action although the new centre is years away. Better to fight while we can still win!

Another issue is that LU have not stuck to a 2005 agreement to pay SO3 salary to Reserve Service Operators. The company cannot pick and choose whether to pay us according to agreements!

Also, LU have denied ex-apprentices the career they have trained for. Some are CSAs. Others are on rolling, six month contracts with service control. LU should employ these staff, who are definitely needed, on permanent contracts. We need to stop insecure, temporary contracts creeping into the LU workforce.

These issues have combined as LU has deteriorated industrial relations with RMT by not negotiating seriously. So we’re reminding LU: take us seriously as we have the power to disrupt your service!

On Service control, we have industrial strength most workers would kill for. For too long we’ve been divided into different unions. Plus, the RMT lost members and good will for agreeing the 2006 Professional Service Control Agreement with LU when we had voted to strike against it. We’ve had to rebuild our confidence and organisation. This dispute is bringing us together as a fighting force, capable of winning over the issues we care about.

Tubeworker topics

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