Tubeworker's blog

French metro workers strike Tubeworker Mon, 16/09/2019 - 13:57

This report on the Paris metro workers’ strike appeared in the newspaper of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) on 18 September and was translated from the French by Luke Neal.


A strike on RATP (the Paris metro) has got the the ball rolling in the fight against pension reforms in France. After 12 years of lethargy - at least on the surface - the strike has made a smashing comeback in Parisian transport: 100% of strikers on the metro, 60% on buses and in maintenance workshops. The capital was paralysed on Friday 13 September. Well dug, you old mole!

Noise ballot success Tubeworker Tue, 10/09/2019 - 16:08

RMT Drivers on the Northern, Central, Victoria and Jubilee lines have returned a yes vote for action short of strike due to excessive track noise.

Tubeworker congratulates the workers who voted YES and bizarrely those who voted NO. Without them the ballot would not have made it over the ridiculous 50% threshold that the Trade Union Act imposes on unions.

Tube workers against the coup! Tubeworker Wed, 04/09/2019 - 13:56

As chaos in Parliament mounts, workers must take to the streets to protest against Boris Johnson's undemocratic manoeuvring and plans for a no-deal Brexit.

As transport workers in London, we have bitter experience of having Boris as a boss, experiencing his blatant lies about ticket office closures and the vicious cuts regime TfL and LU bosses pursued under his mayoralty.

RMT suspends strikes on Vic and Central Tubeworker Wed, 04/09/2019 - 13:48

RMT has suspended a drivers' strike planned for today on the Victoria and Central Lines.

The company has budged in talks at Acas, offering some concessions. On the Victoria Line, where issues related to overbearing managers pushing drivers around, the company has committed to a series of workshops to try to improve relations. As the dispute is still live, the union can go back to Acas, and potentially reinstate action, if things don't improve on the ground.

Driverless Nightmare Tubeworker Sat, 31/08/2019 - 14:02

Lest we forget, while we continue our day-to-day battles with management, behind the scenes they continue to prepare to introduce driverless trains.

And in case anyone believes the hype that they are 'safe', read this report of a toddler being separated from his mum on a driverless Metro train in Sydney last week.

Greening the Tube? Tubeworker Thu, 29/08/2019 - 22:41

According to LU's own figures, the company produces 585,000 tones of CO2 emissions per year. To offset that, you'd need to plant 26,000,000 trees.

Our bosses' solution to this? Encourage staff to recycle and turn out the lights.

Fine, we should all try our best not to be wasteful, but let's be honest here: those individual behavioural changes simply don't address the scale of the problem.

Take action against lone working! Tubeworker 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!

Drivers: vote yes for action over noise levels! Tubeworker Tue, 27/08/2019 - 17:45

RMT is balloting all driver members, including Night Tube drivers, on the Jubilee, Central, Northern and Victoria lines, for industrial action against excessive noise levels, which have become intolerable.

The problem is caused by the "Pandrol Vanguard" system LU installed to reduce track noise for people living above and next to the tracks; fair enough, except the system has the effect of forcing the noise into the train itself, leading to thunderous levels of noise in the driver's cab (and, indeed, in the carriages).

Turdgate! Tubeworker Tue, 27/08/2019 - 17:37

You come to expect the unexpected working on the Tube; we see all sorts and we raise one eyebrow and carry on. But one Friday morning incident in August has pushed our levels of incredulity to the extreme.

Strike dates adjusted on Victoria and Central lines Tubeworker Thu, 22/08/2019 - 14:54

The dates for the Central and Victoria Line strikes have been adjusted to 3-4 September (20:00 to 20:00), after reps and activists argued that the initial dates (29-30 August) would be less impactful.

Although altering dates after initially announcing them can be a bit of a messy business, it seems like the new dates will be more effective.

It’s a good lesson in why meetings of rank-and-file reps and activists should be the forum for making these decisions in the first place.

All out on the Vic and Central!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 18/08/2019 - 22:22

Drivers on the Victoria and Central Lines are ready for action, with a strike due from 20:00 on Thursday 29 August to 20:00 on Friday 30 August. This will affect services all day on Friday.

These disputes follow a pattern we’ve seen elsewhere on the combine recently, including on the Piccadilly Line, where drivers struck last year. Depot bosses are throwing their weight around, misapplying and breaching company procedure, and generally treating drivers in an authoritarian and heavy-handed way.

Ask For More Cleaners!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 03/08/2019 - 09:43

ABM claims that its latest job-cutting scheme is actually just flexibility in allocating resources. This has seen even some large and busy stations left with just one cleaner on duty. The company says that station staff can ask for more cleaners on your station, but we are not sure that this is sufficiently widely known.

So, if you need an extra cleaner on your station, ask for one (or more!). If there is an event coming up, or the weather forecast is worrying you, or the place could really do with a tidy-up, ask.

Vic Line drivers vote for strikes

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 30/07/2019 - 14:28

Congratulations to RMT drivers on the Victoria Line, who’ve returned a 100% vote for strikes on a 62% turnout.

Like drivers on many lines, Vic Line drivers face a management that frequently throws its weight around, riding roughshod over agreements and abusing procedure.

Now RMT must name impactful action to make sure management get the message.

New brass

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 29/07/2019 - 18:45

LU will have a new Managing Director from November 2019, as Andy Lord joins the company.

His previous role was as Executive Vice President of Menzies Aviation, a logistics firm serving the aviation sector. Prior to that, he worked at British Airways for 25, and he’s also a Non-Executive Director for Defence Equipment and Support, which is a trading entity set up by the Ministry of Defence to handle the procurement and transpiration of military vehicles such as fighter jets, battleships, and submarines.

Plenty of experience working on public railways, then.

Ditch the tabards!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 25/07/2019 - 11:49

As London faces temperatures of up to 40°, some of our fears about the extreme discomfort caused by having to wear a thick red tabard are being realised.

This entirely unnecessary and uncomfortable addition to the station staff uniform serves no purpose. As we said at the time of its imposition, the issue isn’t staff “visibility”, but staff numbers. Dressing us in red vests can’t mask the fact that LU has cut staff numbers.

“Go it alone”?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 25/07/2019 - 11:16

Tubeworker isn’t linked to any one union on the job, and we argue consistently for unity and common action between all unions on LU.

That aspiration for unity means it’s always disappointing when one union puts out material attacking another in a way that’s divisive or even straightforwardly inaccurate. Robust criticism and debate about strategy and tactics is one thing; misleading workers about another union’s record is quite another.

Tampongate

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 23/07/2019 - 11:26

Did you know your period costs you less if you work in a head office building?

For those of us that need to purchase sanitary products whilst at work, it has come to light that machines provided in female staff toilets charge different rates depending on where you work.

For example, if you work at Palestra it costs 50p compared to on tube stations where the cost varies between £1 and £2.

Transformation ballot halted

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 23/07/2019 - 11:22

RMT’s ballot of workers in engineering, signals, and other departments to fight Transformation job cuts has been halted.

The result was due back on 16 July, but the union pulled the ballot before the announcement. The official reason is that RMT plans to expand the number of workers balloted.

Large ballots are difficult to win, but as the recent example from the fleet dispute against extended train prep shows, it can be done.

The ballot should be resumed as soon as possible.

Support the 20 September climate strike!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 23/07/2019 - 11:02

School students who have been striking to demand radical action on climate change have issued a call for workers to join them in their next strike on 20 September.

Climate change is one of the most serious issues facing our society. Scientists calculate that we now have around a decade to take action to avert ecological catastrophe. Failure to do this could lead to droughts, floods, extreme heat, food scarcity, and more, affecting millions of people.

Scorecard stress

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 18/07/2019 - 13:24

London Underground has come up with another scorecard measure to punish station staff for the lack of staff.

The old measure, 'gateline availability', has been replaced with 'gateline integrity'. LU used to calculate an average of the time that all gates were in full service. It now calculates a score for each individual gate.

Safety over speed

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 18/07/2019 - 13:23

At Farringdon, trains driven in ATO leave the station at 15mph. Trains reach 30mph within station limits. A faster line speed means a more frequent service, which is London Underground's priority.

Drivers are asking for trains to pull in and out of crowded stations like Farringdon at a slower speed to minimise accidents arising from overcrowded platforms.

Safety has to take priority over the frequency of the service.

Gone away, won’t pay?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 18/07/2019 - 13:21

Cleaning agency APG no longer exists. APG's agency cleaners have been transferred to the main contractor, ABM.

That sounds good until you hear that APG neglected to pay its workers outstanding holiday pay before it disbanded. Cleaners are owed hundreds of pounds. ABM says, 'It's nothing to do with us. Cleaners need to speak to APG'. But APG has gone!

So where is a cleaner to turn? To the RMT of course! Sub-contracted companies and agencies dodge paying cleaners' wages too easily. Cleaners need to be directly employed by LU.

Action needed over noise levels

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 11:43

RMT is considering a ballot of driver members on five lines - Victoria, Central, Northern, Jubilee, and Piccadilly - over noise levels.

LU has installed “Pandrol Vanguard” technology on the tracks in an attempt to reduce train noise at street level... with the effect that noise is forced into the cab and cars, affecting drivers and passengers.

This fix is not good enough. We want a proper engineering solution, and in the meantime a temporary speed restriction in place over affected areas to reduce noise.

Marylebone workers win on mess room

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 10:51

Local management at Marylebone had been planning to force staff to stop using the ex-ticket office mess room as a mess facility. (We previously reported on this here.)

There’s no real justification for this decision; it seemed to simply be motivated by management wanting to throw its weight around. Local reps mounted a local campaign, escalated the issue through the machinery, and brought a motion to their branch proposing a dispute if management didn’t back down.

Too Hot to Handle

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 10:01

Alarmed that the temperature could rise above twenty degrees, last Friday evening, Network Rail announced that on Saturday there would be a speed restriction of 20mph all the way from Queen's Park to Bushey. After all, the rails might buckle in the oven-like temperatures.

Problem is: management didn't bother amending Bakerloo running times at all. Somehow, they expected trains to run to time without being allowed to run to time.

Drivers knew that this would rapidly turn into a fiasco. And so it came to pass. By Saturday midday, the job was up the wall.

Keep the Learning Zone Open!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 02/07/2019 - 07:35

TfL likes to boast about its Learning Zone, about how it has given staff the opportunity to enhance our skills and to overcome the barriers presented to dylexic and other neurodivergent people. It's so proud of the facility that ... it's planning to close it.

Yes, the company can afford massive salaries for the big cheeses, numerous over-the-top contractor fees, but not a really valuable education service that costs the equivalent of such one-and-a-half staff.

Cash for Access?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 01/07/2019 - 08:57

It's lovely to see the sparkling new improved westbound access ramp at South Woodford station. We are all in favour of improved access for mobility-impared people and people encumbered with luggage or buggies.

Shame that in its wisdom, LUL has installed BANK CARD ONLY ticket machines in the new entrance, forcing any mobility-impared people to have to make an arduous trip via a deep subway over to the eastbound booking hall and back again if they want or need to pay with cash. This assumes of course that the machines on the eastbound are actually in working order.

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