Engineering and fleet

"Roadmap" to pay parity at Ruislip Depot

Published on: Thu, 04/01/2018 - 13:31

RMT members at the ex-AP JNP Transplant Depot at Ruislip planned a work-to-rule from 20 December, in a dispute to win pay parity with Engineering Train Operators and others, who’d recently secured a 6.1% pay increase.

Perhaps knowing that an effective work-to-rule could stop the job, management came back to the table, and have agreed a “roadmap” to pay parity.

They’ll need holding to this commitment; industrial action may still be necessary in future.

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Engineering workers to vote on strikes against Scrooge bosses

Published on: Mon, 04/12/2017 - 15:01

LU gives additional payments to, or makes special arrangements for, workers in many departments for working over Christmas and Boxing Day. The unions' ongoing battles for fair working practises for drivers on Boxing Day are well known.

But Asset Operations workers have no additional payment or any other form of recognition or remuneration for working over these days, despite the obvious impact on work/life balance.

That's why RMT members in Asset Operations are balloting for strikes to demand parity with other workers who have access to additional payments or special arrangements for Christmas/Boxing Day working. Their strike ballot closes on 12 December.

We'd like to see RMT spread the (festive) spirit of this dispute to other areas. Station staff have to work Christmas Eve and Boxing Day without any additional payments, as do cleaners. All workers should have the right to social and family time at Christmas if they want it, so let's hope the Asset Operations dispute is the launchpad for a wider fight.

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Votes yes for action at Ruislip depot!

Published on: Mon, 20/11/2017 - 11:47

Train maintainers and maintenance and stores workers at Ruislip Transplant Depot are balloting for strikes to win pay parity.

Workers are being paid unequally for doing the same work, and Advanced Train Maintainers, Team Leaders, and Duty Maintenance Managers who do train prep work and sign off trains as fit for service are being denied the associated pay enhancement.

The RMT ballot begins on 21 November and closes on 6 December.

With LU looking to cut train prep times and possibly reduce jobs, winning this struggle for pay equality could put us on the front foot and knock management's plans.

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Stay Another Day?

Published on: Thu, 19/10/2017 - 09:33

What is it with management, thinking we can just add hours of (unpaid) travelling time to our working week just to suit their latest reshuffle?

They want to move some engineering staff from Cody Road (in E16) to Lillie Bridge, over in West Kensington. That's 50 minutes travelling time away.

While management hide in their bunkers pushing us around like plastic figures on a wartime map, we confidently expect our union reps to insist that this ridiculous move is stopped.

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Picc fleet workers vote for strikes

Published on: Tue, 04/07/2017 - 14:27

Fleet workers on the Picc have returned a thumping majority for strikes in their fight for permanent jobs, easily clearing the thresholds of the Trade Union Act.

144 workers were balloted, with 121 (84%) returning their ballot papers. 115 voted for strikes, and 119 for action short of strikes. Six workers voted against strikes, and two against action short. That's an 80% majority for action!

The dispute aims to force LU/TubeLines to make all new jobs permanent, and abandon their current plans to recruit new staff on two-year fixed-terms contracts.

Congratulations to RMT reps and activists on Pic fleet for a great ballot campaign and an excellent result. See you on the picket lines!

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Transfer Talk

Published on: Tue, 28/03/2017 - 14:28

Over 1,500 workers face being shuffled around like pieces on a chessboard from 30 April, as LU proposes to transfer the employment of all workers involved in engineering, major projects, change delivery and PMO activity to Transport for London.

The relationship between TfL and its subsidiary companies is something of a movable feast, with the level of integration seeming to magically increase or decrease depending on what happens to suit the bosses at a given moment.

What is not in doubt is that directly-employed TfL staff have worse terms and conditions in many regards than those that have been won by LUL employees. Unions have been fighting a long-running battle within TfL against attacks on pensions and a performance-related-pay scheme. Now, 1,500 LU engineers face a potential levelling down.

LU MD Mark Wild has said he was doing this for grade progression for traffic light grads into Railway Signalling... as if they're the same thing! It'd be a bit like taking your unwell pet to see a haematologist. Wild has also said he doesn't even know how much the transfer will save; without a doubt, though, in the current climate, jobs are at risk. And the whole of test train work is being transferred... except the drivers!

The TUPE proposals are a complete mess. Q Grades staff are excluded, which is a good thing, but the departments they work in are being transferred, so they'll still face the upheaval of doing the same job but having to report to a different manager in a new department. The whole thing may breach TUPE regulations anyway, as the bosses have failed to consult, and the transfer disrupts a previously-agreed multi-year pay deal. The longer-term fear is that LU will break up teams at Acton and Lillie Bridge depots and transfer them over to TfL too. Many feel the transfers may be preludes to larger attacks under the "TfL Transformation" programme.

The RMT has demanded a halt to the transfer. Workers are not disposable commodities to be moved around by our employers depending on what’s best for their accounts!

The solution is for a fully-integrated transport system, an end to needless transfers and contracting out, with all workers employed by a single, public employer, with pay, terms, and conditions levelled up.

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Action on Fleet

Published on: Mon, 27/03/2017 - 16:17

Following their vote for industrial action (which we reported on here), RMT members on Fleet began a campaign of industrial action on 7 March, effectively a form of work-to-rule.

The action includes:

  • Not working any overtime or attend training courses outside of normal working hours
  • Not carrying out any higher grade duty work
  • Not changing any shifts or work locations to assist with maintenance
  • Trainers not carrying out training for anyone on a job that is not their substantive role
  • Coaches not to coach anyone on a job that is not their substantive role
  • Not working if there is not a valid and in date WRA, COSHH, and Manual Handling Assessment
  • Not working if there is no first aider on site
  • The form the action has taken shows just how much LU relies on our goodwill to keep things running most of the time. When they refuse to reciprocate, we should withdraw it.

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    Brakes Not Working? We're Not Driving

    Published on: Thu, 16/03/2017 - 17:31

    Action today by Piccadilly line drivers has forced management to ensure the safety of the fleet.

    Drivers have been telling the line's management for ages that there is a problem with the brakes. But while LUL was denying it - preferring instead to blame 'driver incompetence' - Tube Lines decided that a mechanical change was needed (implying that there had been a fault after all). Unfortunately, the technical fix made matters worse not better, as the new microswitches did not work properly and interfered with the downloads!

    Fleet maintainers and drivers were rightly concerned that the trains were no longer safe, and so drivers, quite rightly, took matters into their own hands and refused to drive them. What months of talking would not have achieved, decisive action did achieve - with management committing to double-checking every train before it goes into service.

    We can only guess what might have happened had the drivers not taken this action.

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    Published on: Sat, 11/03/2017 - 12:49

    Yesterday morning saw the Central line service up the wall after an engineering train derailed as it crossed the points on the way into a siding at White City around the time of start of traffic.

    Over-stretched and short-handed station staff - still not feeling the full benefit of their recent victory over staff cuts - had to deal with grumpy passengers for most of the day, while drivers had to deal with late running and changes to schedules.

    Investigations are of course underway. As usual, these will probably look for an individual to blame, but even if the immediate cause is human error, humans make errors in the conditions in which they are made to work.

    Engineering hours protection was privatised years ago, and private contractors always look for ways to cut cost, even if that means giving their staff too many responsibilities and distractions. And the organisation of the railway is so fragmented that it will be harder for the investigation to get to the root cause. With a variety of different companies involved, each will be trying to prove that it was another one's fault.

    It is only by having an integrated, publicly-owned Underground that we can assess incidents like this honestly, with the sole motive being improving service and safety, not passing the blame in order to pass the bill.

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    Fleet workers vote for strikes

    Published on: Mon, 27/02/2017 - 11:40

    Back in January, we reported on an imminent ballot on Fleet, in a dispute over a range of issues, including job cuts.

    The ballot has now concluded, returning a 68% majority for strikes and an 89% majority for action-short-of-strikes.

    Hopefully RMT will crack on and get strike dates named, ideally coordinating them with other ongoing disputes across the job, including the Central Line drivers' fight against forced displacements.

    With Night Tube forming part of the background to this dispute (specifically, LU's failure to honour an agreement to staff up in order to cover additional work), the potential is emerging for a combine-wide dispute over Night Tube, involving drivers and station staff, who are rightly aggrieved at having opportunities to transfer into full-time positions blocked, and fleet staff. Why not ballot Interserve and ISS cleaners, and other contractors working nights, on their issues too, and make it an across-the-job dispute against the exploitation of Night Tube staff?

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