Disabled staff and passengers

Keep the Learning Zone Open!

Published 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.

We'd love to see industrial action against this, but in the meantime, please sign this online petition.

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Cash for Access?

Published 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.

It seems that once again, efficient extraction of money is a higher priority for the company than accessibility.

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1 + 1 = accessibility?

Published on: Thu, 19/05/2016 - 10:24

Lack of station staff is causing many issues for disabled passengers who use the Tube.

Tubeworker hears that stations with lifts have become less accessible since staffing levels have been cut. Most stations with lifts are now staffed for much of the day by the bare minimum number of staff required to stay open (1 +1, i.e. one supervisor and one CSA). During these times, staff are not allowed to use the lifts in case the lifts get stuck. Two staff must always be available to evacuate the station and deal with lift failures.

So, for much of the day, when a Visually Impaired Person requires assistance from staff, the staff have to say, 'I am happy to help you down to the platform, but you must go on your own in the lift or walk with me down the emergency stairecase'.

LU has imposed staffing levels that leave VIPs feeling like an unwelcome burden. At worst, this leaves VIPs in an unsafe situation should anything happen in the lift while staff are not present.

We need to reverse station staff cuts for the sake of staff and passengers!

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"Fit for the Future" Training Fiasco

Published on: Mon, 11/04/2016 - 13:27

If a large organisation intended to launch a new staffing model, which required thousands of staff to perform new roles, you would think it would think it might put procedures in place to ensure that those staff were equipped and trained to perform those roles before the model was launched.

But not London Underground! Notwithstanding the basic fact that "Fit for the Future", LU's new operating model for station staffing, is a completely unnecessary restructure, motivated by austerity cutbacks rather than anything that will improve the service we provide to passengers, even on the company's own terms the launch has been a farce.

Tubeworker can reveal these shocking statistics which show the full extent of the chaos in terms of staff being trained for their new roles:

  • "Ticket Machine Servicing" training (this is training to equip CSA1s and CSA2s, paid £30k and £23k respectively, to perform complicated cash-handling and machine-floating work that SAMFs were previously paid £36k to carry out): only 12% of all staff who need the training have been trained.
  • Station Familiarisations (obligatory and safety-critical processes to make sure staff can work at new locations, with all the relevant licenses): only 34.8% of staff have been trained. As we reported on 4 April, the lack of adequately familiarised staff has already led to multiple station closures and stations having no step-free access, confirming our fears that "Fit for the Future" would particularly disadvantage disabled passengers.
  • Control Room Familiarisations (staff who previously worked as SAMFs or Supervisors in outer-London stations have been forced into Zone 1 to work as "Customer Supervisors" in the control rooms of busy central London stations, a completely different - and highly stressful - working environment that requires substantial training): just 35.3% of staff have been trained.
  • We at Tubeworker HQ doubt whether many station staff will be rushing to the front of the queue to demand training. "Fit for the Future" has displaced us en masse, and forced us into new, more responsible, and more difficult roles for no extra pay. Why should we make the running to help the company's new model work?

    The chaos proves that improving service was never the company's aim. They wanted to cut jobs and reduce costs. For them, the subsequent mess is presumably a price worth paying.

    For us, it means more stressful working lives and a worse service for passengers. Isn't it time for our unions to launch a new dispute to resist "Fit for the Future"'s chaotic consequences?

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    Hate To Say We Told You So...

    Published on: Mon, 04/04/2016 - 15:57

    "Fit for the Future" has been combine-wide for less than two days. Here's a balance sheet so far:

  • Aldgate East station was closed due to staff shortage.
  • Euston Square station had no step-free access due to a shortage of lift-trained staff.
  • Tottenham Hale had no step-free access due to a shortage of lift-trained staff.
  • Hounslow East had no step-free access due to a shortage of lift-trained staff.
  • Wood Lane had no step-free access due to a shortage of lift-trained staff.
  • Various stations had no ticket-office trained staff on duty so were not able to float or service ticket machines.
  • Mass IT failures, including a blanket outage of various new apps on the "go live" day itself.
  • This is undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg. There have been many more incidents, network-wide, that are less easily definable, resulting from the chaos of forcibly displacing hundreds of staff to new and unfamiliar locations, including needlessly sacrificing years of accumulated local knowledge and forcing staff from smaller station environments to displace to central London.

    None of us will take any pleasure in having predicted this mess. To anyone with an ounce of common sense, it was obvious that the result of cutting hundreds of jobs and forcibly regrading and displacing staff would be chaos for both workers and passengers. But for LU, cost cutting and efficiency savings trounce common sense every time.

    It's time to start planning campaigns, and industrial disputes, against the chaotic consequences of "Fit for the Future", and fighting for our own vision of the future - a properly staffed Tube network with properly trained staff, whose skills and rights are respected, rather than being treated like numbers on a spreadsheet to be crunched at management's whim.

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    How To Fight For Ticket Offices

    Published on: Thu, 17/09/2015 - 20:04

    The fight against ticket office closures should not be allowed to die. Even if we don't feel like we have the confidence to win on it right now, there is plenty that our unions could do to keep the issue live. Here are Tubeworker's suggestions:

  • Organise demonstrations, petitioning, and leafleting outside ticket offices that are yet to close, particularly at key stations such as Victoria, Paddington, and Heathrow.
  • Revive the Hands Off London Transport campaign to link up with passengers' groups, particularly disabled people's rights activists, to make the wider social case for a staffed ticket office at every station.
  • Work with supportive London Assembly Members to demand TfL declares a moratorium on closures, pending a review of the closures that have already taken place (researching whether it has increased queuing times, etc.)
  • Focus on ex-Silverlink stations at the north end of the Bakerloo Line, where LU cannot close ticket offices without the nod from the Department for Transport.
  • We also need to look at organising in the "Visitor Information Centres" now in operation at stations like King's Cross St. Pancras and Victoria. Although they sell tickets, they are staffed by workers with significantly worse terms and conditions than LU SAMFs. Unions should demand that work be taken "in house" by LU and the workers paid the proper rate for the job.

    Comments

    Submitted by TicketOfficeWatch on Fri, 08/01/2016 - 09:16

    LU are now consulting on closing the final 12 ticket offices on the Bakerloo & District lines

    Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 09/01/2016 - 19:11

    RMT has organised a demo at Queen's Park on Wednesday 20 January, details here.

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    The Crazy World of Stevie G

    Published on: Tue, 11/08/2015 - 23:53

    We've been having a good chuckle here at Tubeworker HQ at this latest wheeze from LU Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths (he of "I don't care what you think about health and safety" fame - see here).

    A BBC article on our latest strike, which quotes Steve blustering in disbelief that a union, during a dispute about jobs, would demand... more jobs. Or, as the article puts it, "the hiring of 'even more staff'" (yes folk, even more staff. The sheer insane utopian temerity of it all!), implying that Steve somehow believes that the staffing level is so astronomically high already that demands to increase it are just patently ridiculous.

    Well Steve, let us assure you: it isn't. Proposed new rosters for stations will see a massive increase in lone working, leading to a more stressful and dangerous environment for staff and passengers alike. We already know that the system is creaking on Fleet and Engineering, where the OT ban has exposed just how much maintenance work LU only manages to get done through overtime.

    Have you even been on the Tube recently, Steve? To any Tube passengers reading this, we ask you to consider your own experience. How many times, at a busy station, have you needed assistance that we've been unable to offer because the handful of station workers in the ticket hall (including those who you could once at least have queued up to speak to at a ticket office window) are already completely inundated, or busy assisting disabled passengers or school parties? If you've ever had an experience like that you've probably already seen through LU's spin about their plans being about delivering "world class customer service", and seen them for what they are: an austerity-driven cuts project.

    So yes, Steve, we are "demanding the hiring of 'even more staff'". Heaven forfend that a workers' organisation should demand the creation of well-paid, stable, public-sector jobs at a time of austerity.

    But for the record, we don't want you to fund it through fare hikes. Our first choice for funding would be for central government to increase direct funding to TfL/LUL. But failing that, how about some different cuts closer to home? We could start with shaving a bit off the wage bill for senior management, or maybe cut a couple of those posts altogether. Maybe we could start with the COO.

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    STOP PRESS: LU sacks worker for having a disability. Reinstate Karen Guyott now!

    Published on: Wed, 25/02/2015 - 14:03

    London Underground has "medically terminated" (i.e., sacked) a disabled worker... for having a disability.

    Karen Guyott worked as a Customer Service Assistant on Jubilee Line stations. She has epilepsy, but with "reasonable adjustments" was perfectly able to perform her role. The adjustments included restricting Karen from working on live tracks: CSAs never work on live tracks anyway. Her stations have "Platform Edge Doors", which restrict access to the track anyway. Karen was also restricted from working in machine chambers: CSAs never work in machine chambers anyway. So, in other words, her disability only "restricted" her from duties that were not part of her grade's job. There's been no issue for five years.

    But LU has suddenly decided that Karen's situation is "unsustainable", and she has been sacked. This is clear discrimination against a worker for having a medical condition.

    In October, RMT called off planned strikes because the union secured a promise from the company that any medically-restricted staff affected by upcoming "Fit for the Future" changes would be protected. But LU have used a questionnaire that Karen (along with all other staff) had to fill out as part of the "Fit for the Future" "location preferencing" process as part of their "evidence" for sacking her.

    In an obscene twist, LU bosses were doing press work just one day before sacking Karen, puffing themselves up as an ethical employer helping make disability discrimination a thing of the past. One day later, they're helping keep it very much alive.

    The company has always said that "Fit for the Future" wouldn't lead to currently-employed workers losing their jobs, and that the planned reduction in the staffing level would be managed through voluntary severance and relocation. That claim has been exposed as nonsense; they have used the "Fit for the Future" process to discriminate against and sack a disabled member of staff.

    To win reinstatement for Karen, and for other unfairly sacked colleagues like Noel Roberts and Alex McGuigan, and to slam the brakes on the "Fit for the Future" jobs massacre, we need more strikes as soon as possible.

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    Elderly, disabled passengers left stranded

    Published on: Fri, 10/12/2010 - 09:59

    A recent incident shows how LU's de-staffing of stations is putting vulnerable passengers in danger.

    An elderly wheelchair user and her partner got off a train late at night at Epping. But with no staff on the station, they were unable to leave and were stuck on the platform. In the freezing cold, if it weren't for the waiting room, they could have been in serious danger.

    It appears that eventually, the partner was able to get onto an auto phone and make contact with someone who was able to arrange for someone from another station to come down and release them.

    Putting elderly and disabled people at risk like this is an absolute disgrace. LU should abandon its job cuts and fill its vacancies immediately. And rather than advertise Epping as having step-free access, it might try more honestly admitting that it has step-free access only when staff are actually on the station.

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    Vote for Action to Save Jobs

    Published on: Wed, 30/06/2010 - 13:18

    At long last, we are to get our ballot papers to take action to stop London Underground's job cuts. As we all know, the company is cutting up to 800 stations jobs. It is also cutting staff in service control. With 300 drivers more than it needs, LU seems to be dealing with the 'excess' by sacking drivers for mistakes that would have got you a warning a couple of years back. And various leaked documents have shown that plans are afoot to cut jobs in engineering and fleet, no doubt to pay off the price of the disastrous PPP.

    David Cameron is fond of saying that "We are all in this together" - while dumping working people, the poor and disabled far deeper in it than his rich mates. But while workers and our bosses are not in it together, all grades of workers certainly are. None of our jobs is secure, and we can not afford the luxury of looking out only for ourselves. We are all in this fight together.

    So it's good news that RMT's ballot includes all grades and is about all job cuts. We understand that TSSA's ballot is not far behind, but have yet to hear what ASLEF will be doing.

    =====

    We need to think about the best strategy to win. Strikes can not just be one-off protest gestures designed to allow us to let off steam. We need to show the employer that we are serious about stopping these job cuts: when the union names its first strike, it should name the second one too, so everyone is clear that if we don't win straightaway, we will not give up and go away.

    We also need the unions to look at providing hardship payments to members who will struggle with lengthy action. Unite gave BA cabin crew £30 for each strike day.

    Annd we need to use 'action short of strikes' in an imaginative way, to maintain momentum between strikes and involve more members.

    Rank-and-file organisation and leadership is essential. We have seen with the ballot delay that union bureaucracies can be slow and unresponsive, and can be more concerned about staying in control than getting action organised.

    Where they fail, we have to act. We all need to spread the word round the workplaces, giving each other the confidence that we don't have to accept job cuts, that they are not inevitable, that we can fight them. Encourage all your workmates to vote Yes in the ballot, give out union leaflets and information to counteract management propaganda.

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    The excellent 'SOS: Staff Our Stations' campaign has raised passengers' awareness of the attacks on stations jobs and ticket office opening hours, and has kept up the momentum of our campaign while we have waited an age for the union head offices to get the ballot ready. A public and political campaign should continue alongside our industrial fight.

    We should also link up with other public service workers, and service users.

    Politicians are arguing about whether half-a-million or one-and-a-half-million public sector jobs will go as a result of the ConDem government's bloodbath Budget. So we have plenty of potential allies in our fight to save jobs!

    And while our jobs are under threat, so is our 'social wage' - with benefits and tax credits being cut or frozen, and government departments having their budgets slashed by 25%, we could all soon see less money coming in and more going out.

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