Disputes

Ballot on pay and conditions imminent

Published on: Tue, 18/06/2019 - 11:58

RMT is now preparing to ballot members on LU for industrial action over pay and conditions. With all three other unions having also rejected LU’s latest offer, it’s likely they’ll ballot too.

Restrictive anti-union laws mean we need to get a 50% turnout and at least 40% of all those balloted voting yes to take legal action. So make sure your contact details are up to date with your union so your ballot paper gets sent to the right place.

We need to be prepared to take serious action. A token one-day strike is unlikely to be enough to budge the bosses. Guards on South Western Railway are currently striking for five days to defend their jobs; their resolve should inspire us!

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Why Tube cleaners plan to strike

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2019 - 23:21

Tube cleaners in the RMT are preparing to ballot for strikes. Here, a cleaner tells Tubeworker why.


“Tube cleaners have been campaigning for many years against injustice. We're fighting for dignity, and equal conditions in our workplaces. Currently we have no company sick pay, which means cleaners who get sick are forced to come to work or face financial hardship. And we also have no free travel passes, unlike directly-employed staff working on the railway.

“The biggest demand we are fighting for is direct employment, for cleaning to be brought in house. I don't consider myself an ABM cleaner. I am a TfL cleaner, I am a London Underground cleaner. ABM will probably go in a few years, some other contractor will come along. But we are doing the same work, cleaning London Underground. We should be employed directly.

“There's hasn't been industrial action for several years; union members amongst cleaners have been waiting for this dispute for a long time. People were asking, “when are we going to have a real fight?” Non-members have also been enthused by the announcement that we're planning to ballot. Since the decision was announced, I've personally recruited six people. Cleaners want to join because they see us preparing for a strike.

“We're not planning to strike simply because we're pissed off. Action is an essential organising tool. A union is only as strong as its membership. By taking action, we build the union. We need support and guidance from the rest of RMT. Many cleaners have English as a second language and many not know their legal rights. Some feel scared and isolated. The wider union can provide us with direction and information to help us build the dispute, and support us when we take action. We need to be honest with members about what it will take to win.

“We have been making good links with other unions organising cleaners, such as the IWGB. We have attend picket lines and demonstrations with them, and we've been sharing ideas and tactics at events coordinated by the New Economics Foundation. It's good to meet cleaners from universities and hospitals and discuss what we have in common. We're part of the union movement so should support each other. If they strike, they know RMT members will have their back, and vice versa. Our voice is bigger if we combine, so unions organising outsourced workers to demand direct employment should join together in common campaigns.”

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Victoria Line drivers head for action

Published on: Tue, 28/05/2019 - 17:21

RMT drivers on the Victoria Line look as though they may soon join their Central Line comrades in balloting for industrial action.

The issues are similar, focusing on management throwing their weight around in the depot. RMT has been arranging meetings of the relevant reps, but it’s crucial that these are quickly translated into action.

As the fleet dispute shows, industrial action is often the only language LU understands.

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Central Line fight needs strikes

Published on: Tue, 28/05/2019 - 17:18

Central Line drivers in RMT recently returned a thumping majority for new strikes in a long-running dispute against bullying bosses. Click here for our report from the time.

So far, no action has been called. It's been over a month. Many drivers are starting to ask why. The dispute hasn’t been resolved, and the exceptional turnout and high majority for strikes in the ballot shows there is a mood to fight. So why hasn’t the union named dates?

Strikes need to be named as soon as possible.

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Fleet workers win train prep fight

Published on: Wed, 15/05/2019 - 09:13


You can almost hear the grinding of gritted teeth...


Industrial action by LU Fleet workers, and the threat of a three-day strike from 17-20 May, has forced LU bosses into an embarrassing climb-down over their plans to extend train prep schedules. An Employee Bulletin announced the bosses' defeat on 14 May, with the company saying it had "decided not to change the frequencies" of train checks.

Quite simply, the company has caved in, for the very simple reason that fleet workers would have stopped the job if they hadn't! It's trade unionism in action: workers organising to exercise our democratic right to withdraw our labour to defend our conditions at work.

It's good that RMT has not settled the dispute with the company over this matter, which means we will still be able to strike, or take further action, at two weeks' notice if the company tries to bring the plans back in some other form over the next six months.

Hopefully we can use the momentum from this victory to spur us on in other fights, including the fight against "Transformation" job cuts and over LU pay/conditions.

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Massive Vote to Stop Train Prep Cuts

Published on: Mon, 08/04/2019 - 09:43

Fleet maintainers have voted overwhelming for industrial action against LUL management's plan to cut the frequency of train preparation. A combination of strength of feeling about the issue and a solid organising effort by RMT activists saw nearly two-thirds of ballot papers returned, nearly ninety per cent of them voting Yes to strikes and even more than that for action short.

The union is now deliberating on what action to call. It is important to call action quickly, to reflect the urgency and importance of this issue. Serious rather than token action will put pressure on management, with a programme of strikes and other actions that shows the company that it can not just ride out one walkout and expect the issue to go away.

Moreover, this is an issue that effects all of us. Reduced train prep frequency will result in more breakdowns, causing grief for engineers, drivers, station staff and service control. If the company does not back down in the face of action from fleet staff, then all-grades industrial action is our next step.

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LU's pay offer is a joke: stand firm for our demands!

Published on: Fri, 05/04/2019 - 20:07

London Underground has offered our unions a one-year, 2.5% pay increase... as long as our unions agree to drop the entirety of our demands.

What is there to say about this offer other than... well, to avoid using inappropriate language, let's just say, "no thanks".

The unions' pay claims included varied demands, but all have demanded a 32-hour, four-day week. LU has simply ignored this, and many other demands around work/life balance and working conditions.

We all know that we'll only shift LU into making real concessions by taking industrial action. Our unions need to begin preparations for that now. Tubeworker was calling nearly a year ago for our unions to launch the pay fight well in advance, so we could be in a position to take industrial action as soon as possible. Unfortunately things have moved at a slower pace. We now need to accelerate.

Stand firm to win a reduced working week and a decent pay rise: prepare for action!

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Train prep ballot: Vote Yes!

Published on: Wed, 06/03/2019 - 13:10

Management's plan to cut the frequency of train preparation from every 24 hours to every 96 hours will be disastrous for jobs, for safety, and for reliability.

Driven solely by penny-pinching, the cut - if it goes ahead - will see trains going into passenger service which have not been check for up to three days. Given the mileage that a train will have covered during that time, and the range of hazards and stresses it faces over that time, the likelihood of a fault is significant. That's why we check them every day, and why it is vital that we keep checking them every day.

Of course, we all know that. And the company probably knows that too. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

Polite representation will not change the company's mind, as money speaks very much louder to our bosses. Even impolite representation won't work - only industrial action will!

RMT is now balloting its Fleet members for action. We have no doubt that a huge majority will support the call for stikes and action short of strikes. But under Tory anti-union laws, a huge majority is not enough. We now have to reach thresholds which in practice are am unreasonably high bar designed to stop us exeercising our democratic right to withdraw our labour.

Until we get these and other anti-union laws repealed, we need to make sure that we reach these thresholds. So make sure you and all your workmates vote in teh ballot! The days of "It doesnt matter, there will be a Yes vote with or without my vote" are over. A Yes vote is now not enough. Turnout is also crucial.

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Bring the Jobs Fights Together!

Published on: Fri, 08/02/2019 - 14:40

Many grades in many locations are suffering under the destaffing over recent years, or are facing imminent cuts to jobs.

The unions - primarily RMT - are fighting back on several fronts. RMT has scored some successes, including on Bakerloo South stations groups and the cleaning contractor, ABM.

Now, more stations groups are going into action, and the union is gearing up for battles against a 2009 agreement on trains that restricts depot staffing levels, and threatened cuts to train prep.

Moreover, other issues under dispute - for example, the ludicrous red tabards, or unacceptable rosters or ticketing problems - are rooted in staff shortages.

Our fightback will be stronger if we fight the roots cause rather than just the symptoms. The more we can bring these disparate disputes together, the better.

This might be easier said than done, particularly since the imposition of difficult-to-reach ballot thresholds by the 2016 Trade Union Act, but with the will and the effort, it can be done. And even if we don't feel ready to call everyone out on strike yet, we can synchronise ballots and actions in different areas.

Moreover, the root cause has a root cause too, as under-staffing is the result of under-funding. Tubeworker would like to see our unions campaign more stridently against the government's cut to TfL's funding and TfL's failure to fight that cut.

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Prepare for action in train prep fight

Published on: Fri, 28/12/2018 - 09:47

RMT has now declared an official dispute with LU over its plans to cut train prep frequency from 24 hours.

The plan, which could see trains run for up to three days without having basic checks performed, threatens staff safety, passenger safety, and jobs, and must be resisted.

If LU doesn’t back down from the planned cut, we must fight back industrially, and across all grades.

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