Disputes

Central shutdown

Published on: Wed, 07/11/2018 - 15:44

Strikes by RMT and Aslef drivers on the Central Line (the Leytonstone depot of which also provides drivers for the Waterloo and City Line) have completely shut the line today, in an impressive display of workers' strength.

The strikes are part of overlapping and parallel disputes. RMT has two disputes, one demanding the reinstatement of Paul Bailey, and another against authoritarian management culture. Aslef's disputes relate to the latter issue, and the unfair sacking of one of their members after a procedural error.

Management spin alleges that Paul Bailey "failed a drugs test". In fact, he registered on a drugs test after taking hemp supplements, but was within the "cut-off" limit for the substance. In essence he was sacked for passing a drugs test. This calls into question the integrity of LU's entire drugs and alcohol testing regime and it's absolutely right that Paul's colleagues are striking to demand his reinstatement.

The issues around management culture closely mirror those over which drivers on the Piccadilly Line recently struck: a culture of petty discipline, hauling drivers in for unnecessary attendance reviews and case conferences, and a heavy-handed attitude to drivers from Service Control. This strike demands dignity at work, and the right not to be pushed around by bullying bosses.

The total shutdown of the lines is a testament to drivers' resolve. But while one day of action may be enough to push management into further talks, it may not be sufficient to secure concessions. If the situation doesn't improve, unions need to give serious consideration to coordinated and sustained strikes.

Add new comment

Central Line and Picc Line drivers: all out on 7 November!

Published on: Wed, 17/10/2018 - 13:10

RMT and Aslef drivers on the Central Line, and RMT drivers on the Piccadilly Line, will strike on 7 November. Here’s the lowdown on the Central Line strike...


RMT drivers have three ongoing disputes on the Central Line - we’re resisting the removal of detrainment staff on the Waterloo and City Line, where drivers operate out of Leytonstone depot; we’re demanding reinstatement for Paul Bailey, a driver we believe was unjustly sacked; and we’re fighting against an out-of-control management culture.

Management have backed off for now on their plans to remove Waterloo and City Line detrainment staff. They were planning to impose “flash-and-dash”, whereby, rather than the train being physically checked by a station assistant, the driver would simply be expected to flash the cab lights on and off and hope that would be enough to remind any passengers to get off, then take the train into the sidings.

In the Paul Bailey case, there is a lot of propaganda being circulated by the Central Line Operations Manager. Paul was sacked after “failing” a drugs test, for the presence of cannabinoid substances, but a second test on a sample taken at the same time showed he was well within the cut-off limit of 50-ng/mL.

Management are now moving the goalposts and saying the limit is 15-ng/mL, even though all the documentation says 50. They won’t release the results of Paul’s initial test, they’re just saying “he failed”. When pressed on why they won’t release the results, managers say, “we don’t have to”. So there’s obviously something dodgy going on in terms of openness and transparency.

The third dispute is over what the union calls a “breakdown of industrial relations”. There are a raft of issues involved here, which affect drivers at all Central Line depots. They’re similar to the issues in the Piccadilly Line dispute. Drivers feel like we’re being pushed around by management. They knowingly run trains late then effectively force drivers to work past their shift finishing times. There’s also a big issue with the authoritarian way the attendance policy is being applied; drivers who are at work with no issues are being hauled in for medical case conferences and told they’re at risk of losing their jobs!

In the Waterloo and City Line and Paul Bailey disputes, there are clear demands: retain detrainment staff, and reinstate Paul. In the other dispute, we’re fighting for a wholesale change in management culture.

We’ll strike on 7 November, alongside Aslef, who have a parallel dispute on the Central Line over similar issues. Aslef also have a live ballot mandate over cab security, but it’s not clear what their strategy is for that.

The issues with Central Line management have been ongoing for years, resurfacing over and over again. It feels like we have to strike to keep the bosses in check.

Add new comment

Action brings management to the table but where next?

Published on: Sun, 07/10/2018 - 00:28

The Picc line strike 26-28 September was rock solid at all depots. Management are clearly worried and now asking to return to ACAS for further talks. Aslef members respecting pickets and the involvement of the night tube for the first time show there is appetite from drivers to pile on the pressure.

It would be all to easy to go into the talks, hear some progress, just like in November and once against for them to fail to deliver. RMT should go into these talks with dates for further action named. With the ballot showing strong support for action on The Central. Picc drivers should coordinate their action. RMT branches jointly meeting with all those involved to discuss the next steps like Finsbury Park and Piccadilly & District Line West did are examples to be followed

On 26 September coming out at noon effectively gave an extra day of action, lining up to do the same when the Central Line driver's name their date will show what we are capable of.

A whole line being taken out caused plenty of problems for management, two going out together and a commitment to keep naming dates until real concessions are made would put us on the front foot and serve as an example to other grades on the combine

Add new comment

Picc-et Lines!

Published on: Fri, 21/09/2018 - 10:59

Drivers on the Piccadilly Line are set to strike for 48 hours from 26-28 September, with Night Tube drivers striking on 28 and 29.

Strikes were planned on the Picc from 11-14 July, but were called off after LU offered a settlement. The headline of the deal was a commitment to maintain staffing levels at Piccadilly Line depots at a level well above the agreed minimum, in an attempt to ameliorate a crisis of short staffing. At the time, there was significant dissent amongst some reps and activists, with many feeling that the offer didn't go far enough and that LU couldn't be trusted to keep up their end of the bargain. Many argued that the strikes should go ahead to give the company a reminder of who actually makes the trains move (i.e., workers, not bosses).

The strikes were suspended, but it didn't take long for those who'd argued against suspension to be vindicated. LU reneged on its commitments. Back to square one.

It's absolutely vital the strikes go ahead this time. The company clearly cannot be trusted to uphold agreements made in negotiations unless the additional pressure of workers' action is brought to bear. The only language they understand is profit; stopping the job and hitting their revenue and reputation is the only way to force concessions they actually stick to.

RMT's Finsbury Park and Piccadilly & District Line branches plan comprehensive picketing of depots at both ends of the line, which we confidently expect members of the other union will respect.

Calling off strikes at the last minute isn't cost-neutral. Workers' confidence and mobilisation can't be turned on and off like a light switch. If we train ourselves into the habit of expecting strikes to be called off, at a certain point people will stop voting for them. There's also an issue of union democracy involved; the resolution that led to the initial ballot contained a clause stipulating a 24-hour deadline for negotiations, committing the union to going ahead with strikes if no adequate settlement had been reached 24 hours in advance. Despite this, negotiations continued until the last possible minute.

We elect reps and send them into negotiations to articulate our demands and let the company know what we want. But it's industrial action that will force the changes. The model shouldn't be negotiators saying, "give us a deal and we'll suspend the strikes", it should be negotiators saying "these are our demands: will you meet them?", and if the company responds in the negative, we strike. Simple.

Obviously in the course of a dispute compromise may be necessary, and we may decide that a deal offered at a particular point represents enough of a step forward for us to accept it. But the starting point should always be workers' direct action to win our demands, not the threat of strikes used as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Even on those terms, the more strikes we suspend, the less power that threat has.

Drivers on the Picc are up for the fight, so let's take it to the bosses.

Tubeworker topics

Add new comment

The Central issues

Published on: Fri, 21/09/2018 - 10:42

UPDATE: Since the below article was written, Aslef have named strikes on 5 October and 7 November. RMT's ballot is due to commence shortly.


Central Line drivers are fighting an out-of-control management, in a dispute that closely mirrors the issues on the Piccadilly Line.

Central Line bosses are misapplying disciplinary procedures in a petty and authoritarian way, obstructing union reps, and misapplying the attendance policy, including by harassing drivers who are fully fit and at work! Night Tube drivers also feel left behind and denied decent welfare facilities. Drivers are also unhappy about how they're communicated with by Service Controllers.

Aslef have already balloted, and returned a massive majority for strikes. An RMT ballot is due any day. Any strikes should be coordinated between both unions.

The parallels between issues on the Central Line and the issues on the Picc suggest a coordinated effort by trains managers to conduct themselves like little bullying police officers. Our best response will be to remind them who actually makes the trains run... us, the workers!

See you on the picket lines.

Tubeworker topics

Add new comment

Aslef drivers vote for strikes on cab security

Published on: Fri, 21/09/2018 - 10:38

Aslef drivers have returned a big majority for strikes in their vote for action on cab security. 89% of drivers voted for strikes, on a 56% turnout.

There's clearly a significant strength of feeling around this issue, which has been brewing for some time.

Union safety reps are still in talks with the company about possible solutions to the issue; and nothing focuses the bosses' minds like the prospect of strikes. When strikes are called, Tubeworker is confident RMT drivers will respect Aslef picket lines.

Tubeworker topics

Add new comment

Real Cab Security Needs Station Staff

Published on: Mon, 17/09/2018 - 19:40

ASLEF drivers are balloting for industrial action on cab security, and Tubeworker hopes that RMT will soon follow. Their demand is for a secure locking system on the cab door.

But is a technical fix enough? Is it even possible for a lock to be so secure that it is impenetrable in every imaginable situation? And what about if a driver is attacked via another route, for example through the window when checking the PTI?

Drivers have become more vulnerable as the company has withdrawn staff from stations. When an attack happens, the driver needs immediate assistance from a colleague, but there are five hundred fewer of those colleagues around to help. The chances of getting someone there quickly are getting slimmer.

So for real cab security, let's demand an increase in station staffing too!

Add new comment

Reinstate Picc strikes if bosses don't honour agreements

Published on: Sat, 21/07/2018 - 15:56

Drivers’ strikes planned on the Picc for 12-15 July were suspended after bosses offered RMT a settlement.

Among other things, the deal commits management to maintaining existing staffing levels at Picc depots.

The big majority in the ballot for strikes shows the strength of feeling on the line. The strike was only suspended: the dispute remains live. If there’s even the merest sniff of management reneging on their commitments, new strikes should be called.

Tubeworker topics

Add new comment

More Transplant strikes due on 3 August: the story of the fight so far

Published on: Sat, 21/07/2018 - 14:47

Transplant is a department within London Underground, formerly part of TubeLines. Some may know Transplant as the “Ballast Trains”, or maybe the “Engineers Train Unit” (ETU). Due to the nature of work, predominantly carried out under the cover of darkness, some would believe that its just a small setup. The reality is very different. Transplant is a huge scale operation, compromising 270+ vehicles, such as a fleet of battery locomotives; plain line/points and crossing tamping machines; rail cranes; various plant equipment; and a massive fleet of wagons that cater to LUL's engineering requirements.

Transplant workers have been responsible for providing all this equipment across the LUL infrastructure every night to carry out essential maintenance work, and during weekend possessions to support major improvement works across the Tube network. Again, due to the nature of the heavy engineering work and the fact that a lot of the fleet is over 50 years old, the trains themselves require a lot of maintenance. This completed by a small but dedicated team of Train Maintainers whose skills, knowledge, and experience of multiple stocks and lots of different equipment have enabled Transplant to operate for many years.

Workers on Transplant maintenance teams feel they have played, and continue to play, a vital and pivotal role in the success and safe operation of this department and that they should receive recognition for this.

A dispute situation was announced back in 2017 over the issues of pay parity and train preparation payments. RMT began talks with the company before Christmas and felt that good progress had been made and the company had recognised our aspirations of achieving pay parity with the Engineers Train Operators. Because of these assurances the dedicated members of Transplant maintenance felt that this was a reasonable way forward and ensured their support over the Christmas period to the major engineering works. After Christmas a few discussions were held but no agreement reached, action-short-of-strikes was announced and commenced… still no talks. Members of staff felt ignored and like they had been played by management. They had stuck to their side of the bargain: their gesture of goodwill and commitment to support Christmas engineering work based on serious negotiations in the new year.

During the course of this dispute we have found management to actually be some of our best recruiters. Their actions have enraged staff, caused tensions to escalate to boiling point, and have left industrial relations in a state of disrepair.

The new anti-trade union laws passed in 2016 meant we had to re-ballot. A massive majority vote was secured demonstrated a continued determination to fight on. Transplant maintenance workers struck for 24 hours from 12 July. Due to possession works being scaled back, the decision was taken to suspended further strikes planned for 13 and 15 July.

More strikes are now scheduled to take place from 19:00 on Friday 3 August. With planned engineering works slowing from down from September we wonder if management are trying to kick the can down the road. Transplant maintenance workers have been providing an outstanding service, however they having been working at 100% capacity with staff shortages, lack of resources, and lack of investment. The maintenance teams are now required more then ever and with a down turn in engineering work out on the network comes a major up turn in in work for maintenance and workshop staff.

There are recent noticeable changes in the management structure. We hope to resolve this dispute and ensure workplace justice for Transplant maintenance workers for many years to come.

Add new comment

All out at Ruislip!

Published on: Mon, 02/07/2018 - 13:51

Train maintenance workers at the Ruislip depot will strike over the following times:

07:00 on Thursday 12 July to 07:00 on Friday 13 July
19:00 on Friday 13 July to 07:00 on Saturday 14 July
07:00 on Sunday 15 July to 19:00 on Sunday 15 July

Spreading the strike across several shifts should see maximum impact. This means that the Central Line service could be severely impacted at the same time as the Picc Line drivers’ strike knocks out service on the Picc.

It’s time to give LUL bosses a reminder of who really makes the job run!

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.