Earl's Court drivers' ballot scuppered by anti-union laws

Published on: Fri, 20/04/2018 - 12:36

Aslef drivers at Earl's Court depot on the District Line voted by a 77.8% majority for strikes over abuses of the SPAD policy, intending to join their colleagues at Acton depot who struck over similar issues on Friday 13 April.

However, the union is not able to call a lawful strike, as only 39.2% of those eligible to vote voted yes, rather than the 40% required in "essential services" by the Tories' 2016 Trade Union Act.

These are criteria and thresholds not applied in any other area of democratic life. Many Tory MPs and councillors would not have been able to take office if electoral law required at least 40% of the eligible electorate to vote for an individual candidate in order for them to win!

Aslef has already said it will re-ballot at Earl's Court. But as these laws continue to constrain our right to withdraw our labour, which is a basic principle far more essentially democratic than arbitrary turnout thresholds and restrictions, the trade union movement needs to seriously consider confronting these laws. At some point, a union will need to have the courage to call a strike anyway, even if the threshold has been narrowly missed, and appeal to the financial and political solidarity of the wider labour movement to deal with any potential consequences. Quite simply, unjust laws deserve to be broken.

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Prepare for battle on the Picc

Published on: Mon, 09/04/2018 - 00:28

RMT drivers on the Piccadilly Line are heading for a dispute, after the two RMT branches covering the line passed motions noting "that due to continued mismanagement, morale levels on the line are at an historic low level."

Workers cite a raft of issues, including management obstruction of union reps; abuse of procedures; heavy-handed discipline; issues around safety; and more. We all know that solid action by drivers will massively impact the service. Hopefully it'll make the bosses sit up and take notice.

Meanwhile, members of the drivers' union Aslef at the Acton depot on the District Line will strike on 13 April in a dispute over disciplinary procedures following SPAD ("Signal Passed At Danger") incidents (also an issue in the Picc Line battle). The union argues that drivers are being unfairly disciplined rather than being given a chance to amend errors and improve.

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DLR workers to strike again

Published on: Mon, 09/04/2018 - 00:26

Workers on London's Docklands Light Railway will strike from 20-24 April, as part of an ongoing dispute over a range of attacks by Keolis Amey Docklands (KAD), the contractor that operates the DLR.

KAD has begun to outsource more work on the DLR, which the RMT union undermines the job security of existing staff. Recent roster changes have also hit work/life balance, with RMT also accusing KAD of failing to uphold company procedures.

The strikes threaten to disrupt the London Marathon, due to take place over that weekend.

RMT has solid organisation on the DLR, with high density, meaning action is likely to shut the job down. Get down to the picket lines at Poplar and Beckton to support our brothers and sisters!

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Aslef members at Acton to strike on 11 April

Published on: Thu, 22/03/2018 - 23:33

Aslef drivers at Acton depot have announced a strike for 11 April, in protest at the misapplication of policies and procedures (particularly the SPAD policy) and the dipping of a driver to a stations role. Aslef members at Earl's Court are also balloting.

There was some confusion in the announcement of the strike, which was initially called for 28 March, then pushed to 11 April, possibly due to Aslef falling foul of new laws requiring a union to give an employer increased notices of strikes.

With RMT pushing for renewed talks at conciliation service Acas over issues including similar instances of abuse of procedure on the Piccadilly Line, Tubeworker reckons there must be some potential for some joined-up thinking and coordination between the two unions.

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Ruislip depot dispute: management all at sea

Published on: Sun, 18/02/2018 - 02:00

At Ruislip depot, the train maintenance dispute has got the company well and truly rattled.

On Thursday, management kicked off an offensive against workers taking official (and therefore legally protected) industrial action short of strikes, singling out individuals in a bid to break the action.

They even sent the apprentices back to the training centre, saying that the depot was not a suitable learning environment for them. Here at Tubeworker, we think it sounds like an ideal learning environment - a hands-on, practical study of workers standing up for ourselves and fighting back.

Management appear to be out of their depth, not knowing what to do when faced with solid, concerted action. Perhaps the simplest thing for them to do now is to concede an honourable defeat and pay us properly for the work we do.

After all, their strategy of attempting to demoralise us has backfired, with the industrial action more determined and effective than ever.

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Is ISS shipping in strike-breakers?

Published on: Thu, 01/02/2018 - 14:58

Cleaners and security workers employed by ISS on the DLR contract struck again today. The strike will last until 3 February; workers have also planned a work-to-rule from 5 February.

The strike follows a successful action on New Year's Eve, and is over a raft of issues; ISS has unilaterally slashed some workers' hours, and has refused to meaningfully negotiate with RMT over pay.

Reports from the picket line suggest that ISS may be shipping in workers from other contracts to break the strike. Although it is illegal for employers to bring in agency staff to cover the work of strikers, loopholes in the law and sub-contracting arrangements can allow them to bring in their own employees from other areas. This means that ISS staff who normally work on reception desks in a bank could be brought in to work as security on a major public transport system. It's not safe for them or the passengers! The strike-breaking in this instance seems brazen, with nervous looking workers telling pickets they'd been told they needed to work on the DLR today "because of the strike".

Unions must challenging this outrageous practise. Further action is planned for later in the month.

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DLR ISS workers to strike again

Published on: Thu, 18/01/2018 - 09:27

Cleaners and security workers employed by ISS on the DLR will strike again from 1-3 February.

Following a solid strike on New Year's Eve, RMT is organising further action in an attempt to force ISS to adhere to its own agreed procedures for negotiating changes to working practises. The union also wants ISS to respond to its pay claim.

As well as the strike, RMT has also called action-short-of-strike from 5-10 February, in the form of a work-to-rule around risk assessments.

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Asset Operations Boxing Day dispute: good news and bad news

Published on: Thu, 04/01/2018 - 13:36

Asset Operations workers balloted for strikes to secure the same Boxing Day bonus other engineering workers get.

After RMT balloted its members, management agreed to pay the bonus to most workers. Unfortunately, however, the ballot failed to meet the turnout threshold required by the new anti-union laws.

So, two important lessons: one, sometimes even the threat of action will force concessions. And two, it’s vital every member votes in industrial action ballots!

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"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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