Northern line

Action needed over noise levels

Submitted by Tubeworker on Wed, 03/07/2019 - 11:43

RMT is considering a ballot of driver members on five lines - Victoria, Central, Northern, Jubilee, and Piccadilly - over noise levels.

LU has installed “Pandrol Vanguard” technology on the tracks in an attempt to reduce train noise at street level... with the effect that noise is forced into the cab and cars, affecting drivers and passengers.

This fix is not good enough. We want a proper engineering solution, and in the meantime a temporary speed restriction in place over affected areas to reduce noise.

If LU won’t agree to that, industrial action short of strikes to drive at reduced speed over affected track will be necessary.

Fit for Nothing

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 24/01/2019 - 13:07

It has come to Tubeworker's attention that on some station groups, management have come up with a novel idea for dealing with the problem of not having CSMs available to carry out Return to Work interviews. They want staff to sign a statement that they are fit for duty and then have them crack on with work while the RTWI takes place days or even weeks later.

You don't have to be a genius to see what could go wrong here. What if you are not fit for your full duties? What if you are not sure whether you are? What happens when you make a mistake or have an accident? You signed the statement; you're responsible.

Management are trying to patch up their own short-staffing with this reckless gimmick. They are trying to shift responsibility from themselves to us. The unions must tell them to stop it. In the meantime, insist on your Return to Work Interview, and don't sign your rights away.

In The Air Tonight

Submitted by Tubeworker on Tue, 15/01/2019 - 11:40

Scientific reports confirming the shockingly bad quality of air on London Underground are becoming an annual tradition.

The latest report, from the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, reported last week that the air on the platforms at Hampstead was around 31 times more polluted than the average in London, taken from a roadside monitoring point.

This might not effect passengers too badly, as they’re unlikely to be at platform level for more than a few minutes at a time. But what about staff? Station staff have to do SATS duties for up to two hours, and cleaners in some locations spend their entire eight-hour shifts at platform level.

The company has been scrambling to deny the problem. An Employee Bulletin said: “We spend around £60 million every year cleaning our trains, stations, and tunnels to ensure dust levels are kept to an absolute minimum. This includes regular cleaning of trains and stations.”

This reassuring statistic omits to mention a few vital facts. Firstly, the cleaning is not carried out by robots: it’s carried out by people, who are themselves being exposed to dust and air pollution. Secondly, ABM, the multinational contractor to whom LU outsources cleaning, is planning to make huge job cuts!

LU also claims it “performs regular health checks for all our operational employees.” This is a straightforward untruth, as any operational employee knows well. The only time we’re sent to Occupational Health for a checkup is when LU is worried we might be too ill to work for a prolonged period, when its various “supportive” methods of attendance management kick in (“get back to work quickly or else”). It’s also worth remembering that ongoing austerity cuts on LU have not spared LUOH, which has been radically pared back with many additional facilities, including health fairs on stations and in depots, reduced or scrapped entirely.

LU has also consistently refused requests from station staff to be allowed to wear simple dust masks while performing platform duties, for no other reason than that some senior boss has decided they don’t look good. So the company’s concern for some superficial notion of aesthetics apparently overrides its concern for our health.

Union health and safety reps are already demanding additional local checks into air quality. Make sure yours does this too. And if LU still won’t budge on the dust masks issue and enters into serious discussions about reducing platform time, including my increasing staffing levels to facilitate greater SATS rotation if necessary, we need to start thinking about industrial action to refuse to work downstairs.

It’s a jobs issue for cleaners too; without a significant increase in cleaner numbers, there’ll be no way to limit time spent on the platform. RMT’s fight to resist ABM’s job cuts, and bring cleaning in house, is a fight for workers’ health!

More Stations Fight Short-Staffing

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 10/01/2019 - 10:23

Station staff on the Northern and District lines are set to follow in the footsteps of Bakerloo South and ballot for strikes for better staff coverage.

In the stations around Earl's Court and Hendon Central, duties are regularly left uncovered and staff left to run stations alone. Lone working is dangerous and stressful, and staff have had enough. On both these groups, union members are asking RMT to call industrial action to force management to fill vacancies and cover duties.

Tubeworker knows that this problem is rampant across our stations. So how about we fight back across the job. Together we are stronger.

Vote yes for strikes on cab security

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 17/08/2018 - 17:27

Five members of the public got into a female driver's cab on a Northern Line train at Kings Cross. London Underground played down the threat and questioned her version of events!

This is just the latest of many incidents. Drivers feel vulnerable. The cab can be accessed from the train too easily with a J door key or the emergency handle. Drivers are demanding a secure magnetic lock but London Underground refuses to pay for it.

So we will strike for our demands. Aslef members will vote between 4 and 19 September. Tubeworker hopes RMT drivers will be balloted too or join the strike action.

Tubeworker topics

Potential ballot over cab security

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 02/08/2018 - 11:20

After a Northern Line driver was attacked by a passenger who managed to break into her cab, Aslef has said it will be looking to ballot its members for strikes to demand better cab security.

This issue has been brewing for a long time, with industrial and safety reps from both unions pressing management. If it takes industrial action to get some concrete action from them, so be it.

We hope both unions ballot their driver memberships and take coordinated action when the time comes.

Tubeworker topics

Dust Up

Submitted by Tubeworker on Mon, 13/11/2017 - 21:47

One consequence of sharing some stations with other train operating companies is that we get the fallout when their standards slip even lower than ours.

So spare a thought for station staff at Moorgate, Old Street and Highbury & Islington. Great Northern have omitted to clean their tunnels properly for a couple of decades, and the dust has now become a positive nuisance. The good news is that it doesn't - as initially feared - contain asbestos. The less good news is that it contains mould and various other nasty substances.

It is just not acceptable for us (or our Great Northern workmates) to be subjected to working in these conditions.

Who's Who On Stations?

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sat, 10/12/2016 - 21:31

Tubeworker HQ has received reports that construction contractors working at TCR have been getting involved in congestion control and redirecting passengers.

Isn't this another illustration of the staffing crisis on stations? Presumably the contractors are doing this because there aren't enough CSAs. Shouldn't LU station staff, based permanently at the station, be managing congestion and directing passengers through the works? We don't report this to have a pop at the contractors, we have no doubt they'd rather be getting on with their own jobs!

(And while we're talking about TCR contractors, please click here to read about a wildcat strike of construction workers on the TCR Crossrail site, including details of how you can support them.)*

Contractors redirecting passengers, pink-hi-vi wearing "ambassadors" with little operational knowledge and no experience of working on stations stuck on gatelines, DRMs and various other managers being drafted in to paper over the cracks on stations... is this "world-class customer service"?

It all adds up to highlight the profound importance of the unions' central demand in our current dispute: reverse job cuts, staff our stations!

* If you're viewing this article on another platform that doesn't support hyperlinks, the URL for the article supporting the Crossrail construction workers' strike is

Tubeworker topics

Bring It All In House!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Thu, 25/08/2016 - 21:07

The full reintegration of former "TubeLines" engineering maintenance work on the Jubilee, Northern, and Piccadilly Lines into LUL represents the culmination of a years-long union campaign to bring outsourced work back in house. Their continued outsourcing was a legacy of the disastrous "Public Private Partnership".

It is a testament to the resolve of members and reps in those depots who stood firm through a number of disputes and never abandoned the aspiration to fully reverse the privatisation.

It shows that, despite their apparent obsession with outsourcing everything that moves, LUL can sometimes be pushed to reverse outsourcing and reintegrate. With possible strikes ahead against outsourcing on fleet, and cleaning contracts up in the air due to LUL's plans to consolidate them into a single "super contract" next year, unions should press their advantage and go on the offensive to demand an end to outsourcing.

Slimer Returns!

Submitted by Tubeworker on Fri, 01/07/2016 - 19:10

Recent heavy rainfall led to serious flooding at many stations, including Balham. Maintenance workers put bright green dye in the water supply to identify exactly where the flooding was originating, making the station look like it had been attacked by Slimer from Ghostbusters.

Incidents like this, as well as recent leakage problems at Oxford Circus, show some serious deficiencies in basic infrastructural maintenance. Years of budget cuts and outsourcing of maintenance work can't have helped.

Water way to run a railway!

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