Performance management

Ditch the tabards!

Published on: Thu, 25/07/2019 - 11:49

As London faces temperatures of up to 40°, some of our fears about the extreme discomfort caused by having to wear a thick red tabard are being realised.

This entirely unnecessary and uncomfortable addition to the station staff uniform serves no purpose. As we said at the time of its imposition, the issue isn’t staff “visibility”, but staff numbers. Dressing us in red vests can’t mask the fact that LU has cut staff numbers.

We say: ditch the tabards. They’re simply not wearable in these conditions. No supervisor or CSM should be insisting that staff wear them. And if any Area Manager has a problem with that, let them try to discipline an entire shift worth of workers simply for asserting their right to be a little more comfortable while working underground in extreme heat!

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Scorecard stress

Published on: Thu, 18/07/2019 - 13:24

London Underground has come up with another scorecard measure to punish station staff for the lack of staff.

The old measure, 'gateline availability', has been replaced with 'gateline integrity'. LU used to calculate an average of the time that all gates were in full service. It now calculates a score for each individual gate.

LU must intend to stamp out the widespread practice, arising from short-staffing, of leaving the gateline unattended with the Wide Aisle Gate open while you pop to do a station check, retrieve money lost in a ticket machine, etc. New guidance reiterates what we should have been doing all along: whenever you leave the gateline unattended, open all the gates, record the times and the reasons and do an EIRF.

On one hand, each EIRF could be useful to evidence widespread short staffing. The problem is that if you're so short staffed you're leaving the gates open, you're not likely to have the staff to write the EIRF either.

At some stations, staff need to attend something away from the gateline so frequently that Supervisors would be completing 20 to 30 EIRFs a shift.

The main effect of this new scorecard measure will be to stress out the staff who are trying to cover all areas of the station simultaneously. Instead of being praised for their efforts, they will be nagged by management for poor gateline scores.

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Tea break?

Published on: Sun, 10/02/2019 - 20:26

A post by the senior stations boss on the Bakerloo Line on Yammer, LU's "social network" (/management megaphone) suggests that free communal tea and coffee supplies, which were a standard in the dim and distant past, may be returning to stations.

Good news. A little token of appreciation goes along way. But anyone inclined to tug their forelocks and effusively thank the bosses for their generosity should remember the following:

1) They're only restoring something that used to be provided and they took away.
2) Managerial staff in various head office locations already have access to free tea and coffee, including quite a wide range of fairly fancy options, so bunging us a value pack of Tetleys and some Maxwell House (because, let's be honest, we're not holding out much hope for the good stuff) is hardly bringing us the moon on a stick.
3) The timing of the announcement, over the same weekend as the launch of the unpopular and unnecessary red tabards, makes the gesture look at best like an attempt to mollify and placate what management recognises as widespread resentment on stations and, at worst, like a bribe to stop people complaining about the tabards too much.

So, all in all, we say: have a cuppa on the company - frankly, it's the least they can do - but let's not get too pally with or grateful to the bosses. Free caffeine or not, we're still on opposite sides.

Tubeworker topics

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Making it different to “Make A Difference”

Published on: Mon, 20/08/2018 - 15:34

Tube bosses have decided to make a different award to the “Make a Difference” award, called the “You Matter” award, which will still be awarded for the subject matter of making a difference, but presumably a different deference to that awarded for making a difference currently.

The only award worth much in a capatalist society is payment for a day's work, especially if you work on a station group where the Area Manager is refusing to give out awards to save money.

The award title “You Matter” is ironic at best. A couple of years ago LU was busy sacking a load of us under the slogans “Fit for the Future” and lEvery Journey Matters”, along with cutting wages and increasing workload. We didn't matter much to the bosses then, so what has changed now?

If we really matter, employ more of us and increase our wages, especially for the lowest earners amongst us.

Tubeworker topics

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Solidarity not snitching!

Published on: Sun, 25/03/2018 - 21:24

With the creation of the CSM grade, operational station staff are now disciplining each other. Increasingly, station staff are divided between grades.

The breakdown of solidarity has led to a culture whereby many staff seem to take it upon themselves to police each other and grass their colleagues up to management for minor performance issues.

No-one likes piss-takers, and if someone isn't pulling their weight at work it does make the job harder for the rest of us. But dobbing them in to management doesn't solve the problem, it just helps create a more disciplinarian culture.

If your colleagues have performance issues, try to support them rather than grassing them up. Remember that we’re all on the same side - the enemy is the real bosses!

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Change to drivers' agreement penalises junior drivers

Published on: Tue, 07/11/2017 - 11:01

A change has been made to the Train Operators Professional Agreement (Topra). It used to be that any driver who had safety related incidents on a manual line, and who had been on the job two years, had an option of moving to an automatic line. Management and Aslef decided they wanted to increase this to five years and, despite RMT protestations, it has occurred.

Of course, driving a train is an important and skilled job, but it doesn't take five years to master so why this move was made is unclear. Much like the changes in the 2009 agreement, also pushed through by Aslef, it is junior drivers who lose out, and management who make the savings.

There is another concern with this. Are we wise arguing for such agreements that suggest we believe a manual line takes less skill to drive than an automatic line? The same thing happened with the Four Day Week trial. It didn't happen on a manual line because there was a concern about fatigue causing safety incidents. But when it is the unions saying that, what message is being put out?

As workers and union members, it is important we know what our agreements say, and be aware of any changes that may be negotiated. These documents belong to us and we should ensure that our reps lets us know what is happening, and understand what the majority opinion is before further changes that might take place.

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Leaf It Out

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 09:28

Piccadilly Line trains management seem to have decided to haul drivers in for questioning, hoping that some intensive interrogation will magically improve the train service.

Managers appear to be nervous about the leaf fall season, and look like they are either setting up drivers to take the, erm, fall for the inevitable delays, or maybe thinking that by applying pressure, they can bludgeon drivers into inventing new techniques to stop wheels skidding on falling foliage. This is a strange strategy, given that all the evidence from recent troubles on the line points to other causes.

You may remember that management tried to blame drivers for the flatted wheels fiasco, only to be told by the formal investigation that drivers were in no way to blame. The real reasons, it turned out, were lack of vegetation control, poor communication between LUL and Tube Lines, and inadequate budgeting - all of which are rooted in privatisation.

Never wanting to allow the facts to get in the way of persecuting drivers, management have even gone so far as to use download information to accuse drivers. This is despite the fact that this information only tells them about the engagement of train circuits, not the actions of drivers.

Tubeworker's message to management? Leaf it out.

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SATS life?

Published on: Wed, 05/07/2017 - 20:52

The Area Manager at one busy Zone 1 station has opted for the stick over the carrot in response to some disappointing scorecard figures for staff presence on platforms. The AM has instructed CSMs and CSSs to make daily inspections of all SATS duties, effectively creating another level of performance management on top of the existing CMS.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to some ill feeling. The staff doing the SATS feel like they're being spied on and micromanaged, and most of the CSMs and CSSs are resentful at having to do this unnecessary task when they're already overworked.

We all know the scorecard system is largely a nonsense, a semi-arbitrary system capable of capturing mere snapshots, which managers care about far more because of the link to their bonuses than out of any sincere commitment to improving the service. But if there are genuine performance issues with SATS, these should be dealt with within the parameters of existing performance management and coaching procedures, rather than by forcing supervisors to undertake micromanagerial busywork.

Meanwhile, staff on some areas are being herded into "Managing My Platform" workshops, at which they're told that "mystery shoppers" will no longer be scoring them on what they say, but rather on their presence and whether they're delivering "personalised" messages. The idea is that a new automated PA system will handle the informational basics and service info, leaving staff free to remind customers to carry water (or whatever). "Put your own personality into your SATS", staff are told.

Well, here at Tubeworker, "putting our personality" into SATS announcements would probably involve using the RPA to engage in revolutionary socialist oration and excoriation of LU bosses, which is probably not what the company has in mind.

The whole thing raises a few issues for us. Firstly, we're not performers. Not everyone has the inclination to turn SATS into a stand-up comedy routine (and frankly, without wanting to speak ill of our fellow workers, a lot of those who try aren't very good at it). If staff doing SATS want to keep their announcements to the basics, delivered clearly and simply, they should be able to.

Secondly, if LU is effectively saying that what we're actually doing and saying on the platform is secondary, and as long as we're there and saying something, that's alright... then doesn't that strongly suggest they're considering downgrading the safety critical nature of SATS duties?

SATS, remember, are one of the few regular tasks performed on stations that CSA2s, the new entry grade for station staff, can't do. As soon as this grade was created, many of us suspected that it wouldn't be long before LU decided to quickly train them all up to perform the few safety-critical tasks not covered by their current licenses, and consolidate the CSA grades downwards. These reforms to SATS could be an outrider for precisely that.

Our unions need to stand up for SATS as a key safety critical activity. If LU want CSA2s to do SATS there's an easy solution: promote them all to CSA1 and scrap the CSA2 grade.

Tubeworker topics

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Admin Up In Arms

Published on: Tue, 28/03/2017 - 12:51

Stations, revenue, and SRT administrators have been presented with an "operational administration customer service charter", setting out what our "customers" - that is, station staff and managers - can expect from their admin teams.

Many admin feel this is deeply insulting and seems like telling us we aren't doing our jobs properly. To add insult to injury, this charter was sent to administrators only the day before the admin forum where it was presented as a done deal, with no opportunity for admin staff to have any say in the process.

Stations administrators, like station staff, have taken a battering in the "Fit for the Future" process, with huge amounts of additional work. This charter feels like a slap in the face for all that hard work.

Admin and station staff need to remember that we're all in the same side and not allow a "them and us" mentality to prevail.

Tubeworker topics

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Reinstatement now!

Published on: Fri, 18/09/2015 - 16:22

A Piccadilly Line driver has been sacked because he answered his phone in a stationary train in the depot. He secured his train and left the cab before doing so.

His workmates are preparing to ballot, and his union (RMT) has been building the campaign, with local activists putting out regular propaganda.

Tubeworker is amazed at management's decision to sack this driver. The way management has treated him is a risk to all Tube workers, because if the bosses are allowed to do it to one of us, they could do it to any of us.

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