LU bosses provoked widespread outrage on Friday, when they uploaded a new document on the role of CSA2s to the company Intranet.
The subject of the document - exactly what CSA2s can and can't do - has been the focus of negotiations between LU and union reps for months, negotiations that were very much ongoing. LU's decision to upload the document represented a clear attempt to bypass those talks.
The list of tasks that aren't part of the CSA2 role had been subtly altered, for example to suggest they could have more involvement in Persons-Ill-On-Trains situations. The document also included a new form of words, strongly opposed by unions, about whether CSA2s can be used as part of minimum numbers at "1+1" stations (stations where the minimum numbers comprise one supervisory grade worker and one CSA).
A swift response from union reps saw the document withdrawn, but the motivations behind uploading it remain. The creation of the CSA2 grade was a great bit of business from the company's point of view: a new corps of workers, paid £6,000 less than CSA1s and £11,000 less than the former ticket office staff, who can do customer service and cash handling work! The risk of "duty creep", of LU gradually adding more and more tasks that CSA2s could do until there was no distinction at all between 1s and 2s, was clear and present from the start. Many of us suspect LU's long-term aim is to abolish the CSA1 grade and give everyone another unpaid promotion, a la "Fit for the Future", where we're all expected to take on the responsibilities of the grade above but without the additional money. The uploading of this document suggests those suspicions are founded.
Unions need to be clear on what they're fighting for: we're not trying to restrict what CSA2s can and can't do for the sake of it, or because we love grade hierarchies. Quite the opposite: we want CSAs' training, licensing, and salaries to be levelled up, rather than levelled down. We want the CSA2 grade scrapped. But short of that, we can't let management pull a fast one by continuously bleeding the grades into each other as a precursor to scrapping the CSA1 grade.
With talks on our pay, terms, and conditions due to commence soon, ahead of the expiry of the current deal in 2019, workers need to be pushing our unions to put the issue of CSA2s front and centre.