Thirty-three Tube workers face unemployment unless a battle to save their jobs is successful.
The workers are employed by the Trainpeople agency and work on London Underground stations, with full LU training and wearing LU uniforms.
Some of them have worked on the Tube for over five years, and have even been used to train new staff. But on 19 December, Trainpeople told them LU would not be renewing their contracts and that they would have no new work as of 16 January. The background to the sackings is the arrival of fifteen new directly-employed staff onto the Wembley Central stations group (north of Queens Park on the Bakerloo Line), where the Trainpeople staff work. The Trainpeople workers were not given equal opportunity to apply for these vacancies, despite being entitled to do so. Trainpeople workers’ applications to previous recruitments had been blocked or rejected en masse in favour of people with less experience.
The workers’ union, the Rail, Maritime, and Transport union (RMT), has opposed the use of agency labour on the Tube and has argued for the workers to be taken in-house. Trainpeople have been used by London Underground since 2007 despite a dispute settlement in 2008 that the use of agency staff would last a maximum of six months.
The 33 Trainpeople workers are now engaged in a desperate fight for their jobs, against a management that sees workers as expendable commodities to be picked up and tossed aside at will.
A demonstration at Wembley Central station on Monday 7 February drew support from other LU staff as well as local community campaigns and Labour Party figures.
Many of the Trainpeople workers have become involved with the rank-and-file Tubeworker bulletin, and they produced a special issue of the bulletin to explain and publicise their campaign to other LU workers.
Trainpeople worker speaks out
“I have been working for London Underground Limited (LUL) on behalf of Trainpeople for over four years, on the Wembley Central Group on the Bakerloo Line and Kew Gardens and Gunnersbury Stations on the District Line.
On 19 December 2012, I got an email from Trainpeople management explaining that there will be no more work with Trainpeople for LUL from 16 January, but also that I was offered no shifts from 5 January.
I have my bills, rent, and retired parents to look after. Now that LUL and Trainpeople have made us redundant and I have got no other means of income, it has depressed and stressed me.
I feel like there is no place for good and hard working people in this world. This is what we get for working hard for LUL for over four years.
I now have sleepless nights worrying about my job.
On 16 January I will be forced out of a job that I have worked and loved for the past five years.
I have transformed my life by working hard and earning honest money. Myself and my husband have been married for the past ten years, trying to have a child. Due to medical reasons, we have had to seek the help of private fertility clinics and we all know that costs an arm and a leg. I have applied for a directly-employed Customer Service Assistant job on LU twice and been told I am not good enough to do the job I am already doing.
The feeling of knowing I was financially secure has been taken away from me. The thought of me seeking help for my basic needs through the government makes me lose hope.
I am a hard-working citizen who wants to be given the chance to better my family’s life.”