Funding the Tube

St James Park station at 55 Broadway

Disposing of our heritage

Published on: Sat, 16/03/2019 - 14:51

55 Broadway is to be 'disposed of' according to an article on the TfL intranet. That is crass language for the privatisation of such an iconic LU building; funded by taxes or passenger fares.

This happening as a result of a political choice to end tube subsidies, made by the Tory party as they don't wish to tax their own wealthy class a fair amount. TfL argues it is having to make cuts, usually spun as savings, though it is doing so without much of a fight from senior management or from our Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan.

It is likely that once sold 55 Broadway will be turned into flats for rich people. The same rich people who don't want to pay any tax which is why the building had to be flogged off by LU initially.

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Sticky Stick Rip-off

Published on: Fri, 08/03/2019 - 10:43

Apparently, LUL pays £1,300 a go for a Track Retrieval Device.

That might sound quite reasonable if it were actually a 'device' in the popular understanding of the word. But it is a stick with a sticky pad on the end. Hence its usual moniker among station staff - the 'sticky stick'.

Private companies which make stuff like this must think that LUL is run by a bunch of suckers who will put their hands deep into their corporate pockets for any simple gadget they can come up with.

Shame their hands won't go so deep so easily in our pay talks, but at least when they claim to have no money, we can deploy our own Truth Retrieval Device.

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Bring the Jobs Fights Together!

Published on: Fri, 08/02/2019 - 14:40

Many grades in many locations are suffering under the destaffing over recent years, or are facing imminent cuts to jobs.

The unions - primarily RMT - are fighting back on several fronts. RMT has scored some successes, including on Bakerloo South stations groups and the cleaning contractor, ABM.

Now, more stations groups are going into action, and the union is gearing up for battles against a 2009 agreement on trains that restricts depot staffing levels, and threatened cuts to train prep.

Moreover, other issues under dispute - for example, the ludicrous red tabards, or unacceptable rosters or ticketing problems - are rooted in staff shortages.

Our fightback will be stronger if we fight the roots cause rather than just the symptoms. The more we can bring these disparate disputes together, the better.

This might be easier said than done, particularly since the imposition of difficult-to-reach ballot thresholds by the 2016 Trade Union Act, but with the will and the effort, it can be done. And even if we don't feel ready to call everyone out on strike yet, we can synchronise ballots and actions in different areas.

Moreover, the root cause has a root cause too, as under-staffing is the result of under-funding. Tubeworker would like to see our unions campaign more stridently against the government's cut to TfL's funding and TfL's failure to fight that cut.

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Labour rank-and-file challenge Tory cuts and Sadiq Khan's failures

Published on: Sun, 06/01/2019 - 21:00

London Labour Party members are set to debate a resolution condemning both the Tory government's cut to TfL funding and Sadiq Khan's decision to implement rather than fight the cuts. The resolution, which has already been passed by one branch, is copied here.

TRANSPORT FOR LONDON

This conference condemns the savage cuts in funding to Transport for London by the Conservative government, which expects London Underground to be the only major metro system in the world to run without public subsidy.

This conference notes:
1. Transport for London’s plans to cut bus routes and London Overground ticket offices, adversely affecting working-class areas and access to public transport for poor and disabled people
2. that cleaners on London Underground and elsewhere on TfL are employed by contractors and agencies at very low rates of pay, with minimal rights to sick pay and leave
3. that TfL has awarded its top bosses pay rises of up to 74%

This conference would expect such policies from a Conservative Mayor and GLA, and is seriously disappointed to see them implemented by a Labour administration.

This conference further notes that Labour party members will be campaigning for Labour’s candidate for Mayor this year, and wish to do so on the basis of progressive, socialist policies rather than having to defend indefensible policies such as those listed above.

This conference calls on Labour’s Mayor and GLA members to:
1. launch a major campaign against the funding cut rather than implementing it with minimal protest
2. abandon its plans to cut bus routes and close ticket offices
3. boost the pay of its workers, especially the lowest-paid, rather than its highest-paid managers
4. bring contracted-out services such as cleaning, catering and maintenance functions into direct TfL ownership and control

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Underneath the Sta(i)rs

Published on: Fri, 21/12/2018 - 18:43

In what appears to be a personal contract across multiple cover groups, Mariah Carey is the newest member of station staff at Waterloo, Stratford and London Bridge. Although Tubeworker hasn't spotted her on the gateline.

Perhaps the Mayor can ask for some of her reported $520m (Earning only slightly less than a Train Op, h/t the Evening Standard) to plug the central government funding gap. Sister Carey has taken over the safety announcements, reminding people to stand behind the yellow line and to hold on to the handrail...Oh and she gets to plug her new album too.

At this time it's not clear how much she has been paid but no doubt, against all odds an intrepid FOI request from a respectable journalist will get to the bottom of it. Tubeworker just asks that she don't forget about us if she goes back to her potentially less lucrative career.

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Silence is Golden

Published on: Thu, 04/10/2018 - 13:56

Tubeworker is pleased to hear that London Underground Ltd has apparently seen sense over its disastrous plan to allow adverts to be broadcast at its stations.
We would like to take the credit for this, as the backtracking followed on the heels of Tubeworker's rant, sorry we mean, post about the issue. We know, however, that we were not the only ones to make our objections known, not least of all, people who understood the distressing impact this would have on autistic passengers, for whom the Underground is already a hostile environment.
We will stay alert, though, as the withdrawal of government funding to the Tube will push management into more and more ludicrous money-raising ideas.

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RIP RCT

Published on: Thu, 30/08/2018 - 11:06

LU has announced that the planned “Rostering and Coverage Tool”, a semi-automated system for covering duties on stations, swapping duties and annual leave, etc., will be scrapped.

It was already years (literally) behind schedule. Anyone who came into contact with test versions could see it wasn’t fit for purpose. It should’ve been abandoned long before now.

The real question is: how much money has LU spent on this utter folly? In all likelihood we’re talking about millions of pounds, handed over to external companies in return for precisely nothing. And they tell us there’s no money available to fund additional staff?

This is an absolute scandal that our unions must publicly expose.

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Wot No Funding? Wot No Fightback?

Published on: Thu, 16/08/2018 - 14:28

Attacks on our jobs and conditions are coming thick and fast. Cleaners still working for appalling pay, a cull of admin staff, stations struggling with skeleton staffing levels, unfair sackings, anti-social hours ... and you can be sure that whatever pay rise our employers are planning, it will not be generous. The big impetus behind this is the Tory government's policy of cutting TfL's funding until London Underground runs without any operating subsidy at all.

Management and the Mayor would evidently rather implement these cuts than resist them. Why, they ask themselves, punch upwards at your political masters rather than punch downwards at the workers and passengers? As ever, it is down to us to fight in our own interests.

But while the unions are fighting important battles on particular issues, they seem rather quieter on the big picture. This amounts to treating the symptoms of an illness rather than the illness itself - it's better than doing nothing, but not as effective as going to the source. We have strikes by workers in various depots over local issues, but where is the build-up to an industrial and political fight to reverse the funding cut? Even a decision by RMT's regional council last year to call a rank-and-file conference to plan such a campaign seems to have come to nothing so far.

So come on, comrades - let's step up this battle!

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Commercial Hell

Published on: Mon, 13/08/2018 - 17:55

Just when you thought that the noise of a busy Tube station could not get any worse, management have come up with a way to do it. Yes - they are planning to allow audio adverts to be broadcast over station PAs. It'll be like working in the midst of commercial radio hell, only without the occasional breaks for music and news.

On top of the boundless irritation, there are obvious risks to how we operate stations and maintain safety. Presumably advertisers are not going to take kindly to their broadcasts being interrupted by PAs about service disruption, lost children, last trains or moving along platforms. And while there will no doubt be provision for important safety announcements to override commercials, by then half the passengers will have tuned out from taking any notice of anything they are hearing. And who knows the ways in which passengers might misunderstand and react accordingly?

Meanwhile, management continually talk about world-class customer service and ask about how we can improve ambience and customer service. Not like this.

We can only assume that this ludicrous idea is driven by desperation. Faced with the government removing all of the Underground's operating subsidy, various bright sparks are casting around for ways to fill the funding gap. If this is the answer, it must have been a pretty daft question. We suggest that a better question would be: How can we fight the funding cut?

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Fight the Funding Cut

Published on: Thu, 21/12/2017 - 14:50

The Tory government has savagely cut Transport for London’s funding. TfL will lose £700m per year over the next five years, and from this coming year onwards, it will receive no public grants towards its operations.

This will make London the only capital city in Europe – and one of the only cities in the world – that receives no government funding towards its operations. Aside from a small income from things like advertising and rent, urban public transport systems have only two sources of income: grants and fares. Scrapping the operating grant means that the whole cost of running London’s transport will fall on farepayers.

Other cities do not run their transport like this.

In France, employers pay a tax – a percentage of their total wage bill – which goes straight to the local transport system. Some rural areas have used this to make public transport free; urban areas like Paris use it as a funding base which is then supplemented by fares, which are considerably lower than in London.

New York and other US cities fund their transport systems through a variety of taxes – on petrol, on business, on sales – as well as issuing bonds secured against future revenues.

From Bucharest to Berlin, urban public transport gets public subsidy. Similar funding systems could operate in London.

Better ways of funding the Tube

Millions of pounds change hands in the City of London every day. Landlords charge a fortune for homes and business premises that boast decent transport links. Companies across the capital make money from the labours of their workers and the spending of their customers – both brought to them by our public transport system. Why not make them pay?

Because the Conservatives are the party of the City, the landlords and of big business. And they don’t want their mates to foot the bill.

What will result?

Unless we turn back this funding cut, we face cuts to jobs, services and standards.

We can anticipate Fit for the Future – This, That and the Other. We can expect further reductions in staffing levels and cuts to the frequency of maintenance checks; tightening the screw on discipline and attendance; and maybe a shot at our pensions. Projects that could have improved the service and created jobs will be scrapped.

And in 2019, management will not be generous with our pay offer – we will have to fight for every penny.

Where is the Mayor?

Londoners elected a Labour Mayor because they did not want cuts. And yet Sadiq Khan is implementing these cuts without barely a protest.
TfL has already ordered a review of London Overground, with the intended outcome of closing ticket offices and cutting staff numbers and conditions.

Political protest

The Labour Party’s grassroots membership will not be happy with this capitulation to cuts. Three-quarters of London members have joined Labour since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, indicating that they want a more left-wing, pro-working-class party.

Where Tube workers have raised the issue of cuts within the Labour Party, they have received enthusiastic support. For example, Hackney South and Shoreditch Constituency Labour Party agreed unanimously to campaign against the London Overground cuts.

If you are a Labour member, raise the issue at your next meeting. Tubeworker is happy to help you with this. If not, then join! If you are in a Labour-affiliated union – TSSA, ASLEF or Unite – then get your union to raise this issue within the Labour Party. If you are in RMT, then this is just one more reason for the union to re-affiliate to Labour.

We can also ally with passenger groups, communities, and disabled people’s campaigns.

Fighting back

TfL workers have great potential power to stop these cuts. If we wait to be attacked, and battle each attack as it comes, then we will be sliced off salami-style, and although we may win some, we will lose some too. We will be much stronger if we pull together a united, co-ordinated plan of action – all grades, all TfL companies, all unions.

Tubeworker is pleased to see that RMT’s London Transport Regional Council has agreed to host a rank-and-file conference in the new year to plan its fightback. This could be the launch of a movement that can stop the cuts.

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