Night Tube News November 2016

Dear fellow Night Tube staff

From next Wednesday, RMT stations and revenue staff will be refusing to work overtime, as part of our campaign to restore cut jobs and improve working conditions for all station staff. That includes us. I am writing to urge you to take part in this action - in order words, NOT to work overtime.

What are we taking action about?
Some Night Tube staff, such as myself, have been on London Underground a long time. But many are relatively new - perhaps so new that you have not personally experienced how much worse conditions are now compared with how they were before Fit for the Future Stations. But your workmates have probably told you, and anyway, you know what the problems are:

  • Not enough staff, leaving us overworked and vulnerable to assault and abuse. Most Night Tube station staff have been abused verbally, sexually or physically. If we put up with this any longer, it will become accepted as 'part of the job'. It is not. We want to stop lone working and short-staffing.
  • Unstaffed control rooms. Even those station control rooms which are staffed during the day often become unstaffed at 23:00 - just as we are all booking on for work! This makes it harder for us to call for help in a difficult or emergency situation. It also leaves us standing on our feet for most or all of our busy night shifts.
  • Carrying out duties that used to be done for a significantly higher rate of pay. Many of us now deal with ticket selling and ticketing problems. This used to be done by the now-scrapped grade of SAMF for a significantly higher wage than CSA1s and especially CSA2s get now.
  • Lack of choice over transfer or promotion. Many of us want to work nearer to home, and some of us want to work full-time. When LUL cut the number of station staff by nearly 900 under FftFS, it seriously restricted our options. If we can force the company to reverse the cuts and restore (at least some of) the cut jobs, our opportunities to transfer, go full-time or get promoted will increase.

How was this action decided?
All stations and revenue RMT members had a vote in a ballot for strike and 'action short of strikes'. An overwhelming majority voted 'yes' (85% for strikes; 94% for 'action short'). The union's national executive then called the overtime ban, which is a form of 'action short of strikes'. All our local and functional council RMT stations reps told the executive that this is the action that they and the members wanted. We took this decision together. We all had a say. Now, whichever way you as an individual voted, we all have to respect the result and carry out the action together. That's the democratic way that we do things. (By the way, does anyone remember the company balloting us over whether we wanted 900 jobs to be cut? No, me neither!) 

How does the overtime ban work and what does it aim to achieve?
After 00:01 on Wednesday 23 November, don't do any overtime or rest day working.
London Underground stations are desperately short-staffed and are being kept open by staff working overtime. When we stop doing this, the stations will close, and the company will have to take action to address the shortage of staff. It will have to reverse its job cuts.
We are professional railway workers who want to keep our stations open. Those staff who work overtime benefit from the extra pay too - 15 hours work does not bring in much! But if we look past the (very) short term, we can see that genuine professionals will take action now to defend our stations, our passengers, our jobs and our income in the longer term.

Am I allowed to refuse to do overtime or work my rest day?
Yes. Overtime is voluntary anyway. No-one can make you do it, even if there is not a union overtime ban in place.
With the union calling an overtime ban, you have even more right to refuse to work overtime. This is properly-called, lawful industrial action. You can not be penalised in any way for refusing to work overtime. This also applies to staff who are on probation.

What if I'm not in the RMT?
Join! You can take part in the industrial action even if you were not a member at the time of the ballot.

The overtime ban is for everyone - for all our benefit, and for all staff to take part in. It is not just an action for full-timers or weekday workers, or for people who have been on the job for years. Staff Our Stations - don't work overtime.

Janine Booth

Night Tube members' rep
RMT Finsbury Park branch