RMT to Ballot 1500 Tube maintenance workers over Night Tube and pensions

Tube union RMT confirmed today that a ballot for action involving nearly 1500 Tube Lines maintenance and engineering staff over Night Tube pay and pensions will open today - Tuesday 3rd May - and close on Tuesday 24th May 2016. 

The dispute is over the companies refusal to discuss outstanding pensions issues until after the eventual launch of the Night Tube operation.  There are also major unresolved issues over Night Tube staffing arrangements and a threat to undermine PRP agreements through Tube Lines refusing to base budgets on the negotiated levels of Performance Related Pay. 

The key issues at the heart of the dispute in detail are:

Pay & Night Tube
There are some important differences between the London Underground offer and the Tube Lines offer which are unacceptable to RMT. Firstly, the wording in the LUL offer refers to an “all-night passenger service operation on a Friday and Saturday night”, whereas the Tube Lines offer refers to “a 24-hour passenger service operation”. RMT Reps have sought clarification on this point and management admitted that acceptance would mean agreeing to the principle of 24-hour running any night – this could mean running more than 2 nights at Bank Holidays or Special Events.

Secondly, LUL has recruited more staff where additional resources are needed, for example additional Night Tube CSAs and new ‘part time’ Train Operators. The position from Tube Lines is that all staff have to work on Night Tube and all rosters will be changed to reflect this: “Full implementation of the Sunday to Thursday rosters to support Night Tube Operations”. The response from RMT is that Tube Lines members should also be given the same opportunities as BCV and LUL workers and allowed to opt out and if necessary move to SSL Lines. 

Pensions
Tube Lines came under the umbrella of TfL in 2011 and RMT representatives have been demanding that former Tube Lines employees are given the same pension and travel rights as other LUL employees. In respect of the latter this has been concluded but due to managements’ stance the pensions issue is yet to be resolved.

After lengthy discussions on cost efficiencies to pay for pensions for all Tube Lines members an agreement and time scale was agreed between RMT, Tube Lines, LUL & TFL in 2015. However management demanded a no strike clause be added to the agreement. 

Although the union has been in discussions with TFL/LUL/TLL, talks were halted when LUL started pay negotiations and since then the company have refused to talk to the RMT about the pensions issue. Tube Lines management are now demanding that the pay offer is accepted and Night Tube is launched and running successfully before they will reopen discussions on pensions.

Without agreement on these other issues RMT members are being refused pension parity with their LUL colleagues.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said: 

“RMT members are furious at the cynical way that Tube Lines have attempted to tie in attacks on pensions with the offer on Pay and Night Tube and our reps for this group of over a thousand safety-critical staff have unanimously thrown the whole package out. As a result, the ballot for both strike action and action short of a strike opens today.

“There are also major unresolved issues over the Tube Lines staffing arrangements for the Night Tube.

“It is absolutely essential now that there is the earliest possible resumption of serious and meaningful talks on these issues and the union is ready to engage in those talks. 

 “In the meantime, the ballot continues .”

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