Stratford no.1 branch minutes, 11th July 2007

Minutes of branch meeting, 11th July 2007, The George, 17:00

Attendance: Terry O’Neill, Chris Bluett, Rob Crowhurst, Dave Dean, Nino Meriano, Richard Loomes, John Latona, Martin Bell, Adrian Finney, Dave Pittman, Steve Rice, Kay Shatford, Brian Witham, Ash Malik, Nicola Higgins, Richard Millhouse, Allan Thomson, Mohammad Mujahid, Alan Deabill, Gary Weston, Den Fitzpatrick, Steve Read, John McConville, Rahim Faily, Janine Booth (taking minutes), Unjum Mirza (in the chair)

Guests: Jim McDaid (Bakerloo line branch), Steve Hedley (LU Engineering branch)

Apologies for absence: Bill O’Dowd (Chairperson - holiday), Martin Sharpe (Secretary - holiday), Peter Heyes (Assistant Secretary - holiday), Dave Garey, Gary Shaw

The Vice-Chair asked for nominations for a minute taker: Janine Booth, nominated by Terry O’Neill; seconded by Allan Thomson. No other nominations - Janine elected.

1. Minutes of the last meeting; correspondence

UM reported that these were not available due to the Secretary’s absence. Members expressed discontent that the Secretary had not ensured that the minutes and correspondence were brought to the meeting.

TO proposed that for future meetings, correspondence other than elections and membership be taken as the final item on the agenda. Vote: carried without opposition.

2. Election of Trustees (3) and Branch Committee (7)

3 Trustees. 3 nominations were received and all were duly elected: • Terry O’Neill, nominated by Kay Shatford, seconded by Ash Malik • Ash Malik, nominated by Terry O’Neill, seconded by Martin Bell • Martin Bell, nominated by Terry O’Neill, seconded by Nicola Higgins

It was agreed that the Assistant Secretary (Peter Heyes), Vice Chair (Unjum Mirza) and Newsletter Editor (Janine Booth) should be members of the Branch Committee.

This left 4 members of the Branch Committee to be elected. 4 nominations were received and all were duly elected: • Mohammed Muhajid, nominated by Terry O’Neill, seconded by Richard Millhouse • Allan Thomson, nominated by Terry O’Neill, seconded by Mohammed Muhajid • Kay Shatford, nominated by Martin Bell, seconded by Ash Malik • Steve Rice, nominated by Kay Shatford, seconded by Nicola Higgins

3. Bakerloo line lone working dispute

Jim McDaid reported. Management have imposed lone working for detrainment staff on the Bakerloo line. There will be a strike on Friday 20th, starting with previous day’s night turns. Jim asked for donation towards costs of travel, picketing and social event.

JB: proposed donating £100. Agreed. Believed that the union should coincide strike days on Silverlink with those on Bakerloo.

UM: proposed that our branch go to the picket at Queen’s Park, and said that the branch would fund travel expenses. Agreed.

4. Derailment

UM reported on the derailment at Mile End the previous Thursday. Explained how it happened. There have been several collisions with equipment in this area previously, but management had not acted on RMT’s complaints. This incident was caused by PPP.

RM: Metronet stores sleepers in suicide pits. Supposed to be short-term, but in some places for over a year. This can contribute to death and injury.

DF: LUL needs to be risk assessing more effectively.

JB: Information to stations as the situation developed was inadequate - the media knew more than station staff did. Central line platform PA at Bank was defective. Union health & safety reps should have the legal right to stop the job.

TO: Has received assurances from Peter Tollington re formal investigation.

KS: Metronet is also causing a lot of problems in stations refurbs. eg. Re-surfaced platform at Loughton caused molten tar to get onto a passenger’s bag.

DF: Rail is being stored within station limits under the jurisdiction of the TOM not the GSM.

AM: Incident at Woodford - wet varnish led to ticket office closure.

MB: There have been repeated incidents with Metronet. It has to stop!

UM replied: Health & safety and industrial reps played a really good role during the incident. All reps responded really well. The 7-day report will be out tomorrow. UM and TO are representing RMT on the FIR. There was a recent incident where a Station Supervisor’s arm was caught in the points when they were secured remotely without warning. On the day of the derailment, management used Bronze Control even though it does not exist in the new Rule Book!

5. Ticket Office closures

JB reported on reps’ meeting (3rd July), which had elected a campaign committee which met on 10th July. Concern about lack of leadership and slow response so far. Local reps now being consulted; need to record ‘failure to agree’. Company Council and Stations Council meet on 19th July; RMT will be protesting outside 55 Broadway at 09:45. We need to organise leafleting outside stations eg. St Paul’s, Weds 18th July, 13:00. Public/political campaign should build towards industrial action; leaflets alone will not stop this attack. Rally in September. Branches to have ‘ticket office closures’ as a standing item on their meetings’ agenda.

AF: Management accept that lots of assaults arise from ticketing disputes, so they know that their cuts are putting us at risk.

DP: Was also at reps’ meeting. Believes we can get public support.

DD: Ticket office closures make no sense.

MB: These closures will ensure that we don’t get our bonus.

JMcD: We need to convince drivers to support this campaign, especially on the issue of security and stations destaffing.

DF: We can convince drivers, because they need support from station staff in carrying out their duties.

UM: 77% of assaults are ticketing-related. LUL wants staff to collect excess fares. We can not fight this on a sectional basis; need to link with other grades and other issues.

KS: These cuts are bad for customers because they need ticket offices for eg. warrants, customer charter refunds, privs etc. We should log all incidents concerning this.

AM: You can not upgrade Oysters customers who go out of zone without the ticket office being open.

JMcD: LUL’s plan is to have excess fares paid onto an Oyster card held by gateline staff. But there will be no change available!

JB replied: Urges station staff to attend RMT Station Grades meeting, Thursday 26th July, 15:00, Exmouth Arms, Starcross Street, near Euston.

Agreed to leaflet the public - meet at Buckhurst Hill station on Wednesday 18th July at 07:00.

6. Pensions dispute

UM reminded everyone to vote - and to canvass members to vote - Yes in the current industrial action ballot.

7. Buses report

JMcC reported. Management attempts to discipline staff had been defeated. Security issues at depots with drivers working alone. Trying to get RMT noticeboard, but management refused as RMT not recognised. Recruitment going well.

Vacancy for health & safety rep: Alan Hunter: nominated by John McConville, seconded by Rahim Faily. Elected.

John and Alan need to be booked on to training courses.

8. Guest - Steve Hedley, LU Engineering branch

(a) LU Engineering branch is sponsoring relaunch of the Campaign for a Fighting Democratic Union (CFDU). They are dissatisfied with calling off Rule Book dispute and the union leadership’s apparent capitulation to the anti-union laws. We have to stop East London line privatisation and will have to confront the anti-union laws to do so. Organising meeting: 22nd August, 18:00, Cock Tavern - also discussing current issues eg. ticket office closures.

(b) Mumia Abu-Jamal - There is a campaign to save this black American activist from the death penalty after being wrongly convicted of murdering a police officer. Please support.

Agreed to support Mumia campaign and donate £100. Agreed to co-sponsor CFDU meeting.

JMcC: There should be an anti-privatisation candidate for Mayor against Livingstone next year.

TO: Supports CFDU and will attend meeting.

JMcD: Union leadership appears to have lost the will to fight.

KS: Reported on husband’s experience of privatisation as P-way worker.

9. AGM Report

UM reported. Stratford’s two appeals re. 1. investigation into branch and 2. complaint about branch officers’ conduct, were carried. A motion on the Rule Book, opposing the Executive’s calling off the dispute, was defeated by one vote. UM had spoken in favour, and 7 regional delegates had voted in favour, but one (Brian Munro) had spoken and voted against, which had caused the vote to be lost.

TO: Question: Did the branch submit the second appeal re. officers’ conduct?

JB: Reported that apparently, the Branch Chair (Bill O’Dowd) had written to head office advising that he was not going to submit the appeal even though the branch had voted for it due to being unsure that he had counted the vote correctly. The Executive had noted that his account of the branch meeting and vote had contradicted those of the Regional Organiser and Executive members who had attended the branch.

UM: The Branch Chair should account for the alleged letter at the next branch meeting. Argued that industrial fights are more important than complaints about branch.

JB: Disagreed. Did not accept that industrial fights and branch democracy are counterposed - rather, they rely on each other.

MB: Agreed with JB. Branch democracy is the foundation of the union. A building without solid foundations will collapse.

AT: Question: How did UM vote on the two appeals?

UM: Abstained (later corrected this to say that he voted against 1. and abstained on 2.) He had spoken on both, but neither for nor against.

KS: Felt let down by UM not supporting the branch’s appeals.

10. Members’ cases

AM: reported on changes to hearing tests.

TO: T/Op suffering from noise pollution at home from LUL property had altercation with management.

RM: T/Op who had one-under - receiving counselling.

JB: Bank SAMF denied promotion unfairly - RMT is providing legal support for application for compensation.

MB: his own case re. Back injury caused by accident at work - medical appointment soon.

TO: DF, case first raised at April branch meeting, malicious campaign by neighbour. DF reported progress with case.

UM: proposed that we invite driver of derailed train and local reps (including TSSA rep) to a future branch meeting, and recognise their excellent response to the incident with some money put behind the bar. Agreed.

11. Resolutions

There was some discussion re. Status of April branch meeting. We await a new decision by the Executive about this.

(a) AT - Proposed that the branch submits a resolution to the Regional Council supporting CFDU. Agreed.

Further resolutions adjourned until after AOB.

12. Other business

(a) Election of Cleaners’ Liaison Officer.

Adrian Finney - nominated by Steve Rice, seconded by Martin Bell. Elected.

(b) MB: Jubilee line stock training for new drivers has been condensed into only ten days. Far too short, rushed, inadequate, with high failure rate. This is due to be spread to other lines, and the union should try to get it stopped. JB reported that she had got a referral to functional on this from level one this morning.

(c) UM: We should fully support the current postal workers’ dispute. Members welcome to attend Mount Pleasant picket line.

(d) RM - Epping TMR has been changed to a disabled passengers’ facility, but no replacement facility has been provided for drivers. TO is on the case.

11. (continued) Resolutions

(b) This branch should have the right to debate all motions offered to the Regional Council in advance. The branch should formulate its position on any motions by debate and democratic mandate. Once agreement has been reached on the proposed motion, the branch will then send representatives to the Regional Council to vote only in accordance with branch wishes, without deviation.

Proposed by AT, seconded JB.

UM: against: delegates should not be bound by mandate, but should be allowed to make up their minds having listened to the debate at the Regional Council.

Vote: Passed, with 2 votes against.

(c) This branch will elect the branch’s representatives to attend Regional Council meetings to debate and vote on behalf of the branch.

Proposed by AT, seconded TO.

Passed with no votes against.

(d) I ask the branch to debate a motion of no confidence in our Branch Secretary, Martin Sharpe, for not conducting the mandated request of the branch: 1. Not providing the Accounts of the Branch as agreed in February/March 2006. 2. Not carrying out the request of the branch for a postal shot and advertisements. 3. That Martin Sharpe overstepped his remit by sending a letter of complaint/investigation on behalf of Bobby Law without the consent of the branch officials or its members. 4. Not attending branch meetings.

Proposed by MB, seconded TO.

UM spoke against, arguing that the resolution should not be passed at a meeting where MS was not present to defend himself. It is a basic democratic principle that people should not be voted out of office without a chance to defend themselves.

KS: responded that MS had not attended 3 of the last 4 branch meetings, and had not provided minutes or correspondence in his absence.

TO: believes MS to be incompetent, and to have repeatedly failed to carry out branch decisions.

AM: asked why MS could not use unpaid leave to attend meetings.

GW: believed that the resolution should be deferred to next month’s meeting.

MB: asked if anyone could guarantee that MS would be present at the next meeting.

JMcC: argued that the proposal should not be tabled because MS is absent; argued that as union reps, we would not stand for an employer disciplining a union member at a hearing that they were not at.

JB: responded if a member repeatedly failed to attend hearings, the employer would try them in their absence; it would be hard for the rep to argue against this. Outlined that at the April branch meeting, MB had moved this resolution and JB had ruled from the chair that it could not be taken because MS was entitled to notice and a chance to defend himself. MS was notified via the minutes. He had now had enough notice and opportunities to defend himself, and members are entitled to exercise their right to hold officers accountable. Not speaking for or against ‘no confidence’.

UM: Suggested that the way to resolve this was that he would rule the resolution out of order on the grounds of MS’s absence. The meeting could then overturn his ruling by removing him from the chair if it so wished.

UM: ruled the resolution out of order.

TO: proposed removing UM from the chair; seconded MB.

Agreed that AT should take the chair for this procedural motion.

TO spoke in favour: Members should not have to wait any longer to move a resolution they had been trying to move since April, noting that the branch was barred from discussing MS’s conduct re the April meeting at the May meeting, and that members had refrained from proposing ‘no confidence’ at the June meeting because MS was absent. They were now running out of patience.

UM spoke against, explaining that although he understood members’ grievances regarding the Branch Secretary, this was not the right way to go about it. Urged members to be consistent in their claims to want democratic processes within the branch.

Vote: 9 in favour, 8 against. Carried.

AT elected chair for remainder of business.

TO proposed suspension of standing orders to extend time of meeting to conclude this resolution; seconded JL. Agreed without opposition.

JMcC raised a point of order that the minutes should record the time that the vote on removing UM from the chair was taken, as he believed that it was after the scheduled closing time of the meeting.

JB (minute-taker) attempted to respond, but was continually interrupted by JMcC. AT asked JMcC to be quiet and respect other speakers; JMcC refused; AT asked JMcC to leave the meeting if he would not stop interrupting; JMcC refused.

Vote on resolution of ‘no confidence’ in Branch Secretary: 11 in favour, 1 against, 1 abstention. Carried.

Meeting closed at 19:30.