Tube Lines Newsletter: Pensions Latest

'Reintegration' brings new threat to pensions and conditions

RMT has slammed plans to transfer some Tube Lines clerical and project staff back in-house to TfL and London Underground without pension or travel facilities, and has threatened industrial action to defend the terms and conditions of its members.

General Secretary Bob Crow said that while proposals to re-integrate some staff into TfL and LUL may sound positive after the long-running PPP Tube privatisation fiasco, the 700 or so staff involved would not be allowed to join the TfL pension fund. “Combined with the refusal to match travel facilities with existing staff, this erosion of conditions would create a two-tier workforce and undermine the entire pension fund.

“It's not enough for management of functions to be integrated but the workforce to remain divided and unequal.”

-Janine Booth, RMT Executive

This is a direct attack on the TfL pension fund as it cuts off new funding and will allow management to further attack existing terms and conditions. RMT has grave concerns about this and any further staffing reductions and these attacks will be resisted using industrial action if necessary,” he said.

RMT issued a press release about this issue on Friday 15 March.

Management's plans:

  • 19 April: Staff in Tube Lines' support functions to transfer to TfL.
  • 19 April: Tube Lines Project staff to transfer to London Underground Ltd's Capital Programmes Directorate.
  • Transferring staff will not be allowed to join the TfL Pension Scheme.
  • Operational staff will not transfer, but will remain with the Amey-controlled rump Tube Lines.
  • London Underground workers will be 'benchmarked' against transferred staff.

The devil in the detail

Brian Whitehead (RMT Regional Organiser, lead officer to Tube Lines) reports:
On Friday 8 March, RMT Company Council reps and I attended a meeting with Phil Hufton and Tube Lines management to discuss the dispute over passes and pensions.

Management made clear that they would only give passes and pensions if the money could be found through savings: by some work currently done by contractors and agencies being brought back in-house; and savings due to the duplication of tasks being carried out by Tube Lines and APD, mainly in support areas, after these staff transfer to LUL/TfL. Phil Hufton suggested that there would be a reduction of 300 to 350 posts over a minimum of three years, which would be achieved through voluntary severance.
We discussed the costs of around £8.5m for pensions and £2.5m for passes. RMT disputed these figures, especially the cost of passes - a separate meeting to discuss this will take place on 19 March. RMT said that if the figure for passes were inflated and the true cost considerably less, then this could be achieved much sooner than they expected.

Phil Hufton stated that the answer to the pensions issue was no longer 'no' but was now achievable, and that he intended to give TfL pensions to all Tube Lines staff no later than April 2014.
A further meeting took place on 13 March, and management sent out an internal communication whilst we were actually still at the meeting! When we arrived, we discovered it was an initial consultation meeting regarding the TUPE transfer of a large number of Tube Lines staff to either TfL or LUL. The staff concerned are in support services such as HR and Finance, and Projects. This will also have a serious knock-on effect, such as the severe reduction in opportunities for promotion and redeployment for the remaining Tube Lines staff.

Management said that the staff transferring into TfL/LUL would retain their Tube Lines pensions and not move to the TfL pension scheme, and that they intend to change the rules of the Tube Lines pension scheme to allow this.

We said we consider this unacceptable. We have a second consultation meeting scheduled for Thursday 21 March, where we should see the breakdown of staff in greater detail along with far deeper discussions.
RMT has asked Tube Lines to release all our reps to attend a meeting at Unity House on 26 March at 10:00 to discuss the implications of the meetings with Tube Lines.

John Leach (RMT Regional Organiser, lead officer for LUL and TfL), reports:

"The proposal to re-integrate sounds good, but the consequences are that there would be a two-tier workforce, and that management would have split the London Underground workforce's pension provision."

- John Leach, RMT LT Regional Organiser

RMT attended two meetings on 13 and 14 March – one for Tube Lines, another for London Underground. There is another meeting on 18 March with TfL.

At the meetings, management said that the 700-odd staff who transfer would not be allowed to join the TfL Pension fund and did not say that travel facilities would be honoured.

The proposal to re-integrate sounds good, but the consequences are that there would be a two-tier workforce, and that management would have split the London Underground workforce's pension provision. This is an attack on the TfL Pension Fund, as it denies new funding. Also management will benchmark staff costs, which they will use to attack existing terms and conditions.

I attended the meeting with London Underground with RMT representatives from the Track and Fleet functional councils. We stated that our union was against this development on pensions in the strongest terms.
Management want more talks, and have said that the transfers will take place on the 19th April and organisational changes will flow from them.
We have grave concerns about pensions and staffing reductions, and will resist these using industrial action if necessary.

Paul Jackson (RMT LU Engineering Branch Secretary) writes:
LUL/TfL are TUPEing some staff in, but are refusing to allow them LUL travel rights (point-to-point) and entry to the TfL final salary pension scheme. This means a two-tier workforce in and on our own doorsteps. Colleagues working side by side with different terms.

Added to this some collective issues such as MATS staff (Q grades) being on full performance-related-pay and not the union-negotiated rate, means a direct attack on our collective bargaining strengths.

"The Tube Lines fight for pension and travel justice is rapidly becoming a fight for all London Underground and TfL workers"

- Paul Jackson, RMT LU Engineering Branch Secretary

The vast majority of staff are remaining with Tube Lines, which will be run as an Infraco organisation, turning the clock turned back to PPP days.

We will then be benchmarked against people on an inferior pension scheme and associated costs. We will get slaughtered by this benchmarking. That's without the obvious setting up for future privatisation. Remember the Tories are not renowned for nationalisation. This will be the third tier of the workforce.
The Tube Lines fight for pension and travel justice is rapidly becoming a fight for all London Underground and TfL workers. We will wear the same overalls, the same HiVis and logos, and they will be the anvil that LUL will use to beat us with in the future.

Runaway train

Tube Lines, London Underground and Schweerbau GMBH have each been fined £100,000 after pleading guilty to endangering passengers and staff.

In the early morning of 13 August 2010, a 37-tonne Rail Grinding Unit (RGU) ran back southwards down a gradient towards central London, travelling 6.9km and coming within one minute of hitting a passenger train before coming to a halt. No-one was hurt, but only due to the swift and effective action of staff.

The same RGU, operated by private contactor Schweerbau, had broken down on the Jubilee line less than a month earlier. A Tube Lines manager decided that a modified emergency coupler was needed, but that until this was available, the existing coupler could be used. On Friday 13 August, it broke.

Commenting on the fines, Bob Crow said:
“This near miss, where tragedy was only avoided by a few hundred metres, underlines the importance of maintaining the highest possible safety standards on the tube where no one is put under any pressure to cut corners – and yet that is exactly the pressure our members are under right now with maintenance and staffing cuts still on the agenda.

The runaway grinder incident back in August 2010, and today's court outcome, reinforces RMT’s case for a halt to the on-going cuts process to jobs and maintenance schedules that is undermining and diluting safety procedures across the Tube network and which continue to create the perfect conditions for a major disaster.”

Pay update

We are currently in year 4 of the five-year pay deal. It was agreed that year 4 would be based on the actual RPI in January 2013 (is published in February) + 0.5% or a minimum 2% whichever is the greater.
The RPI figure for January was 3.3%, which means an increase in pay for this year of 3.8%, effective and implemented from 1 April 2013.

Vehicle policy

RMT has circulated this model text for members to sign and give to management:
I have been advised by the Rail Maritime and Transport workers Union of which I am a member, that it has not agreed the Tube Lines Vehicle Policy.

I would like to state that I have been given a copy of this policy, and accept and understand this policy to the best of my abilities.

However I am not at the present time prepared to sign for or agree to this policy. Even though I may have decided to complete the DVLA Mandate, this action should not be taken as my agreement to this policy, nor does this action take away my legal right in the future to withdraw the Mandate or refuse its renewal.

Please accept this letter as confirmation that I have been issued with a copy of this policy, but this letter is not to be considered as my agreement to all or any of the sections of this policy.

ISS attacks cleaners' conditions

Having won the renewal of its contract with Tube Lines, ISS has launched multiple attacks on cleaning staff:

  • refusing to implement the annual increase in the London Living Wage until six months after it is announced;
  • ‘Bradford Factor’ attendance rules ;
  • new rostering, extending the unpaid break in the middle of the shift from 30 minutes to 45, 60 or even 75 minutes ;
  • biometric booking on.

RMT is appalled by these attacks, and our ISS representatives are determined to fight them with all means at our disposal, up to and including industrial action. The union is urging Tube Lines and TfL to not finalise the contract with ISS while it continues with these shocking policies.

Tube Lines workers should all get behind our workmates who are cleaners.

Know your rights

A recent Court of Appeal decision means that if you are unable to take your full four weeks of statutory annual leave entitlement due to sickness, you can carry over the unused leave into the following years. If you leave the company with accrued but untaken statutory leave from the previous year, you should receive a payment in lieu.

But while Tube Lines (and London Underground and TfL) accept that this is the case, they have decided not to inform you, their employees! So RMT is telling you. If you think this affects you, or if you have any questions, please speak to your RMT rep.

The three companies all replied to RMT about this issue with an identically-worded letter. Strange, then, that they seem unable to give their workers identical rights on issues such as pensions and travel passes!