Upfront Newsletter: August 2015

Members of all unions once again showed the power of united action with another magnificent display of strength during the last strike. The all-grades overtime ban is hitting LUL hard and we have seen proof of this on their central target board. It has more red crosses than a game of Celebrity Squares with actual lost customer hours almost double the target. Lost hours caused through the Fleet overtime ban are 15 times higher than the target!

Why are we taking action?
It is worth reflecting on why we have been forced to take this action. Night Tube Rosters and the feared imposition of them is a key issue in the depots, but not the only one.
Months ago LUL included the introduction of Night Tube in our pay offer. Although we are right in saying this dispute is not all about money, with work life balance issues being key, it is clear that we deserve a decent pay rise too which reflects the increased workload that Night Tube brings.

The rostering of Night Tube goes hand in glove with our work life balance concerns. Negotiations to resolve how to do this and protect our members were ongoing in the Trains Council for the best part of 6 months with the RMT submitting a proposal along with our ASLEF colleagues. This essentially called on a freeze of weekends worked following the introduction of Night Tube and a gradual reduction of levels of weekends worked to those prior to company plan brought in around 1992. In order to achieve this we agreed to consider varying the recruitment principles for drivers allowing both existing and new drivers to take up the role on a reduced hours basis. This would allow coverage of some of the more extremes of the roster which would ease the weekend and night working patterns for full time drivers. This was discussed in a document issued by the RMT in April which can be read here.

The RMT has secured pay offers in excess of 2% for a number of companies we deal with, without all the strings LUL are trying to attach - the pay offer proposed by LUL falls woefully short of this.

We accepted that the reduction in weekend working would take time, possibly over a year or two. This would also entail us amending a number of agreements such as the PTOA, Framework Agreement and TOPRA, and would give the company increased rostering flexi-bility. In return for this we asked for a consolidated one off payment to acknowledge this fact and the incentivising of night tube turns to encou-rage our members to work them along with time back for doing them. This proposal was flatly rejected by LUL as too expensive; instead they used some components of our proposal and proceeded to issue rosters for night tube which had not been agreed and attached an unsatisfactory pay offer.

Joint union strike follows unacceptable offer
This was clearly unacceptable, and in response our members alongside our sister unions took solid strike action. Following the receipt of a second substandard offer the members delivered their verdict with a second day of action. It was agreed to coordinate escalated action with the other Unions in order to bring this issue to a head and get a decent offer for our members. All Unions agreed to this but ASLEF, who seem to be happy with an assurance that Night Tube rosters will not be imposed. They reneged on the agreement to strike and called off action without discussing it with other unions.

However, as of now, LUL are still saying publicly that Night Tube will commence as advertised (with duty schedules and timetables being issued to the Northern Line and a test run on the Jubilee line at the end of August.) We believe it was a mistake to suspend strike action on that basis. Breaking the unified approach, which is the most likely strategy to get gains for all members including drivers, could prove costly and damaging in the long run.

The action remains on for the RMT, TSSA and Unite as there is no movement in the management stance. Although your negotiators are trying to make progress under the auspices of ACAS and will do what they can to avoid further loss of wages, we have to continue to build towards further action in the face of management intransigence.

This is not the time for divisions between union members or sectarian attempts to undermine the industrial action of other unions. If this action has to go ahead we ask every driver in every depot to respect picket lines and join the action as only resolute determination will prevail and get us all the decent deal we deserve.

Upfront Newsletter August Strike 2015 by RMT London Calling