Thursday, 2 July 2015


Two weeks after ASLEF declared the result of the strike ballot it appears that management are starting to realise that they can just stick their heads in the sand and hope that everything goes away.  On Tuesday at ACAS the unions made it plain that unless the new roster sheets that included Night Tube were withdrawn there could be no negotiation and yesterday management conceded by withdrawing the sheets.  We’ll be back at ACAS today but there’s still a long way to go and considering that it has taken five months to get this far I’m not brimming with confidence that things will be resolved before Wednesday night.

To remind everyone what the situation is, LU have offered a pay rise of 0.75% this year after initially offering 0.5% with RPI next year.  Our previous deal was RPI+0.5% with 2% minimum, RPI in February was 1.1% so they’re not even offering us inflation.  Other train drivers on the privatised TOCs are getting 2% or above and that is the yardstick by which we compare ourselves.  For Night Tube they’re offering a £250 one-off bonus for TOps working at affected depots, another £250 if the deal was settled by the end of June which obviously didn’t happen and another £250 after 3 months of Night Tube if there had been no trouble, which seems unlikely.

When our union reps refused this LU threw their toys out of the pram and declared that if we didn’t agree there would be no pay rise at all but when that failed they begged the unions to go to ACAS.   At the first meeting management refused to sit in the same room as our reps and at the second they sat there for 20 minutes simply remarking that our position was “noted”.

The next seven days could be very interesting......

Saturday, 27 June 2015


Interesting, according to an article in The Guardian over the last two years the Met and local councils have been putting restrictions on bars and clubs in London to the point where some like the hugely successful Vibe Bar in Brick Lane have been forced to close.  Is this the thriving night time economy that TfL are so eager to support that they’re forcing Night Tube upon us?  Maybe Boris should have a word with his commissioner of policing and tell him to ease off a little otherwise from September we could be driving empty trains after 1am because everyone will have gone home.

Friday, 26 June 2015


LU allowed a week to go by before they finally agreed to meet with the unions over Night Tube so if they meet on Monday they’ll have just 10 days to work out an agreement before we go out on what will potentially be the most disruptive strike for decades.  Their lack of urgency is sadly not surprising, they’ve never seemed bothered in the past about their employees or their passengers, their jobs are safe and in fact some of them are looking at promotion.

Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy has quit to chair Network Rail, obviously he didn’t fancy the prospect of having to explain to the new Mayor why he made no attempt to restrain Boris wilder flights of fancy  - the Boris Bus, the cable car, the garden bridge - at a time when TfL’s budget was being cut.  Ex-LU Managing Director Mike Brown has temporality taken over Hendy’s office with the hope of making it a permanent move, someone will have to move up to fill his desk at London Rail and so everyone shuffles up a step.  Maybe that is why they couldn’t start negotiations this week, they were all too busy jockeying for position and measuring up for new office curtains.

At the moment there are various opinions rolling around the depots as to how things will eventually pan out, a popular one is that in order to make the Night Tube shifts attractive management will either pay a higher rate, give an additional day off in the week after or both.  If it attracts enough people to volunteer to work them then I’ll certainly be happy, you can have my Night Tubes any time.  I guess we’ll find out next week whether LU are actually serious about ending the dispute or whether they are happy to let the thing drag on and on.

I'm not holding my breath.......

Thursday, 18 June 2015



Wow, that was quick! ASLEF have asked members not to book on between 21:30 Wednesday 8th July until 21:29 Thursday 9th July, we're not even waiting for the result of the RMT and TSSA ballots.  No night turns on the Wednesday will mean that its likely that the last trains will run a bit earlier but on the Thursday the only people in will be RMT members who cross the picket line and there won't be many of those.  LUL have got three weeks to get their finger out.

The result of the ASLEF ballot is in, 1810 (98.7%) voted for industrial action, 24 (1.3%) voted against with an 81% turnout.  Including those that didn't vote that is 80% of ASLEF members at LUL supporting the union's decision, not even Boris can complain that it's a minority dictating to the rest.  Perhaps now management will start negotiating seriously so we can get this sorted out without us having to lose a day's pay or causing any disruption to the punters.


We're not alone, drivers up at ScotRail have rejected their pay offer of 1.1% plus it seems there are ballots going on at TransPennine Express and Tyne & Wear Metro; the train drivers are revolting (said in a Kenneth Williams type voice).

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


A rather petulant memo from management appeared last week saying that they were “surprised and disappointed” that the unions were balloting for strikes over Night Tube while negations were in progress.   According to the latest memo from ALSEF during the last negotiations management barely spoke, simply repeating that the unions’ position was “noted" to every issue that was raised which I don’t think anyone can regard as remotely “meaningful”.

It’s pretty obvious to all that LU are simply waiting to see how the ballots turn out, down here we are all pretty sure what the outcome will be and I can’t believe management imagine that the result will be anything other than overwhelmingly for a strike.   The ASLEF ballot closes on Thursday so we should know the result soon while RMT and TSSA started balloting today and will deliver the result in two weeks.

While looking at what train drivers on the mainline were getting as a pay rise I noticed there were two pay levels on the Overground, the basic is £54071 but there’s also a “Sunday exempt driver” salary of £50317.  Sadly I suspect that last one only applies to drivers who’ve transferred over from Silverlink and chose to keep their old terms, Sundays used to be voluntary at double time.  If you could walk into job with Sundays off for about the same as I’m earning now I could be tempted to switch…..

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


The envelope containing my ballot paper has been returned and in two weeks’ time we should get the result although if it turns out to be anything other a resounding vote in favour of a strike I think everybody will be shocked.  TSSA have joined the other two unions in balloting their members so we could have all three unions in dispute on the Tube for the first time since 1926; at last Boris can claim to have achieved something during his time as Mayor of London!

Despite this dispute being purely about terms and conditions there’s always someone who wants to believe it is something it’s not and a load of “Tubeworker” leaflets have appeared around the depots inciting us to “TAKE ON THE TORIES”.  These are produced by Workers Liberty, a handful of Trots who still think the proletariat are on the threshold of rising up against the running dogs of capitalism and seizing the means of production rather than sat at home watching “Britain’s got talent”.

I could well believe that management would love to depict our strike as political, there were some who accused RMT of calling a strike on Network Rail because the Tories had won the election even though the dispute had been running for months and they’d started balloting in April.  Regardless of the motivation the threat of a strike was enough to get a revised pay offer and the same worked for our ASLEF colleagues on Southern where they’ve been offered 3.2% after rejecting 2.6%.  If our fellow railway workers can get a decent pay rise through threatening to go on strike it seems highly unlikely we’re going to accept 0.75% especially when we are also being asked to work even more unsociable hours than we do already for an insultingly small amount.

In other news after over 60 years of reading the Daily Torygraph (because she’s ex-Foreign Office and it used to have the best foreign news coverage) Old Mother shugged is no longer prepared to endure it’s right wing bias and has switched to the Grauniad.  Which I suppose proves that it’s never too late to change.