Saturday, 26 September 2015

At the risk of using a railway metaphor the talks on pay and Night Tube seem to have hit the buffers.  According to both unions management have adopted the tactic of discussing everything but agreeing to nothing, they are prepared to consider changes to our terms and conditions but not to actually commit themselves.  At the same time they are not prepared to discuss the pay deal as a separate issue which means that unless we agree to sign a blank cheque on Night Tube there will be no pay rise this year.

For their part management continue to put out memos repeating the mantra that they want the pay deal to be affordable and fair while emphasising that other worker haven’t had a pay rise but failing to acknowledge that in the railway industry above inflation pay rises are the norm in both private and public sectors.  Both unions are now consulting with the reps and the branches to decide what if anything to do next but frankly I don’t think management care what we do, the passengers and workers can rot so long as their extremely well paid jobs are safe.

And how safe are they?  On Thursday Mike Brown was enthroned as Peter Hendy’s permanent replacement as Transport Commissioner having stepped into the role in a temporary capacity three months ago.  His new job comes with a basic salary of £354k plus a £178k performance bonus which I’ve no doubt he will be judged to have warranted.  To counter suggestions that perhaps this was over generous Boris insists that it you want the best you have to pay for it although it would be interesting to know who else, if anyone, was considered for the job.

Mike Brown joined LU in 1989, worked his way up the greasy pole until he became Chief Operating Officer but further progress was blocked when Ken appointed an outsider, Tim O’Toole, as Managing Director.  His ambitions thwarted Brown deserted LU to run Heathrow Airport in 2008 but when O’Toole quit “to spend more time with his family” less than a year after Boris became Mayor the path was open again.  Brown replaced the Transatlantic usurper and added the title of MD of London Rail, the body that oversees all TfL train/tram operations, shortly after his return to the fold.  Finally he has succeeded to the ultimate London transport throne, living proof that persistence has its rewards.

All hail our new Dark Overlord!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

After all the turmoil of the last couple of months last week was quite placid, the only thing that stood out was the number of times I had to go into Coded Manual because ATO couldn’t cope with the rain.  Anyone who tells you that the Central Line could run driverless with the current stock and signalling system is talking rubbish.

On the subject of rubbish I’ve started moderating comments due to the number of depressingly witless and in some case downright insulting messages that have cropped up in the last few weeks.  If you are going to comment on my blog try to offer some intelligence, some wit and insight.  I’m bored with childish inanity, “you're all lazy/greedy wankers” or similar tedious nonsense isn’t going to be accepted.

Unfair?  Yes, completely but it’s my blog, as Al Murray’s Pub Landlord says “My gaff, my rules”, if you feel that the world desperately need to be told that “ASLEF are shit” then start your own blog.  Am I worried that a few individuals might stop reading because of this?  Not really, last month I received 21773 page views, my previous highest total was 16473 in July and before that 10591 in February when RMT were embroiled in the Alex McGuigan dispute.

I’m on ATOR this week, unless something develops at ACAS I’m not expecting to have much to write about and next week I’m on Annual Leave so the Central Line will have to get along without me.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Yesterday RMT, TSSA and Unite called off this week’s strikes along with the overtime ban in what Unite’s regional officer Hugh Roberts described it as “an act of goodwill”.  However TSSA’s Manuel Cortes warned “we are not out of the woods yet” while RMT went so far as to set new possible strike dates in two weeks’ time although unless management do something amazingly brainless I’d imagine that those dates will pass without any upheaval.

None of which is surprising, calling two strikes less than three weeks after the last one without ASLEF’s support was simply a step too far and while certain RMT senior officials may be cursing that they’ve lost the chance to overthrow the capitalist system I’d imagine that most of their members are breathing a sigh of relief.  Negotiations will go on, as yet there is no date for introducing Night Tube and I think management must now be aware that should they announce one without having reached an agreement then the strikes will be back on.

Normal service is resumed, the revolution will not be televised.

Friday, 21 August 2015

It’s certainly been an interesting week, I’ve heard some of my colleagues saying that no one wants to work Night Tube but I’ve had others saying that if their depot doesn’t get Night Tube they’ll put in a transfer to one that does.  I’ve heard fellow ASLEF members saying that we should all go on strike next week along with RMT members saying that the strike should be called off.  To say that opinion is mixed would certainly be an understatement.

Meanwhile at ACAS ASLEF and RMT reps have put forward a joint position to management on the Train side with more talks today but RMT say while there has been progress they will not call off the strike until an acceptable offer has been made to Engineering, Fleet, Service Control and Stations.  For myself I think the strike is unnecessary, management are retreating while the overtime ban in the depots is leading to trains being cancelled or developing faults while in service and having to be withdrawn.

Yesterday I was covering for HAI who have loads of people out sick, my first half started in the depot where the only train available was the one being used for ATOR.  On the second half they had to renumber a train that was about to go out of service at RUG to make up the second to last EPP train.  I've even heard an IOp complaining that one day both their trains were cancelled so they had to check around to see who they could take off in order to get some training done.

Night Tube has been shelved and if it happens it probably won’t be until next year, February or March have both been rumoured.  We’ve shown management what we can do if they push this issue, the strikes did their job, we don’t need to emphasise the point.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

RMT issued another leaflet yesterday outlining their demands, the three main points being that “LU must stop implementing whilst talks continue” which has already been done, “a 32 hour 4 day week” which I think should have had “LOL” at the end and that “LU must address all outstanding issues of dispute between us.”  After their list of demands for Night Tube they added two demands on “Fit for Future – Stations” so more than a year after they failed to get anywhere with strikes on the issue, six months after the closure of ticket offices began and with the reorganisation of station staff well underway RMT now want to piggy back this lost cause onto the current dispute.  10 out of 10 for tenacity….

Friday, 14 August 2015

Yesterday on TSSA's website their Leyton Orient supporting Gen Sec Manny Cortes said "Commons sense seems to have broken out at last. We are hopeful in this new climate that it should be possible to reach a comprehensive and fair agreement. This will allow for the implementation of a safe and secure Night Tube which will benefit all Londoners."

So it appears that ASLEF aren't alone in the opinion that it has finally dawned on management that this isn't all about the money and that they need to address their employees' concerns rather than keep throwing money at the problem if they ever want Night Tube to happen.  That's "if", there some who think that management don't want Night Tube but don't have the guts to say "No" to Boris and are using the unions to do their dirty work.  Its quite a popular theory along with "Boris is pulling their strings" and "they couldn't negotiate their way out of a paper bag". 

Rest Day; off to deepest, darkest Dagenham to see Old Mother shrugged.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Let’s remember a couple of things; firstly as far as I’m concerned the dispute is primarily over the way Night Tube is being imposed without any consultation or negotiation.  It is about our work/life balance, the increase in weekend working, the amount of rest we get after working those night shifts and seeing that those who work them were properly rewarded for the increase in antisocial hours.  Management have agreed that Night Tube will not be introduced without an agreement with ASLEF so at the moment we have no reason to strike.

Secondly ASLEF represents train drivers, it doesn’t represent station, control room or technical grades so it isn’t negotiating for them, that is the job of RMT, TSSA or Unite.  I don’t know if management’s offer has been extended to them or to other grades but if it hasn’t then it’s not up to ASLEF to get the offer extended to them.   All the reps of the four unions are there to represent their members not those of other unions, if interests coincide then that’s fine but if train drivers are not directly affected then it’s not ASLEF’s problem.

Right, that aside I think the idea of two 24 hour strikes less than three weeks after the last one is absolutely bonkers.  In the past it has been the amount of pay lost that has led to staff ignoring strike calls as we have bills to pay just like everyone else.  We get paid every four weeks, our next pay day is Wednesday 2nd September so I think these strikes come too late to be deducted from that but if not it means that staff could lose three days wages off their next pay slip.

If it does roll over onto the next pay day, 30th September, then that will already be missing two days’ pay so any additional strikes in September could be a lot less solid as staff, especially those on lower salaries like CSAs, struggle to make ends meet.  In the past we've seen RMT strikes fizzle out from "strike fatigue" so this could be two strikes too many.  If management do renege on their promise to not introduce Night Tube without agreement and ASLEF call a strike in September they could find themselves on their own.

So is this a cunning management ploy to split the unions and reduce the effectiveness of strikes or is this someone thinking they can ratchet up the strike for some reason or other, I have no idea.  Obviously at a time when management appear to be offering an olive branch to ASLEF we’re not going to throw it back in their faces, if the other unions go out on strike they’ll be doing so without us so maybe the leadership should reconsider their timing and their tactics.